Don’t worry too much about whether people are likable, popular, or perfect—this applies even if they come across as nice. Sometimes, beneath the surface, they hide their worst aspects. They might possess cleverness, usefulness, and strength, but their actions can also bring harm—yes, even when they’re wealthy. This might be the case more often than not.

Think about how many times you’ve heard phrases like, “They seemed to have a perfect life,” or “She was so pretty.” There’s one that sticks in my mind, “This isn’t supposed to happen here!” I remember a nurse I knew who moved to a wealthy neighborhood in Connecticut once said that to me about a drug overdose. My response was, “Where is it supposed to happen?” Such things are often said as if misfortune or evil should only affect those who are considered ugly, poor, or isolated. But really, that’s just a way of thinking that resembles that of children, and those who aim to deceive us count on that.

I’ve come to realize, through my own experiences, that we need to maintain a sense of awareness in this world. However, the challenge lies in not becoming paranoid or closed-off. As far as life goes, I believe it’s best to embrace it openly.

There was a time, and I regret this deeply, when I approached life with a Pollyanna-like view, believing that everyone deserved a chance and that people were mostly good. While there’s truth to that on some level, it’s equally important to trust your intuition and pay attention to warning signs. Dealing with red flags rationally is a necessity.

It’s often those who pretend to be virtuous that end up causing the most disappointment. So, it’s essential to stay grounded in reality. Remember, folks, authenticity matters. This world is complex, but navigating it with eyes open and a discerning heart can lead to a more genuine understanding of others and oneself.