If I want something badly enough, I get it done.
If I am not getting something done, it could be that I didn’t want it badly enough, but contrary to popular belief, that may not be the primary reason for not getting it done.
It could be that with many areas of my life where growth is being inhibited, I am comfortable in a “still learning/still growing” phase, and have taken to identifying with it.
Take math knowledge, for instance. Since I got the D in PreCalc in college, I’ve longed to be able to use more math to develop my understanding of the universe. I’ve bought and checked out lots of PreCalc and intro to Calc books at the library–books for laypeople to understand Newton and Leibniz, etc. And, I’ve developed a vague and general concept of what Calculus is. But, I still have trouble understanding how to make the mental leap from regular Algebra, grasping exactly what makes it different, deriving some sense of how it could be used beyond the simple falling body or acceleration problems everyone starts with.
I think, to some degree, I am mentally stuck in my College Freshman year, unable to proceed without the blessing of some teacher that says “yes, you have finally passed the threshold from Algebra to Calculus, and you know what it is.”
I am incapable of giving myself permission to advance to the next phase of understanding Math, out of fear that I would:
– end up being proven a phony or fraud — how do I get to a place where I know I can successfully demonstrate with confidence what I know?
– find myself among some kind of “elite cabal” who has gained access to this secret knowledge. I can continue to identify myself with the masses, most of whom made it as far in Math as I did.
– become a person I no longer recognize. I am no longer able to use the excuse, “Still learning, please be patient” — I have to come to terms with the fact that I have grown past this phase, for better or for worse.
I still don’t think I’m quite getting to the heart of the matter. To address the first one, I need only think back to my early years of web design/development. It took me about four years from the time I began studying HTML/CSS in earnest to be in a place where I could with confidence say I was a professional, and not a “still learning on the job” kind of person. And then, it was another four-five years before I felt like I could take anything and turn it into a valid HTML page. I quite frankly still don’t know much about it, and have to consult Google on a regular basis to remember how to do things.
But, I did reach a point where I felt comfortable telling people what I did without worrying about someone proving me to be a phony.
The “elite cabal” thing is a little trickier. I’ve long since outgrown the need to sympathize with the masses who don’t get math. I can see that it is simply something any person of average intelligence can learn and get a degree in–if you do the problems, you develop the muscle-like memory to rapidly re-create in your mind how to solve just about anything that once took days of pain to figure out. Again, I’ve developed this kind of understanding from HTML–I’ve developed strategies and ways to look at blocks of code more abstractly to quickly build pages from scratch. As for the true heart of the “elite cabal” thing, I have a love/hate relationship with being on the other side of the door to “secret knowledge.” Of course, Math isn’t really such a thing–anyone with a public library card can receive at least a Bachelor’s level’s worth of Math from books and online access. I think this one revolves around the safety and comfort felt in knowing that I am the passive child learner safely on the other side of the dividing wall of the class, and the adult knowledge expert is that farther from me in this imaginary distance. It has more to do with longing to remain a child, and it may be the most crippling issue of them all.
Which kind of ties to the third bullet item, I think.
So, trying to break this all down:
Remaining the ignorant, “ever learning” sort provides a safe haven from outside attacks. Of course, this is all happening at a very deep level inside me, as the things I have pursued professionally, like Web Development and Marketing, have constantly been critiqued and sharpened based on less-than-receptive audiences.
So, whether I wanted to have it happen or not, my “lazy, safe” choice of being the “web guy” eventually brought me a similar degree of muscle-memory ability to rapidly work with abstract information, and gave me half a life’s worth of developing my ability to meet and deal with criticism–especially people who are eager to expose every weakness or knowledge gap in my area of claimed expertise. Since I don’t have any sort of degree in web development, I’ve had to contend with more than my share of rejection from people who simply can’t believe I could have learned what I do know on the job.
This needs to be explored further.
Learned pattern of behavior, where I was still “stuck” even when I started at C — Age 34.
Responding to charismatic/masculine male personalities (or, likely almost all male personalities):
1. Childlike reaction, react as if you are my daddy-sycophant, smiley, kind of gay.
2. Adolescent reaction, react as if I need to rebel against you, my daddy.
3. Young adult reaction, be a “bro”, even when it seems inappropriate for my age and/or his
4. Fully mature adult reaction, give measured responses of deference, shut down/throw up walls if he is being condescending/disrespectful.
Learned patterns of behavior to elicit maternal responses from females should also be explored. These are more complicated, because my relationship with my mother was more powerful, connected–I simply spent more time with her growing up. Naturally, there is a tendency to see Mom in every single woman, including ones that had the potential for dating/marriage. Being unable to reconcile much of this past emotional conflict and stunted development, I likely went about my single adult years with very poor strategies around dating.
Trying hard to fight learned patterns of behavior every single day. In fact, sometimes it seems like 90% of who I am and what I do consists of bad habits started at an earlier point in life. That anything consisting of identity and ability to accomplish something comes more out of a notion I created in my head, false or not, and the people I surround myself with to help perpetuate the notion.
