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“At least you learned, right?”

Heartbreak, Social StudiesJessie MaComment

After any challenging experience, people love to look back with rose-tinted glasses.  They think about what they went through, as a whole, and try to “learn” or “grow” or otherwise make that experience count for something. 

My mantra through tough times was one of my favorite Haruki Murakami quotes:“I can bear any pain, as long as it has meaning.”

So after the pain had passed, it became my mission to make that pain have meaning. I dissected and analyzed everything that happened, and the people involved, in order to gain a better understanding of love, life, relationships, of myself. The only way I could be at peace with having gone through the trauma was to tell myself that I grew from it. 

But I want to reject this idea. 

In fact, I want to examine pain in a more realistic approach:

Some pain, no matter what you “learn” from it, is ultimately fucking useless.

I may have learned a lot of things from my struggles, but a lot of those lessons- I would have preferred to be without. Heartbreak, death, tragedy… I’ve become so familiar with “lessons” that I never really wanted to learn. I would, without question, choose tiny bit of ignorance over wisdom on things I want nothing to do with. 

It’s like I was involuntarily enrolled in a class that I had to work tirelessly to pass. And in the end, the value of the information I took away seems pitiful in comparison to the arduous process of gaining that inconsequential knowledge. 

I think it’s a desperate defense mechanism to try and make it seem worth it. It’s our shield against feeling like we wasted our time or energy. “At least.. at least I… learned? something?”

To say that all pain has to have meaning is idealistic. It gives us this hope, an illusion of a fair world, a just world, a world where there is an equilibrium of “receive bad, deserve good.” 

But that’s not a real world. It’s definitely not the world we live in.

In this world, people are cruel and careless, diseases and natural disasters have no mercy, political systems are rampant with corruption, and family, friends, and relationships will break your heart no matter their intent. 

If you learn and grow from this pain, cheers to that. I’m all for a better you. I’m all for making it count. 

But it’s okay to feel like the only lesson you learned would be: don’t waste any more time looking for a lesson between the cracks in your heart.  It’s okay to be angry at the unfairness of an unfair world. It’s okay to acknowledge that in the end, not everything will even out. 

Just make sure you move on to things that you’re confident will be worth it.