Posts Tagged ‘rationality’

h1

fear and self-loathing.

March 11, 2010

Lately I’ve noticed something about myself that never used to be the case.  Part of the idea of this blog is that I can use it to look at myself, examine my emotions and think things through.  It’s cathartic for me to write, but it’s also a way of me holding up a mirror to myself and trying to untangle emotions and confusion in my brain and heart.  By ordering things on the page and trying to make them as logical / rational as possible (which it isn’t always!) I can sort things out so that I can understand them myself, just as much as so that you all can understand, relate to and empathise with what I’m going through (and hopefully touch those of you who are or have been going through the same).

However, I now can’t tolerate the idea of doing personality quizzes, self-assessment or delving into my past and my psyche in a semi-public arena.  For not the first time, on Tuesday afternoon we had a class about psychometric testing and using these tests to determine a person’s aptitudes and skills.  This was fine, it was quite interesting and we did some example questions on verbal & non-verbal reasoning, numeracy, and spatial and mechanical awareness.  We then moved on to those psychometric tests which can be used to assess personality.  Now, although our lecturer dutifully informed us that we were all a mixture of every type of personality, and that every combination was positive, my back was immediately up.  As the example questions began, I felt a violent urge to disengage from the class and decided to quickly fill in my answers and then doodle on my page, not talking to anyone and not joining in any discussions sharing types, answers and anecdotes.  I wasn’t interested, I felt that a quiz of 8 questions (we did a very shortened version, since the full test is 88 questions!) was NOT enough to diagnose who I am, and I wasn’t interested in what anyone else had to say, whether anyone else felt that they really were what the quiz said they were or whatever.  I just wanted to get out.

I was talking to Mike, and later Toby, about my reaction – I was in a bad mood for several hours after this.  Why had I reacted so negatively to it?  Part of it is genuinely that I do not think that any quiz has a right to put me in a box or tell me who I am.  Because of this, as a careers adviser I myself probably would not use psychometrics to “analyse” clients, since that would be pretty hypocritical seeing as I can’t complete one myself (though once I had calmed down, I later on looked up my answer to the quiz, and while it was pretty flattering and seemed valid enough, I took it with a pinch of salt and forgot about it).  So I don’t like being generalised, and I don’t like being told who I am by somebody or something which evidently thinks it knows better, and which claims to be able to penetrate to the core of me in a matter of minutes.  I’m much more complex than that – we all are! – and I think that should be respected.  That’s part of it.

But part of it, if I am totally honest, is perhaps that I just don’t want to analyse myself in that way, and certainly not in a room with other people.  If it truly is going to delve into my psyche (which I still doubt), then the result should be for me and me alone.  Maybe a little bit of me is scared about what if it says something that really is undeniably true, but also that I utterly detest and despise?  Does that mean I am scared of myself? I hate myself?  What does that mean?  The fact is that this isn’t the first time I’ve reacted like this to delving into my past and my background (educational and personal) during class activities.  It’s probably the third, if I remember rightly.  I never used to be like this, and it concerns me a tiny bit – what am I so afraid of?  Why do I have such a sudden, strong negative reaction?  This reaction is only worsened by the fact that I know I’m overreacting – Mike said that he doesn’t take the quizzes seriously as they are usually a bunch of nonsense, and I know he’s mostly right.  Is it the fact he might be a tiny bit wrong that fills me with dread?  Is it dread that I’m filled with, or is it self-loathing, confusion or ignorance?  What’s going on with me?

