Category Archives: Learning

On Overcoming Rivals

On Overcoming Rivals

I never thought of myself as a competitive person because I saw how much more competitive many others were than me.  I never cared to win much at sports or other “see who is best” events.  Maybe it was because the effects of losing didn’t last long or I’d just rather not dive to the ground just to keep a ball in the air.  Regardless, I did engaged in my own competitions from time to time, but they weren’t always so sportly structured.

Often my rivals were simply my friends in school.  We were all trying our best to get good grades and we were all in the same boat when it came to intelligence, so it was often a close call.  I only had to win by a few inches, not cram for a whole mile.

Other rivals were family members of a similar age vying for attention or adoration from the adults, which we were never actually starved for.

These competitions were constant throughout childhood.  As I got older and became aware of these behaviors, I realized that the scars I was accumulating and causing were not longer a result of healthy competition.  It was down right mean.

Though all of this I always thought of myself as a nice person.  I was at heart a people pleaser to the point where I put other people’s wants above my own.  But I wasn’t fully a nice person.  I inflicted social pain on others when they didn’t even know there was a competition.  I felt triumphant when I finally felt better than a specific person.

Then I looked back and realized that they were just being themselves, reacting to the world, looking for a friend.  Here I was jealous of their natural advantages, needing to prove myself when my friend just stood there defeated by my behavior.

Its been over 10 years since I had this realization.  I’ve since made new friends who were so beyond my own situation in life that I felt no need to compete.  We are simply not comparable because we play life in completely different arenas with completely different rules.  We can simply talk about life and try to understand each other without one-upping.

I still encounter my old rivals, often with compassion and guilt over having “beat” them when they were already too far down to fight.  Others, I just avoid, having never settled the score.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Jane sat leaning on her bedroom’s bay window soaking up the sun on her face while she pretended she was laying on the beach in her hometown. Even though this was the first day in a week that the sun had broken through the dense San Francisco fog, the air outside, helped by the whooshing wind, still sent an annoying chill down her neck whenever she got lazy about tying her scarf correctly.

“It’s always 50 degrees here,” was her latest mantra since it was the first thing that came to mind every time people asked how she was enjoying her freshman year of college.

“Getting into a lot of trouble, I bet!” was another common one. She would stare back blankly or shrug. It wasn’t that she wasn’t enjoying herself; it was that her usual sources of fun no longer existed and the new ones being experienced weren’t reliable old friends she could turn too to ward off her boredom or need for excitement. They were simply fun new experiences with no predictable reoccurrence in her daily routine.

There was plenty going on. Parties, drunken dorm room chats, drama between roommates, and all the usual college campus life experiences that she came there to check out. She had new friends who were getting themselves into all sorts of random situations, but she was still on the outside of it all. Simply going with the flow and wasn’t sure how to breakout of herself.

Her boyfriend wasn’t helping. Even though he was staying home for college they wanted to stay together and still felt connected in their distance relationship, his opinions held her back. She bought a CD off a street performer playing the cello and played it over the phone feeling certain that John would appreciate it but all he said was, “why would you buy a shitty CD off a street performer? I can download something just like it for free online.” She sighed, “I just thought it sounded pretty that’s all. Besides it was only $5.00.” She changed the subject, “Are you coming to visit this weekend? Is your brother’s friend still driving up?” He complained, “Ugh, it is such a long drive, it’ll take like 6 hours.”

He complained. “He was never a good traveller,” his mom explained to her once. “I don’t remember a single time that we drove to Las Vegas without him throwing up. We resorted to sleeping pills once he was old enough, but then he just felt groggy and cranking for hours after we got there.”

He made the drive and was dropped off at his brother’s apartment in Berkley. When she called to tell him which train to take into the city, he was reluctant to take the 45 minute train across the bay from “We’re having a good time here, why don’t you just come join us.” She took the train.

She arrived late after having gotten side tracked by some usual dorm drama and a long deserved nap. He met her at the train station with a big hug and beer ridden kiss and suddenly she felt better. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Nothing, I just think I had a bad day, should be better now, I’m glad you’re here,” she replied with a deep breath and progressive smile. He took her hand and they slowly wandered to his brother’s place.

On shooting yourself in the foot

On shooting yourself in the foot

Yesterday I faced myself as a loser, today I’ve accepted that I’m actually not very smart.  When I go at my own pace and can sort through dilemmas and problems in my own logical order, I make good decisions.  Toss in time constraints and add some pressure and my decision making skills leave me flat on my ass.

