opinion: pity is a double-edged sword.

Pity is a good word.

It’s a very understated word, reserved often for fantasy books or romance movies or even sad animal stories that – beyond a little personal infliction, we don’t truly have to be invested in. It’s more so a conjured feeling, and not something we associate with daily.

But if we do – we hide it like shame.

No one likes to say they’re pitiful. They may feel that something else is pitiful, and are free to point that out from behind a vague understanding of a kind of visage. But anyone’s careful to not direct the sad, even degrading stare towards themselves.

Because pity doesn’t just mean that you’re missing something – it means you’re lacking something that you can’t help. It’s something in you or your life that you can’t rectify yourself, and need others to do for you (with you, if you’re lucky). But often, there is an obligation inflicted upon others that goes beyond mere compassion. And here is where the sting of pity is, and what makes it so undesirable for anyone – that it’s too obvious, the effect pity holds onto others. Because often, there is such a lack of understanding, not one person can simply stretch out a hand without judgment. Pity is almost latched onto judgment, like a package. And so the blow delivered is double, and not all relationships can stand the weight of it.

That sensation is strong – enough to make you feel branded with it, like the red scarlet letter.

And then there’s the even worse term, “pity party.”

At times, people really do hold a pity party that, with just a little bit of a boost, they can get up from in order to confidently stand on their feet. But oftentimes, people don’t know this, aren’t capable of thinking of this, or needs to hear this from an outsider… which may not make sense at all unless you inherently feel the shame streaming through every inner vein. It’s a real fog that sometimes truly clouds your sight. Self-pity makes a strong entrance in which all at once you realize all that you don’t can’t have… and sometimes, you’ve to fully experience the overwhelming feelings in order to be able to stick your head out, face it head-on, and move on. But everyone has different abilities in coping, and not everyone can make it alone. I wish everyone can ask for help without feeling worried about burdening others, jumping across boundaries, or simply coming off as craving attention with a tumblr-aesthetic version of sadness.

Not to say that this perspective only brings about the most cynical of views from outside perceivers. A simple act of grace, boosted from faith, often goes unnoticed after all. And we are all learning, past our own built walls, boundaries, and capabilities in the face of tumultuous life.

But I just wish, in any given circumstance, people can openly say “I’m pitiful” to another loved one because “I don’t have this or that – but I want it” (‘it’ most often meaning companionship, from my personal experience). “So, can you help me?”

And I wish it was an act of common grace, courtesy, and kindness to adhere (if you, in your own circumstances, are utterly able, of course). That kindness is common rather than exceptional – the latter, in which, only perpetuates its seeming rarity.

The more people are kind, the less pity abounds. What would instead take place is vulnerability, and acceptance – two very raw, human traits.

Everyone’s isolated to some degree, but why can’t anyone speak up about it?

What’s holding you and me back?


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