The most rational thing that I can think of is that I’ve worked so damn hard to become the best person I can be, to become the person I’ve always wanted to be.  Over the years I’ve raised my intelligence, lost weight, learned to write, sing and produce my own music which I now market (check it out here!), made a lot of progress towards looking the way that I want to, become a lot more sociable and popular, made some wonderful friends, and I am proud of the person that I have become, while I still acknowledge that I have plenty further to go before I feel remotely satisfied with my achievements in life.  I’ve changed a lot – superficially, I’ve lost a lot of weight, stepped my fashion game up, dyed my hair and exercise regularly while watching what I eat.  Even though I’m plenty insecure inside, I know how to portray confidence and appear secure because at the end of the day, if I chicken out and don’t do something, it doesn’t get done and I regret not trying.  I’ve made all this personal progress and tried to change and improve the person that I am so much to be the better man that I want to be, aim to be… so what if one of these personality tests shows all that progress to be an illusion?  What if I’m just the same person as I was before, before I came so far?  Deep down, can we ever evolve? I believe I’ve evolved, I’ve grown a lot… it doesn’t feel like a lie.  I know logically that a quiz cannot discredit the progress I feel that I’ve made – the only person that can measure that is me.  But if it cut me down and put me back at square one, what then? What if it all means nothing and I’m destined to be the same person I used to be?  Is that what I’m afraid of?

I just don’t know.

h1

edgier.

December 10, 2009

Having been on my new university course for 3 months now, and having made some really close friends who are generally a few years older than me (my closest friends on the course are 33 and 35), I’ve really been able to see how far I’ve come as a person.

Looking back at myself even 4 months ago when I had only started writing this blog, I knew myself, but myself was unsure and nervous.  I felt as if I was in a rut professionally after graduating with a good degree from a prestigious university, personally I had had “friends” who turned out not to be friends at all slander me and accuse me of things (theft, bullying) that I had and have never done, and would never do in a million years.  I took it all on the chin and just had faith that things would get better, but I knew in my heart that I didn’t know what would happen.  Would this careers guidance course be the right decision for me?  What was going to happen to me?  Had I peaked already in my life?

The answer to that last question, now I see, is an emphatic NO! Obviously I was only 23 (now 24) and to paint myself as an underdog who had it all and then lost it was more than a little unfair to myself.  I now know that I have so much going for me, so much to offer, and I am not an ugly or stupid person no matter how much certain people may endeavour to make me feel that about myself.  I deserve the best, and with this new qualification, new friends who seem to value me for me from the jump, and new confidence, I feel that I can get the best.  Once again, I’m back on track, and more than anything I’m so relieved.  I may paint myself as confident and assertive – and I am those things – but underneath I still get nervous and insecure.  Now, I finally see that I really am worth more.

I guess it’s a part of natural evolution.  I’ve grown up a lot, and although it took pointing out, I am older than my years.  I don’t feel out of place hanging out with 30-year-olds, because we have the same mentality and experiences.  People generally have trouble guessing my age (I still get ID’d for buying cigarettes on the one hand – which makes Mike LOL and envious at the same time!; on the other hand, a couple of people on my course originally thought I was late 20s because of the fact I can articulate myself and hold my own in discussions), but although I may tease my colleagues at university about receding hairlines, wrinkles and old age, I don’t feel any difference between us.  Aaliyah really had it right – age ain’t nothin’ but a number.  Usually it correlates to maturity, but not always.  At the end of the day, people are people, and we are all human.

These are things that I already knew to be true, but having them held up in front of me has forced me to accept these things as positives about myself.  It’s finally really sinking in.  And the truth of who I am as a man, as a human being, is finally coming out.  This is what I wanted to write about really, but it took the backstory above to get there! (Sorry… but I always give you the main course – no snacks here!)  I thought that I was an adult after university (by which I mean my undergraduate degree at Oxford), but it took me a bit longer.  Working at the Perfume Shop gave me a taste of the hard grind, working for not enough money and being treated like I didn’t have a brain (the saving grace was superficially decent friendships and getting to work with fragrance and deepen my knowledge of it).  My newer job at the hospital has made me see how people can be valued in their work, both monetarily and in terms of being treated like an intelligent human being.  My new course at university has helped me see what I really want to do, and now having that thrust forward has completed me and erased some of my doubts (not all, but some is certainly a step forward) about my future and my life’s purpose.