The heat suddenly turned up and I started seeing a mirage.  The devil showed me an image of everything I ever wanted and by pointing myself toward his smoke and mirrors, I shot myself in the foot.

The devil is gone and with him went the perfectly good opportunity I tricked myself into not wanting.  So I sit here no further along in my search than when I started just more bored and pissed at my situation.

Yes there are things to do and ways to pass time and keep busy.  But after a few credentials I’ve realized that there is no golden ticket.  All my work has gotten me no where more than to a place where I still make bad decisions under pressure.

 

 

 

People who don’t like being told what to do

People who don’t like being told what to do

I have a never ending fondness for learning new and better ways of doing things.  It makes life continually fascinating to look back at what once made sense and think, “what was I thinking?”  I find it hilarious and entertaining.  Generally I accept advice for my problems positively if the advice really does solve a problem better.  Not everyone does.

I remember old friends pointing out, in a moment of complete frustration, that I am always telling them what to do.  I think there was a disconnect.  Obviously I didn’t always tell them what to do, but if I did it is because I notice that they are struggling with the output of some sort of task and they were constantly complaining that something wasn’t working right.  As a friend, I thought it natural to share a method that worked for me.

These individuals don’t see it that way.  They don’t see advice or opinion as friendly unless they directly asked for it.  Some have inferiority complexes where in they interpret the words “I know a better way” as “you are always doing everything wrong”.  This causes them to get defensive towards the good intention tossed their way.

Some, not all, dislike being “told what to do” so much that they will purposely not follow advice to their own detriment.  They value the liberty in their decision making above seeking the best methods of taking care of oneself.  It is a social disorder in the sense that they will eat unhealthy food because of who told them to eat healthy food instead.  There is no recourse to why they should eat healthy food in their brains.  Until they personally decide to make an effort to keep themselves healthy, they will not take any advice on the subject.  But once the decision is made, suddenly my advice is soaked up like a sponge.

Because of this strange internal switch, I find these people very difficult to be friends with, therefore I avoid them like the plague. This saves me the lecture because when I hear the words: “stop telling me what to do”, I really hear, “you’re a horrible friend.”

On feeling like I’ve done something wrong

On feeling like I’ve done something wrong

There are just so many rules in social life to follow… too many rules!  I know them all so well that I am aware of many many opportunities to to break them, but I don’t break them on the world stage.  Instead I break them in my mind.  I play out the entire scene for my own amusement and often detriment.  Generally the penalty for breaking social rules is embarrassment.  If perchance you happen to not get embarrassed then people go out of their way to explain why you should be embarrassed while giving you those looks meant to teach children to behave and conform.  Having broken many social rules, I am conditioned to be highly aware of rules, so aware that I automatically leave social gatherings with a feeling that I did something wrong.  It is an automatic response that typically lasts until I finish reviewing the event for validation of the feeling.  On a good day this feeling doesn’t bother me, but if I have been stressed, hungover, or not feel particularly well, my ability to deflect irrational thoughts decreases and I become unable to shake it off.  Dwelling in these irrational thoughts only makes me feel worse.  Awareness of what is going on helps but doesn’t fully cure my episode of despair.  All I can do is hope that my general sense of well-being returns to brighten my day.

On status anxiety

On status anxiety

The world is apparently flattening yet all over I still sense a need in people to cling to old forms of social class structures.  Top schools, top jobs, top companies, top designers, top top top top top.  Are we working for money or recognition?  If someone pays you a salary, you are working class.  If you live paycheck to pay check, regardless of income amount, you are broke.  If your net worth is negative, you are broke.

The standard of living gives people a false sense of social standing.  The ability to talk and act “up” also give a false sense of where they stand.  People aren’t competing against each other, people are competing against what others claim to have or be doing.  There is a big difference, especially if you encounter a habitual exaggerator who defines themselves by their dreams not by their actual accomplishments.  But anyway, why the need to compete after the contest is over?  After the good school, good work experience, good standard of living, etc.  At what point does the competitive drive just allow everyone to kick back and simply enjoy the fruits?

i guess I just want the competitive people to shut up.  It is the noise coming out of their mouth, infecting my ears that irritates me.  For some reason my brain finds meaning in it, fearful meaning.  Perhaps my sensitivity to words is just flaring up again.  The words hit at my insecurity about no being smart enough or good enough.  So whenever I hear the competitive chatter, it gets to me.  I don’t like being taunted, teased, or put down.  Words have meaning and I respect them.  Therefore I don’t use them aggressively unless I mean to, but that doesn’t mean I should expect everyone else to follow my same doctrine.

