These 6 Harsh Life Truths Can Help You Avoid Self-Destruction

Are you tired of being pressured into being someone you’re not? Us, too.

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Did you ever notice how much society loves to control people?

As someone who presents as female, I believe that it particularly loves to control women. I ought to know because I make people uncomfortable by existing every day.

Growing up, my best friend (someone I saw as a sister) was in a cult. At school, I was also told what to wear, every day. I was slut-shamed and called a weirdo.

Well, you get the point.


The older I get, the more I realize that many of the people who were telling me how to live and what to do were, themselves, controlled.

Unlike me, they followed the path that people told them to — and often paid for it in spades.

A lot of the people who criticized me for being different now openly admit they’re wrong — primarily because their own toxic beliefs boxed in others in a bad way. I started to look at them and recognized that there were a few main beliefs a lot of them had in common.


Want to avoid ruining your life at the hands of others? Take these life lessons to heart.

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Here are 6 harsh life truths that can help you avoid self-destruction: 

1. Needless suffering is not a virtue

Let’s start with the most insidious trait of our society: the glorification of needless suffering.

Our society has a legitimate sickness when it comes to this, and it’s appalling.

We see it when we hear about people working 80 hours a day for a low, barely-livable wage. We see it when "natural birth" groups encourage women to deny painkillers during labor. We see it every time people expect others to just give up liberties or luxuries just because they can.


None of these examples I gave come with any real benefit to the person suffering. 

Science made it possible for us to go through procedures (including birth) without pain. It also made it possible for us to live our own lives as we see fit. Rejecting it without any real reason is not a virtue — it’s just stupid.

On a similar note, if it’s for religious reasons, you may want to remind yourself that a loving god does not encourage his followers to suffer for him. That’s what an abuser does.

We as a society need to stop feeling guilty for wanting a soft life. Anyone who tries to guilt you into needless suffering is not your friend and isn’t someone you want to be near.


2. Other people’s inconvenience is not your emergency

Did you ever notice how angry some people get if you tell them you don’t want kids? Or that you want to mess around with tons of partners and not get pregnant? Or that women may want sterilization?

It gets ugly at times.

The truth is that these types of reactions are due to people seeing an inconvenient truth: women don’t always have a maternal gene and actually enjoy sex on their own terms.

It’s inconvenient because it forces people to rethink their own choices — and they may lash out in anger over the regret they feel. Or maybe, it’s a matter of a fear of missing out.

Whatever the cause of the rage is, it’s clearly inconvenient for people like that to see people live lives unlike their own. However, that’s not your emergency to fix. Let them be pissed.


As long as you are not hurting others, they have no room to talk.

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3. People who seek to control you do not love you

A lot of people seem to conflate ownership and love. 

If you love someone, you want to see them happy on their terms. As in, real love means setting them free to do what they want. Real love accepts you as you are, not on set conditions.

I’ve had a lot of people sit me down and say things like, "Ditch your friends. I love you and just want to protect you from them," or "Cover up more. You will give people the wrong impression."

Those people, oddly enough, only seemed to "love" me when it meant me doing things to conform to their desires. They often used phrases like "protecting me" or "worried about what others think of me" to push their own agenda.


Eventually, I started to notice that people who use these techniques never actually liked me. They liked the idea of controlling me, using me, hurting me, or even consuming me.

Their kindness, acceptance, and inclusion were always conditional on me acting like them, looking like them, and doing what they told me to do.

When I started to live how I liked, all that kindness and love always vanished. In reality, they never liked me for me. They never would, either. So, it made no sense for me to keep pursuing them.

4. Life is not a one-size-fits-all shtick

Let me tell you about my friend Donnie*. Donnie is a guy who enjoys his facial piercings, has friends who do drugs in the tunnels of NYC, and occasionally does tattoos made out of melted pen caps when he’s in his apartment.


When most people see Donnie, they assume that there is something wrong with him. They make assumptions because he’s not like most other people and because he hangs out with a rough crowd. I can’t even imagine how many people have told him to stop living the way he does.

In reality, Donnie is actually one of the coolest dudes I know. He’s always happy, always has a joke to tell, and also fosters lizards in his spare time. Talking to him makes me smile because he’s way more down-to-earth than most others I know.

His lifestyle works for him. It makes him happy, it keeps him grounded, and believe it or not, it also keeps him healthy. What works for him wouldn’t work for me, and that’s okay.

Too often, we assume that life has a certain script we should follow in order to be healthy, happy, and safe. Most of us are told things like:

  1. "To be happy, you need to graduate college, have kids, and buy a house." Uh, yeah, that would actually make many people miserable — myself and Donnie included. 
  2. "You have to avoid the wrong crowd." I mean, what even is the "wrong crowd?" I kept being told to drop my friends from the rave scene and to stop talking to felons, but their support and love kept me alive. If they lift you up and make you feel happy, they aren’t wrong for you.
  3. "Religion [x] will save you and keep you happy." Yes, this is how cults start.
  4. "Don’t use drugs." Yes, drugs can be terrible. As an alcoholic, I know how bad addictions get. But, they aren’t always a bad thing. Plenty of people use cannabis medicinally, but almost any drug can act as medicine in certain hands. 

Every person is different. Every person’s needs are different. Anyone who assumes that they have all the answers to your life is either an idiot, a manipulator, or too cocky for their own good.

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5. Only you can figure out what you want out of life

Part of becoming an adult is becoming your own person and discovering who you are.

Who you are is a mix of your personality, your style, your actions, your likes, your dislikes, and your goals.


No one can tell you what you like or dislike. No one can (reasonably) tell you what you want. That’s for you to discover, and it’s part of life’s journey to figure out what you truly want.

Sometimes, you may think you want something when you really don’t — and it’s okay to learn that and change your desires, too.

What’s not okay is to have others tell you what you want and blindly accept what they say.


6. The vast majority of people are too scared to go on their own path, but that doesn’t have to be you

College was this one hill that everyone seemed to want me to die on. When I told people I wanted to drop out, everyone told me I was wrong. I kept hearing, "Nobody will hire you without a degree. You’ll be a waste of talent."

I dropped out and worked my own path. Was it easy? No, primarily because no one believed in me. I regularly faced the threat of homelessness and had to sleep in my car at times. Fast forward to age 35, and I’m doing well for myself.

This brings me to a major point: a lot of people I knew wanted to drop out too.

Most people try to keep others in line because they, themselves, are afraid of choosing the path less traveled. Or, in some cases, they try to keep you in line because your success makes them feel bad about themselves.


Being your own person absolutely can be scary, and yes, you will have losses along the way. You may lose friends, ties to groups, or money. But you know what’s scarier than those losses?

The thing that should terrify you the most is the threat of waking up one day, at 70 years old, wondering why you lived a life for everyone but yourself.

Imagine waking up one day, realizing that you never really got to do anything you wanted — realizing that you threw your life away for others who never cared about the real you.

To me, that’s the most horrifying thing I can think of.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.