As things around me have been moving in the right direction, so I’ve been able to spread my wings and become more of who I am.  I love smoking – I’m not a moron and I know it’s not good for my health nor my voice, but I enjoy the feeling from it, the fact it kills time, and the socialising aspect of it – I think it goes hand in hand with being confident and conversational, as you often get approached by people who want a light / spare fag, and you end up conversing with strangers because you share an appreciation of nicotine!  In turn, smoking has reduced my hunger (allowing me to stick to my no-evening-snacking policy) and I’ve dropped a waist size – people at uni have christened me “good looking”, “pretty boy” and lots of other complimentary things referencing both my physical looks and my fashion style. I feel more confident in and out of my clothes – although I’m such a perfectionist that I’ll never be satisfied!  But looking at my vanity and my past issues with my own body and self-esteem, I’ve come a long way.  I feel happier in my skin physically as well as emotionally – and I’m feeling more confident to express the edgier, darker sides of myself which set me apart from others.

After years of deliberation, changing my mind and refining my ideas, I’m finally set on getting tattoos!  One is a stylised A, which you can see here; the other will be above my left collarbone mirroring it, and will be a gun.  I’ve been inspired by Rihanna‘s gun tattoo, but I want it because to me a gun is a symbol of strength and power, of aggression and conflict, of edginess and darkness.  These are all things that I embody – I am tougher than some people initially assume, and I want an emblem of that grit and fire.  I feel it’s applicable to me, and also quite exciting and sexy.  And whereas before I might have balked at the permanence of a tattoo like that, now I feel mature and comfortable enough in myself to be able to wear it and pull it off.  This is me – maybe I’m a good boy gone bad, but I still have a good heart; I have just spent too long in my life pleasing others, and now I’ve finally lunged for myself with this course and am reaping the rewards much more than I ever did listening to other people’s opinions on what was best for me, I believe in my own capacity to make decisions.  I’m not an angel, I’m not a good boy, and I’m tired of portraying that.  I am me and I have a good heart and an intelligent mind, but sometimes I enjoy being provocative or sexy or pushing the boundaries.  That is just as valid a part of me, and my new friendships embrace that part of me too and love me for it.  My infatuation with a married man who has become my best friend and is actively ok with my affection and flirting and actively returns it has been a revelation to me.  We understand each other, we can control our affections (he feels the same way about someone else) and be mature adults, but we also have fun with it – we accept each other and I never felt so comfortable to be able to be so emotionally honest with someone I knew would accept me for who I am. From him I learned what it is to be a good father, a good husband, a good man, and also that whatever I’m feeling, I am a rational person and I should never feel guilty for my feelings.  I should never feel stupid, and the sign of a good friendship is being able to admit how you’re feeling and that other person accepting you for it and not telling you it’s wrong or silly.  Again, these are things I superficially knew, but feeling and living them is a whole other revelation.  I hope that my friends can one day think of me in the same way.

So my embracing my dark side instead of being afraid of it; my becoming edgier is a natural emancipation, a natural evolution of me.  I am free to be who I am, and I am proud of who I am.  I’ve felt ashamed, even in small doses, for too long.  It took a long time to get here, and I’m sure in the future I will still make mistakes and waver, but hopefully I can come back and read this post and remember my feelings right now, and that’ll keep me going.  Once a good boy goes bad, we’re gone forever – but I wish I’d gone sooner and I look forward to where I’m going and whom I’m going with.

h1

why should i be sad?

