Are you a fan of sci-fi and fantasy movies? Do you enjoy playing video games? Is there a particular Marvel Comics character that you love? If you answered yes to all of the above, then we have a lot in common. I bet you, too, somewhere in the deepest recesses of your heart have this secret wish to be one of those superhuman characters.
My wish is no secret at all and although I find it quite embarrassing sometimes, I must admit I wish I had Bella Swan’s powers. No, not her ability to seduce vampires (although I also sometimes wish I was a little bit more attractive, if not seductive) but her ability to shield herself and the people she loves from those vampires. The likes of Laurent and Aro don’t only exist in Meyer’s book. In fact I believe they never would have been created in the writer’s imagination if they never existed in the real world. There are many Laurents and Aros in our world today and they come in equally enigmatic looks and awfully dangerous characteristics so you better know how to spot them and protect yourself from them or else they will tear you down and suck life out of you.
You don’t believe me? Take a look around. Remember that woman next door with whom you occasionally chat with on your way to work or to the supermarket on weekends? Ever notice how she always complains about the traffic, how undisciplined motorists are and how incompetent traffic enforcers are nowadays? How about that one Saturday afternoon when she was unloading her groceries from her truck and she saw you lounging on your front yard, enjoying a tall glass of cold drink and she deliberately walked across her lawn to yours to tell you how incredibly terrible the service was at this restaurant where she ate lunch.
This neighbor utters nothing but objection, complaints and grievances like there is nothing good in her life and you can tell that although she seems to be enjoying it when she reports how grossly evil or incompetent the people around her are she is deeply affected and unhappy. You can tell in the way her chest rises and falls each time she heaves deep sighs after each sentence, accompanied by a frustrated shaking of her head and rolling of her eyes. She must be very upset. I can tell, because I used to be a member of her pact.
Yes, I used to enjoy chatting with them and I’m telling you this not because I’m afraid I might appear hypocritical but because I want to share from first-hand experience how it feels to be one of them — it sucks. There are instances when we, consciously or unconsciously, berate others in order to magnify their faults and minimize ours, often ending with statements like, “At least I don’t…” or “At least I’m not…” However, more than making our faults small compared to theirs, the reason why we air out grievances and complaints is because deep inside we suffer from emotional pain and an overwhelming sense of helplessness and this crippling thought that there is nothing we can do about it. I can’t tell you how terribly stressful it feels to spend even as little as two or three minutes telling someone how bad my day went. A thoughtful colleague might smile back politely and say, “Yeah, mine too,” but afterwards the negative words I utter tend to self-fulfill and manifest themselves in my life! Oftentimes we don’t make a connection between that moment we said, “There are just not enough honest people around anymore,” and that moment we discovered we’ve been robbed. Oftentimes we think it helps when we have friends we can turn to for comfort whenever we have problems and yes, we can vent out to them our frustrations in life. They, being good friends, lend their ears patiently that we walk away thinking we have poured out our heartaches but did the heartaches really leave? I often went home still feeling sorry for myself. The reasons for my sorrows did not disappear after I have told them to my friends, in fact I only magnified the pain by talking about it and describing it as vividly as I could to convince my friends I had reasons for feeling this way.
I was so lost in my miseries I failed to consider how my telling affected my friends as well. Not all friends are emotionally healthy and intellectually mature. Some might have understood but for some I might have just created an unpaid advertisement of how unscrupulous our leaders are and just how unfair life truly is.
Fortunately for me the universe has been kind and gave me time to find out how outrageously futile and counterproductive complaining can be. It only drained me of creative energy and reinforced my idea that I’m a victim. So I gave up. I gave up complaining and admitted I needed help. While I knew that friends and family only have my best interest in mind, I also realized that not all of them are capable of helping me out of my situation; I would only pass on to them my infectious feelings of despair. With this in mind I proceeded carefully in search of the right people who can do something about the problem and gradually my energy was shifted from whining and grumbling to finding the best solutions.
Today, when friends and colleagues tell me about a problem I know I can’t help them with, I simply allow them to talk without saying anything that would reinforce their feelings of helplessness and when I get an opportunity I either hook their optimistic side or I leave.
I don’t want to feed on other people’s positive energy anymore, but being human I remain vulnerable to slip-ups, hence my wish of becoming Bella Swan. Okay, she became a vampire eventually. Perhaps I can become Violet Parr of The Incredibles, or have a magical shield like Captain America’s; anything to protect myself from the dark energy that people throw away arbitrarily. But I also wish I can shield my loved ones, too, or the entire neighborhood! Perhaps it’s really okay if I wanted to be Bella, after all.