Harnessing my own insecurity would help.  If I accepted that I am perfectly fine and capable, then I could move on.  I could fill in the empty space were my old insecurity sat with something better that doesn’t listen for fearful confirmation.  I could replace it with confidence and the ability to not need to second guess myself.

On the known world

On the known world

I knowingly bought a ticket to the known world.  The place where all the pieces are planned and mapped out.  Where life doesn’t just happen to you.  Where most attempts to find vibrant life end with a mediocre thought of “at least I tried”.  But I bought the ticket anyway because it is a place where I knew I could sit back, feel normal, and make sense of what I’d been through.  Now that I’ve recuperated internally I’m looking out and I can’t help but struggle with my decision.  I look back and wonder what could have been done differently in all the wildness.  I guess the unrealized sense of a piece of life being over has now become fully realized.  In efforts to create a new plan it makes sense to look back and list out all the dislikes in order to make better decisions for the next round.  This time around, part of me didn’t realize it was over.  Part of me is ready to go, part of me wants to stay, and most of me can’t afford to leave.  All in all, it is good that I stepped on the train, because the known world is good for people who don’t know what to do next yet.

Clocks and the Market for Other Worlds

Clocks and the Market for Other Worlds

This world is highly evolved, I’m still amazed by the existence of the clock.  I think it is funny that one day someone looked up and realized that time exists and we can track it.  I think it is even more funny that people write about different worlds because seriously this place exists and has a history (proof of which is given in the existence of a clock) so other places must exist too, right?  What I don’t understand is why this idea of other worlds became embedded into everyday life; here is my guess for how it got started:

I think that once everyone realized the odd existence of this world and postulated other worlds, the idea sparked the dawn of a new industry.  Everywhere people started preaching of what they thought other worlds would look like.  Since technology didn’t exist back then, there was no way to answer the question of “But how do we get to these other worlds?”  So the smartest preachers said “You get to them when you die!”  “When we die?” shrieked everyone in the crowds.

The farmer preacher said “yes! but only if you plough my field really well for your whole life, will you be able to get there.”

And the Doctor preacher said, “Only if you maintain your health and the health of your family will you get to see the best of the other worlds.”

And the evil preacher said, “only if you give into temptation, will I let you have power in the other worlds.”

And the scientist preacher said, “If we can build a space ship together, we can fly past the stars and take a super nova wormhole to travel to other worlds.”

By this point the idea of other worlds had become so prevalent in the society of humans on earth that no one dared question it.  Over time certain preachers gained larger followings than others and we able to wield power over larger and larger groups of people.

It just makes sense to me to stay living for the real world… the one we know exists, then figure out the other worlds when we get there.  But maybe that’s just how I travel.

 

Thinking outside the bar

Thinking outside the bar

There is a difference between understanding a concept and seeing it.  Understanding is the basic theory that people often misinterpret for actually experiencing life that makes you really see how it works.  Unfortunately it takes time to really see something for what it is and often you have to simply grow out of eras of your life to really be able to see the whole phase from a workable perspective.  Clubbing and bar hopping is a prime example.  It seems that most people age out of this phase either once they move back to the suburbs or take on serious full-time career responsibilities.  However, there are a few of us who continue to revisit this phase because we understand it more and so are better able to control the fun by messing with those who are not yet thinking outside the bar.

On learning, cross roads, and the need for something to look forward to

On learning, cross roads, and the need for something to look forward to

So I have learned… but in a different way.  It is no longer about the basics, it is about how all the layers and remembrances come together to make all the cogs and pulleys of my current situation roll together to keep the machine of life running smooth enough to enjoy every minute of it.  For a while there it was difficult to know what from the past I would need to utilize going forward, but once the pieces fell into place, suddenly it all seemed so clear.  Clear enough that I am confident that I can coast along in my boat knowing that I will reap rewards once I arrive at my next cross road.

I need cross roads, perhaps more often than other people do.  They make me feel alive because of all the different emotions and experiences that drive and challenge me towards completion of goals.  I am forced to create goals by my drive to constantly having something to look forward to.