My mom was fond of saying “life isn’t fair” every time I bitched about doing something for her that she should have been doing herself. I’d grumble because I felt sorry for myself because I had to do things like help my mom get dressed each morning, or bathe her before school three times a week, or make her Manhattans each evening if my dad hadn’t returned from the bar before she got up from her afternoon nap.
“Life isn’t fair, Jenny”
My mom knew all about life being unfair. When she was 29 she had the flu, a pretty nasty one, they think it was Legionnaires’ disease. Regardless, we’d just moved to Denver, and she was a heavy smoker. She collapsed one day and needed an emergency tracheotomy. Just like you see on TV except not with a ballpoint pen. She was actually in the hospital when it happened, which was fortuitous. While they were doing the tracheotomy she went into cardiac arrest and flatlined.
And just like on TV they broke out the CPR, AED and got her heart started again. Unlike TV she had flatlined for a long time, and suffered a fair amount of anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain). She was comatose for 6 weeks and no one knew how she was going to come out of it.
When she did wake up she didn’t know who I was, who my brother was or why she was in the hospital. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, couldn’t do anything.
So, my mom knew that life could kick you in the gut when it wasn’t deserved or warranted.
“Life isn’t fair, Jenny,” She’d say.
Basically she was telling me to suck it up. Which I did, but I was never pleasant about it.
12 year olds can be unpleasant like that, especially when they are told a perfect life will not be handed to them.
I fought the idea of life being unfair. I railed against it. I wasted an awful lot of time being angry about it. And while I knew life had been much more unfair to my mom than me, I still spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself.
I’m not proud of that fact. I wish I had figured it out sooner – that life is unfair and you bitch the fuck up and move on. Life is unfair to everyone, even those for whom life seems to shower with health, wealth, love and good looks. It just might not have kicked them in the gut yet. It will, it always does.
Learning early on that life is not fair is how we grow. It is how we develop a resilience. Something that seems much needed if you spend any time watching Tik Tok videos where young adults are bitching about being misgendered, are oppressed because Starbucks was out of the caramel lattes, or their college hosted a speaker with whom they did not agree.
I know the influencers on these platforms probably don’t believe what they are selling (and they are selling something, even if you can’t see it). I know that they have to generate engagement to get paid. Because of that, they must be more outrageous than the next up and coming influencer. This is how we got the Tide Pod challenge. This is why we have blue hair kids throwing temper tantrums in their cars while they video themselves and then post it to social media. Any attention is good, even if you have to make a fool of yourself.
@this_truth Meltdown Over Being Misgendered #meltdown #correcting #hard ♬ original sound – @HighlighterSim – @T+T
These kids have no idea how good they have it so they have to make up oppression so they have something to rally against.
Back in my day we rallied against The Man, these days kids embrace The Man. In my day we – the young whipper snappers – worked together to make the world a better place. We did that by volunteering, or joining the Peace Corps, hell we even Held Hands Across America. Our celebrities did things like raise money – lots and lots of money, and awareness – for starving people in Ethiopia, for the American farmer, and AIDS/HIV. All without the internet!
It was us – all of us – against them. Them being the leaders and elected officials who ran our countries and who were screwing things up. Now it’s our voters against their voters.
If a celebrity wrote a song berating those leaders, they were not berating the people who voted for them because they knew people made mistakes, and politicians lie. In my day, if you called someone a Nazi, they were actually a Nazi.
Life isn’t fair, it never was and it never will be. People are human, they do bad things sometimes, and not always on purpose. I’m not sure how the idea of equity gained such support and endorsement so quickly, but it’s a lie. A big lie, and the only way you can insulate yourself from the lie is to know that life is not fair and to be able to pick yourself up after you get kicked in the gut.
You will get kicked in the gut. You will have heartache. You will fall down. You will fail. And, it won’t be fair.
But you’ll get back up, you’ll have learned something, the value of which you might not recognize for decades, and you will be a little stronger the next time life throws a curve at you.