Black and White

I’m pretty good at seeing the gray in the world. I try really hard to see all the sides to an argument, even when it seems 100% bad. I work to understand why something is the way it is, or what events and circumstances led to something happening. I truly do not believe that things are in black and white. Even so, I seem to always have trouble seeing people as being both good and bad. This is something that I’ve been working on for a while, and even though I don’t think I’ve fully figured it out yet, I do think I’ve made some progress. There are a few stories that come to mind as times that have forced me to work on this. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail with any of them, so I’m not even sure they qualify as stories, but here they are anyway.

Towards the end of my senior year, something happened with a few friends of mine. I was especially close with two of the people involved, and because of that I heard a lot of what was going on. I heard various sides of the story, something that made me question who the “bad” guy was. As the story continued to unfold and the school year came to an end, one of my closest friends was being blamed for a lot of what had happened. Since I had heard so much of the story and a few people had been talking to me about it, I could see why that was the case. They hadn’t made great decisions, and those decisions had affected other people. But, they’d also apologized, and they’d started to make better decisions as the school year ended. Because of this, I had a hard time believing they could be bad at all. I mean, they’d apologized. They’d started doing good things. How could a bad person do something good? I began to shut off any thoughts that they could be bad and began to only believe that they were good. Completely good.

Back in February, when my rehearsals for the Festival of Shorts were in full swing, I wound up in an unideal situation. As the rehearsals ended and performances began, the situation only grew a bit worse. I started to struggle with thinking that maybe this person who I thought was good could do a bad thing, or maybe they were actually a bad person who just did good things sometimes. One day everything would be great, and I would see them as such a good person. And then, later on, something would happen and I would end up crying thinking that they weren’t as good as I thought. But how could that be? How could a good person turn into a bad person and then back into a good person so quickly? How could a good person do a bad thing?

A Wrinkle in Time was a beautiful experience that I will be forever thankful for. It had, however, some awful moments that proved to be challenging for many members of the cast. I wouldn’t say I was directly affected by one of the bigger challenges, but I certainly saw how it affected others who were. As time went on, I kept reminding people that I believed they were good, and that I love them unconditionally. Those two things were true, and still are. My problem, I soon realized, was that instead of loving them and still seeing the issue that needed to be worked out, I didn’t let myself believe that there was a problem, because how could a good person do a bad thing?

I have a hard time seeing good in people who I have already determined to be “bad,” but I have a harder time seeing bad in people who I believe are totally good. Every time I encounter a situation where someone who I have believed to be good does something that I would consider to be bad, I wrestle with it for a long time. I believe that I am a perfectionist because I struggle to believe I can still be a good person if I make a mistake. Consciously, I know that no one is perfect. I know that good people can do bad things, and I know that bad people can do good things. Because, the thing is, people are not black and white. People are gray. Last year, when I wrote about the things I learned when I was eighteen, I wrote that it is important to imagine people complexly. I also wrote that it was something I was still working on, and that’s still true. Whether I should or not, I care deeply about everyone in those stories. I believe in loving people unconditionally, but I also know that I can’t do that if I don’t allow them to make mistakes and be human.