Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Ideal People

Oh damn. Just when I've been doing so well in improving myself I once again find myself in a funk. Ups and downs, progress and retrogression, back and forth are natural cycles to making long-term progress, but let's dig into this anyways, I guess.

That bum who seemingly tried to kick me has made me much more sensitive to the negativity people portray towards me. The next day, I think, after that encounter with the bum I walked up to a parking money collector to ask him about their policies, and despite my civil and polite tone he spoke angrily immediately. In the past I can recall people who have instantaneously gotten visibly angry with me despite having never met them before, just at the sound of my voice. (I know I don't speak too loudly as to be interpreted as yelling, or having any harsh tones that would indicate gruffness.) I've also been thinking about those who will just inexcusably mistreat me, such as dish washing partners I've had at work who will become verbally hostile if I simply give them a dirty dish (and they don't get angry at anyone else who brings them multiple dirty dishes).

Sure, there's positive people here and there, but the landscape to me looks overwhelmingly negative. I don't know what it is, but there seems to be something in my face or manner or whatever that sets people off. I know I'm not speaking indecently or offensively. I've looked in the mirror as I wrote this, and my face doesn't seem to portray any kind of hostility in its relaxed position. Are they people truly resentful at my proper manner and my cultivated diction? Is it nihilistic hatred of the good for being good?

I think so, because I've noticed how some people will distance themselves or disassociate entirely from me when they discover my writings online, or will at work become angry at me if I try to strive above and beyond, even though it doesn't impose on them or hinder them in absolutely any way. I think this is so because many of these people express these negative feelings towards me (via bullying and other such means) and only me, largely or totally forgoing taking their emotions out on anyone else. For instance, one time a food runner at my previous work place got incredibly upset when his boss told him he had to stay and help close the restaurant. His immediate response was to take dishes and trash from his tables on the floor and to slam them down at my dish counter, without tidying them up, putting them in the proper places, or getting rid of the trash. That was downright bullying, and when I told the boss on him he got very aggressively and then literally threw the dishes at the counter top. They eventually calmed him down, but stupidly he holds a grudge against me as if I did something wrong to him, and have refused to converse with me since. And the incident happen months ago. He was bullying me, not I him. I have a very deep pool of hatred for him.

But aside from this man's unjustifiable anger and unjustifiable treatment, the general response gets worse. His incredibly inexcusable behavior has not weakened his friendships with anyone else in the building, so I feel like I've been done a total injustice because those same people are supposedly friends with me, and yet weren't willing to defend me from their other friend's misconduct. Worse yet, they're willing to invite him for outings and such, and ignore me. Even worse is that this incident, among other things, eventually moved one of my bosses to threaten to fire me because of an "attitude problem" I displayed in the situation, where I left the building until the food runner calmed down. I acted for my safety, not because I was having an "attitude problem."

In this example alone we can pretty much see the entire sum of all the problems I find myself having with people in general. This food runner, upset at his boss for making him stay to close, takes all his anger out on me, when I'm entirely irrelevant to that decision and just an innocent bystander. The mutual friends between the runner and I, those aware of this incident at least, know that his behavior was entirely unjust and just childish meanness, but not only do they not act in my defense they also indicate a bizarrely stronger friendship with him, as they're willing to speak to and hang out with him more frequently to my neglect. Finally, that one (now ex) boss of mine then went so far as to accuse me of problematic behavior in that incident, even though she wasn't even there that night and was engaging in fantasy.

So that how the trend seems to go. People take their problems out on me; others stand by; and still others then go on to try to get me to believe that I'm part of the problem, or am somehow invoking the undeserved problem in the first place.

To all of mankind: Look, all I want to do is become the best I can be in this world. My writings do not violate anyone's rights, and in person I don't not impose on others or making people unduly frustrated. I do not hurt others, steal from others, or anything else. Why does the fact that I write an article or think out my political views make you want to hate me so much? Or why does my self-improvement ventures make you so resentful? I try to be nice to you, or otherwise leave you alone, so why can't you do the same? 