As an adult, it’s easier to remember when the bad habit started, and it’s also harder to accept when it’s time to change–the widely held myth that our identities are completely fixed by God and/or genetics now pervades our culture in such a way that adults especially are hopelessly stuck in the mode or way of being that they fixed around the time they turned 30.
Quite frankly, and just between me and my journal, I do not believe that being gay is something that has to be one’s ultimate identity–if there is such a thing as an ultimate identity at all. I believe that the combination of genetic and environmental factors certainly contribute to making components of an individual’s identity “fixed’ in ways that cannot be moved, but I think that we are put here into the life we are, the body we are, the time and place that we are, to learn from the biological resources we’ve been provided with. I believe that we all have spirits that existed prior to this life, and will continue to afterward. I am about 80% against the notion of YOLO. I don’t think that’s correct at all. Maybe I’m wrong and reincarnation is all a false notion cooked up by humans and perpetrated by demons to prevent us from accepting who we are.
But, I’ve observed the process of change of my own identity, even in these last five years–because I was completely unhappy and unaccepting with who I was in the face of others. I have never felt any attraction to any man, that I can recall, really, but at the same time, I have always found myself acting flighty and effeminate around strong male personalities. Of course, having gone through college without a girlfriend, everyone (my parents included) probably had written me off as being gay. And, I think in slightly different circumstances, I probably would have accepted that as a viable path, and successfully altered my sexual orientation accordingly. At the end of the day, it really is quite possible to sexualize anything or anyone, and if you meet someone who is especially attracted to YOU, and treating you with adoration, you are probably more open and willing in those dark hours of desperate loneliness to take on a relationship different than any one that you’ve ever dreamed up for yourself.
Fortunately, for my sake, I haven’t really had many women OR men who appeared to be that attracted to me–not much beyond flirty eyes, anyway. Flirty eyes and those quickly fade after the first date or even the first conversation. Then, of course, there are all the flirty eyes that have come my way when a woman clearly is just trying to get something from me at work. Those hardly count.
Fortunately, for my sake, I’ve always had a strong ability to keep myself amused by myself—I have those moments of severe loneliness flare up occasionally, but they are generally met with contempt. Like Bukowski said, there are far worse things than being alone. Being stuck in smothering relationships and relationships with psychotic/sociopathic individuals, for example. Being roped in to a million unwanted obligations from having made the effort to be part of some social group.
Of course, I could be seriously wrong about all manner of reality. It is quite possible that all of the crap that has floated around on the surface for so many years was just the detritus of the toxic environment I was born into–trying to explain my environment of family members at 180 degree odds with each other: Mom/Dad on religion, parents/older brothers on life outlooks (and the adoption just never taking like a bad graft). Mom’s past history of abuse by her stepfathers and subsequent manic foray into Egelical religions. Dad hiding in the den with booze and books from the moment he came home from work until bedtime, and then staying up to watch all the television shows we couldn’t–but all the other kids at school were talking about. Dad chasing R out of the house with a gun, and R hitting mom. Both R and R pretty much disowning my parents and R caring less and less to communicate with me or Dad each passing year.
It certainly didn’t help that by the time we started to have a few calm years as a biological family, I kept feeling the need to be a rock n’ roll rebel because I still looked up to R a lot. It didn’t help that mom got cancer, R got AIDS and completely disowned Dad, mom almost died of cancer, then SMACK–H died in a car wreck…and eight years later Mom dies shortly after R writes a letter pretty much accusing Dad of having stolen him and R from their biological parents.
Trying to explain all this to someone is usually met with “oh, you poor thing, you didn’t get to watch all the shows the other kids did. Boo-hoo.” But, the point is, all of it contributed to me having a stunted growth as an individual, as the individual I knew myself to be under all the craziness my kid self was trying to become as a result of his environment.
I don’t want to dwell on it, but I do want it to be crystallized into some kind of packet of–okay, when I’m faced with situation X and I find myself behaving like C, but want to behave like A, what is stopping me–what is getting in the way? Is it because I have some kind of undiagnosed Asperger’s? Is it because deep down, I really am a woman, and all this manstuff is just me trying to survive in the world in a way that I think wouldn’t shame my parents? I think the answer to both is “no”. Culturally speaking, there are plenty of perfectly heterosexual men who come from, say Eastern Europe, and find our macho bullshit American male to be quite at odds with who they know themselves to be.
Simply put, my CULTURAL upbringing was different enough, though run in parallel to a mainstream one, that I inevitably ended up being a product that has a hopelessly outsider perspective on the American people around me–no matter what their bent or stripe is in terms of religion, politics, sexual orientation, etc.
Really, the above question could become a general equation that I ask myself at all times, whether it is when trying to improve my relations to others socially, or trying to increase the amount of time that I study at night:
I want to do X and be A, BUT I am doing Z and being C — what steps do I need to take to get from: Z -> X and C -> A?
COPY over to new…