July 28, 2009

I decided to name this post after my favourite track from Britney Spears’ album Blackout because it kinda sums up how I’ve been feeling.  I think at times we all get the temptation to feel sorry for ourselves, but in a way this self-pity is something we can rationalise and yet something we know we shouldn’t do (or don’t need to feel).  There’s a tension between appreciating the good things in your life, and then seeing how you could still improve your life and all the faults that exist within it.  I will explain with illustrations from my very own personal life. 😉

With the last person I officially dated, L, I knew all along that I wasn’t really into the relationship.  And it was all too clear just how into me he was.  On the surface, he was kind, attentive, considerate and charming, if a little bit childlike (despite being 3 years my senior).  But I knew, deep down, that I didn’t feel for him how he obviously felt for me, and my failing was not putting a stop to it and nipping it in the bud.  Instead, I kept going hoping that my feelings would grow to match his, and perhaps accepting my caution at first as a defence mechanism after previous bad experiences.  But finally, it became clear to me that I had to break up with him, though I ended up doing it by accident… I sent him a text message I meant to send to my friend, saying that I couldn’t take the situation anymore and that I had to break up with L, as it was making me ill.  So L received this and went insane, and we had a breakup-via-text that I never meant to initiate.  I apologised and explained that it was all a mistake, and sending a text message to the wrong person happens all the time.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and all my friends have done it just as I now have.  And yet, be it out of hurt or out of anger, my apology was rejected because L and “his friends” (whom I never met and who never met me) decided that I had decided to send the text on purpose.  I had nothing more to say, because I had attempted to apologise, and I wasn’t going to pursue L when I’d wanted us to be apart anyway.  I will always regret the way that it happened, but I suppose I got what I wanted.  And yet, despite it being an accident, for weeks afterwards I felt like a bad person, like the guilty one because I had caused pain to someone else.  Perhaps because I knew I should have broken things off before that point.  I was angry because my friends, whom L had met, had been nothing but nice to him, whereas I’d never met his friends and yet they were perfectly ready to pass judgment on me and analyse non-existent reasons for my text message, rather than take my apology at face value.  So I was irritated, and I was relieved, but mostly I felt guilty for hurting someone.  And yet, it was an escape from a face-to-face scenario (which I was planning that week, but considering L’s reaction over text messages, perhaps breaking up in person would have meant that he’d caused a scene in the café – lucky escape?) and I never had to see him or hear from him again.  Is that really what I wanted?  I guess so.  So why should I be sad?

For anyone who read my detective blog yesterday, J did come back on msn.  Although he didn’t really change his monosyllabic style of talking, he did seem a little bit more open.  He maintained that his msn was crashing (I don’t believe this for a second) but that he wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed or anything, so fine.  And this is the funny thing: even though he was the one perpetrating a sort of deception, I once again felt guilty (I obviously inherited the Catholic guilt from my mother’s family, despite not being Catholic myself) because I’d unceremoniously uncovered his secret – however shabbily-kept – and confronted him with it.  I felt like I’d embarrassed him, because there is nothing wrong with being direct and asking for sex online if you so wish; there are plenty who are only too happy to oblige.  So I tried to keep things light and smooth things over.  Why did I feel the need to do this? I wasn’t the one who had tried to hide my identity, who had effectively advertised for people to come into my house and rape me, who had pretended that I didn’t want people to see my body.  All I’d done was uncover that J had done these things, and yet in a way I felt like I had robbed him of a tiny piece of dignity.  Perhaps that was a part of his façade, and I guess I felt like I’d ripped it away.  But why so guilty?  If it had been me, the person wouldn’t have given it a second thought… So why should I feel sad?

I decided to return B’s text, and he replied after a while wishing me luck, and saying he had work all week also.  I thought I might as well bite the bullet, since I’ve all but lost interest, and asked him whether he had received my invite to the cinema and how come he was never on msn anymore (we used to have really long, intimate conversations on there at first).  Again, no reply as of yet, and I don’t even expect one.  I don’t think that B is a malicious person, and I like him, but I’m not under any delusions – he’s a little bit crazy.  He doesn’t think anything of only replying to people when he chooses, and one minute he can’t leave me alone, the next he disappears off the face of the earth.  It makes no sense; and yet I anticipated that something like this would happen.  I’m not surprised, because my paranoia once again was proved right.  I’m not going to waste my time pursuing somebody who can’t communicate, and I’m not going to expect a high level of friendship from someone until they show they can be more consistent and reliable.  And yet, I feel guilty once again: what did I do to drive him away? Am I ugly to him? Am I boring? Does he just not want to go on a date?  My heart hurts and the guilt fades all too slowly, despite the fact that I know in my head that I should aim higher and not get strung out on people who already irritate me with their fluctuating attention spans.  So why should I be sad?