All this is what makes me feel so alone. In the past, I've mostly dealt with people who've either taken their own self-caused mental issues out on me, have had friends I didn't respect or value very much since they weren't willing to acknowledge these wrongs with moral indignation, and then those worst of the worst who try to convince me into believing that I'm somehow at fault as well in bad situations I didn't deserve.

I'm dissatisfied on a very deep level. I'm being careful to be consciously aware of how I view people, as I know there are good people out there, but I'm not seeing a whole lot of them. And even those who are good don't satisfy me enough on a deep level.

I think the happiest times I've had in dealing with people was talking philosophy with my other nerdy friends at the lunch table in high school. Amongst those people we could talk about any subject deeply, and any disagreements were handled with rare civility. We stayed friends all throughout even with differing positions, and really enjoyed the mental exercise. That was very deeply satisfying. And it isn't just philosophy I enjoyed talking deeply about, it's "deep anything."

The primary reason why I don't like socializing in groups, particularly with people my own age (I'm still in my early twenties), is that there's so little individual attention. People are leaping from subject to subject, triviality to triviality, and switching from activity to activity. Large groups always feel like people are always speaking and looking, but never actually listening or seeing. I like engaging on focusing on someone intensively and digging more deeply into subjects for longer lengths of time. When I'm in groups I tend to be a wallflower not because I'm shy, but rather because I'm so bored and disinterested.

I've since lost contact with most of those friends I had those satisfying discussions with. My discontent began to arise when I took my conversational habits I trained with them and used them on other people, to much a terrible response. Whenever I tried speaking philosophy with my family, for instance, many would become very cowardly distraught, uncivil, hostile, and even begin yelling. Worse yet is that they couldn't handle a disagreement, and would become even more hostile in the face of them or actually, literally develop an obsession with my viewpoint and dwell on it for weeks or months, continually bringing the conversation back up and beating a dead horse. For a short while I got some fulfillment from arguing in philosophy classes with other students, but despite the civil debates they were stressed out and repelled, and chose to distance themselves from me even as I became more fond of them.

Ideally, I'd like to meet people who can focus and concentrate on subjects for longer periods of time, handle stress and disagreements without resorting to irrational tactics, and enjoy coming back to these kinds of conversations over and over again. I'm surprise at how rare these people are.

But I still need to do more thinking. After losing contact with my own, more civil friends and having to spend so many years dealing with people who couldn't handle those conversations civilly, I've practically forgotten what it is I enjoy talking about, or what would fulfill me in dealing with other people. I'm so used to being alone that it's how I perpetually imagine myself -- I almost can't fathom a life where people play a more regular role -- and when I do engage in conversation I don't invest myself very deeply because I never anticipate any interesting depth, just soundbites.

So, what to do? First off, I must keep my eyes open for good people and be sure to try to judge others as accurately as possible, lest I let my current negative feelings cast a all-are-bad generalization upon everyone. Secondly, I need to consider where the kind of people I'd like to meet would gather and group. And thirdly -- perhaps the most beneficial -- I should consider just how it is I would like to conduct a fulfilling conversation, and actually try to engage them with the people I enjoy dealing with. Perhaps my soundbite conversations are so unfulfilling only because I'm not investing myself; perhaps if I showed more interest and dug a little deeper, the conversational partner would reciprocate.

I'm definitely very aware of the ways in which I could be sabotaging my relationships, such as by making self-fulfilling prophecies by showing disinterest in interaction or casting over-generalized negative estimates, so there's a definite watch on that. Right now, I'm just in a purely bad mood. Sometimes I can endure everything else, but the symbolism of a bum's attempted kick will set off a whole stream of negative thinking, bringing me down. And on the other hand this could be a sign of progress: neurologically speaking, I don't think the brain wants to build or destroy neurons or neuronal networks because of the work and energy involved, just like how weight lifting to build muscle is uncomfortable, so it's possible my brain could be stimulating networks that give rise to negative thinking/feelings to encourage me to strengthen them, since it would be easier to strengthen and maintain them rather than undo it all and replace it.

As always, life -- and I with it -- goes on.

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