My entire life, I have been surrounded by 'good' people. In my eyes, they were the best of people. They were trustworthy, caring, and with the largest hearts. They opened their homes, they smiled, they asked how you were, and so on and so forth. They were 'good'.
They were 'good', and even when I didn't feel good because of the way I was treated by some of them, I was reminded that they are 'good' and 'good' people do not harm. 'Good' people are 'good'. At some point I bought into the myth of good people, and replaced the people part with perfection. Because if someone is kind, then they must be supportive. If someone is generous, then they must be compassionate. If someone cares, then they are loving. There are millions of combinations, but we assume 'good' people have them all.
I'm not going into what makes a 'good' person good, but this applies for anyone that any of us believes is 'good', regardless of the criteria each of us is using.
No one is perfect, and putting anyone on any kind of pedestal where they are an exception to this rule is harmful. Unfortunately, with all the systems of oppression around us, nothing is a given. Love, belonging, compassion, support and everything else means entirely different things within these systems, and we are not taught how to be in healthy relationships. Even 'good' people, might not know how to be supportive, and loving. All of these things are actions, and all of them require practice.
I'm not here to say that if you don't know how to support then you can't be 'good'. Again, I'm not here to define 'good', but I'm saying that we all have room to grow, and every single one of us has the potential to harm, even with the best of intentions.
In my life, even the 'best' of people, were not necessarily supportive. They didn't always know how to listen, and they didn't always know how to be accepting. Support is a practice, and unless you're intentional about learning about it, you're not going to fully understand it. Love, caring, support, belonging, vulnerability, trust, and everything else requires us to be intentional about them. We need to begin prioritizing them, learning about them, practicing them, and being open for constructive criticism so that we can keep growing.
I'll end this with a few notes about getting there, getting to a place of belonging. For me, I've had to force my way. The individuals in my life for a long time were not ready for the things that were haunting me, and to an extent some still are not, but no one is ever really ready to change unless they are intentional, and they weren't. So I started speaking. I started building places where I could belong. I started building support systems that would accept me for certain areas of my life, so I always had some sort of support. But whether the people in my life wanted to or not, eventually they had to listen, it's very hard not to when you share everything about your life on stages around the world. And slowly, and I honestly mean slowly, they've accepted it. Today, I can go to those same individuals and talk about how bad my day was and I won't be told that I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Today, they accept me, and even though they've always been 'good', these days they're also learning to be good supporters.
All of these things are possible, the key, in my opinion, is intentionality.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.