I know that in this blog I’ve focused a fair amount of the fact that I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, having graduated from Oxford University with a good degree.  As a child and a teenager, I always seemed to do the right things, and despite never being the richest or the most popular at school, I was someone who seemed to have everything going for me.  And I can’t complain; I’ve lived in Spain, I’ve studied at a prestigious university, I’ve paid off my overdraft and credit cards, I’ve been a retail manager, I have a close family and close friends, I write, sing and produce my own music, I’m starting a new university course in September which will hopefully give me the extra kick I need to get a job at Connexions that I will enjoy.  It’s hard to believe in myself when life takes me on a different course to what I intended, but despite this year being a bit less exciting than what I’d intended, I suppose I shouldn’t waste my time feeling down.  Half of me feels like I’m stuck in a rut, but I know it won’t last for long.  I try to keep in mind all of the achievements I’ve made and the positive things, and compared to others, I guess I’m pretty lucky (though I won’t complain to be luckier!).  So why should I be sad?

h1

no good advice.

July 26, 2009

I’ve always been someone to whom people have come to for advice, or to listen to their problems or whatever’s been going on with them.  As good as I am at talking (which is very!), I am a good listener and I try to keep a balanced perspective as much as is possible so I can evaluate people’s problems fairly and give the best support that I can.  And quite often, the best form of support isn’t advice where you tell them to do something specific, but rather where you just lay out their options in front of them, some possible scenarios of what might happen depending on what they choose to do, and then just leave it up to them.  That’s what I was trained to do in Peer Support and I fully stand by it.  Although I accept that sometimes people may know better than me, I try to listen to what people say and observe what is happening around me, and then choose whether to take certain pieces of advice or go my own way.

Nevertheless, in view of the rapidity with which my life appears to be falling apart and going the very opposite of whatever “according to plan” is, I don’t really feel that I’m the right person for people to come to for advice.  I feel hypocritical talking about relationships because my track record is pretty bad; I feel strange applying for a Careers Guidance course because if anyone could use some serious careers guidance, it is me!  But my friends assure me that I am “rational” and “have a sensible head on my shoulders”; I like to think they are right, and that I was brought up well and I’ve observed the world around me enough to know what is right and what is wrong (though the lines so often blur).  I think it stems from the fact that my advice works so well for other people, but when it comes my turn to take this advice, it’s so much more difficult… That, and the fact I seem to attract people who are batshit crazy (in a variety of ways!).

So I wanted to write this piece of advice down that I dispensed today… it goes against my usual strategy of “hard to get”, and it is an attempt to counteract the stressing of “what if” and strategising behind when to send texts and how many kisses to put at the end of them.  These things are important, but they haven’t gotten me anywhere… the only thing that’s been proved right (and all my friends proved wrong) lately is my paranoia!  So I want to make a record of this, in case it might help somebody, and hopefully I’ll learn to follow it too… :

Just do what you think is right, and do whatever is rational to you.  Men are so random and crazy, they can turn on and off at the flick of a switch, and disappear and reappear at will. So just be yourself, and don’t limit yourself to one of them until you’re sure they are at least temporarily committed to you.

It’s not a long piece of advice, but I imagine at certain moments I’ll find it a bitter pill to swallow. The job of my friends, and of you guys who are reading (hah, I bet you didn’t know you’d signed up for this!), is to make me swallow this pill when necessary… because the pill is, in reality, a vitamin.

(Thankyou to Nick and Hannah for making me blog this 🙂 – please give their blogs a visit, they’re both talented writers!)