It’s insidious, dangerous, and damning.
Most of the time I don’t realize it and when I do, the cycle tends to repeat itself because I find myself blaming its presence on my circumstances, my events, my past…
Playing the victim is EXTREMELY easy for me. I do it well.
Doesn’t mean I WEAR it well. It’s NOT a pretty look on anyone. It’s ugly, it’s petty, and frankly, most of us, if not ALL of us have worn it at least once in our lives. Human nature. From the Garden in Genesis when God asked man where he was and man (woman and serpent as well) replied with the victim card.
Because that’s really all it is in the end, right? A place to hide, a shroud to mask us, a blanket to cover up the truth that would stare us in the face otherwise.
We’re NOT the victims. We’re the perpetrators of the crime.
I’ll give you a GREAT example in the interest of transparency.
My college years were spent in financial disarray. I had a part time job that paid JUST about the minimum wage, and that job changed rapidly for various reasons. I attended school full time, taking out loans because my grades slipped to the point that grants were no longer options. I depended largely on the kindness of friends to feed me anything close to three square meals and at one point, I subsisted on rice and cheese. My rent, utilities, and other sundry bills were often late and I rarely had money for gas, which meant the bus lines and walking were my sources of transportation. I lost a ton of weight, about the only bright side to the whole screwy situation.
I spent evenings working my crappy jobs, late nights poring over textbooks (or writing BS papers on a procrastinator’s schedule), mornings attending classes with my eyes half shut, and afternoons in clinicals. At least, that was what I told myself I was doing.
It’s funny looking back on the situation I used to lament loudly to anyone who would hear, my perspective has changed and brought with it a lot of regret and shame.
Because in spite of my cries to the contrary, I did not give my absolute best during that period of my life. If I had, I guarantee you, I would have been working two steady jobs, studying my ass off, and graduating with High Honors and a whole lot less debt.
As it was, I still managed a social life, high-priced frou-frou coffees from Starbucks, and frequent restaurant visits. All while “mourning” my financial distress, my family dysfunction, and my dropping grades as if had absolutely NO idea why I was failing so spectacularly.
All while my bills went unpaid, my friends pitied my poor starving college self, and my grades dropped like a rock.
I graduated with the BARE minimum passing score and that, only due to the mercy of my adviser, who felt my pitiable situation to be the reason for my lack of excellence in my work. I’m not certain I should be thanking her for that.
It’s a pity I actually managed to pass my boards and with flying colors. In reality, all that tells me is that I can take a multiple choice test.
The best part of this whole story is that I look on it now without wearing my victim’s shroud and I can see myself for exactly what I was then, and in this present time.
I was and am the decider of my own destiny. I decided back then that I would not thrive and so I didn’t. I decided that I would fail and so I did.
Of course, the whole time I was deciding this, I was vehemently denying that decision and whining about why my life seemed so painfully, awfully bent on mediocrity.
It’s a wonder ANYONE liked me at that time of my life. Looking back, I can’t say I really like who I was when it’s all said and done. Who I oftentimes still try to be.
I ended my college career with the distinct feeling that I’d wasted five whole years of my life (actually six given the gap year I took to TRY to get my debt under control). I still wonder what might have happened had I chosen wisely and refused to be the victim in my trumped up scenario.
I still struggle with making the wise choice even today. It is SO difficult to acknowledge my position in my own story. I’m either the villain or the hero, but I have NEVER been, nor will I EVER be, the victim. I have to stop telling myself that role is even available for me to fill. Because that particular role has NEVER been part of the story. Not for me or anyone else.
You are either the villain or the hero. You don’t get to play the victim in spite of your best efforts to try.
EVERY decision you make WILL make you the villain or the hero in your story.
So which is it?