1. You learn to stand up for yourself.
Quite frankly, you learn to not put up with anyone else’s sh*t. You develop a thicker skin and your backbone straightens. Your voice is no longer lost in a conversation. When you want people to listen, they listen. That voice in your head, the one that pops in like Jiminy Cricket advising you to not do that scary thing you’re about to do, becomes more affirmative. You discover another side of you that you wouldn’t have thought possible until the world crashed down on you and then forced you to get up. Because, sadly, you needed a few jerks and the voice of experience to put things into perspective.
2. You learn to look out for those important to you.
Your friends. Your family. Your significant other. You learn to take to heart the feelings of those closest to you. When something bad happens to them, it’s like something bad is happening to you, too. These are the people who mean the most to you, who have been there through the best times in your life as well as the worst. They’ve celebrated, laughed and cried with you, and their achievements are your achievements, too. So it only makes sense that someone who does them wrong has done wrong to you, too.
3. You learn that sometimes, people are just a**holes. And there is nothing you can do to fix it.
These are the most infuriating of the bunch. This category of a**hole, the people who enjoy being jerks, are just that. They enjoy it. They stir the kettle of drama until it boils over and burns everyone in the near vicinity. They start sh*t. They spread rumors. These are, again frankly, horrible people (or just very bored) who are looking to cause trouble and if you are in the way, good luck. Also, this might be a good time to check in with this quote by William Gibson: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure in fact you are not surrounded by a**holes.”
4. You learn that you can’t help someone unless they want to be helped.
Sometimes, no matter how much you want to help someone or how much you think your advice (or the advice of professionals) will help, they just don’t want it and will lash out at you. Like in Stephen Chbosky’s book The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in which we accept the love we think we deserve, we accept the help we think we need. You can try to move a mountain, but that mountain ain’t budging if it doesn’t want to be moved.
5. You learn to forgive and forget. Or, to forgive and remember forever.
There are things people do that can be neither forgiven nor forgotten. But at times, it’s better to forgive so you can be at peace with yourself and move on instead of holding onto this giant piece of regret, or anger, or hatred, or jealousy, or some other emotion that eats at you raw until you bleed everything you have out. Becoming at peace is the most important part. But sometimes, there’s some memory, some action so pronounced, that had so much meaning, it’s wedged in your heart forever and nothing you can do and no amount of time will ever dull that feeling or take away the pain. These people help you learn which pain you can put up with and which pain you can part with. Forever.