I was walking to work today, head facing slightly downward, when my mind wandered to an idea I’ve seen here and elsewhere: people hang their head down because they’re not confident.
Confident at what, though?
I invite you to challenge the way you think about yourself, a way that many people think of everyone. I invite you to challenge yourself to accept the seeming contradiction of your parts, the volatility of your emotional experience.
The basic questions we expect to ask or have answered about who people are don’t usually have any context. "Are you a confident person?" assumes an answer that represents our essence, is always true and true no matter where a person is. And yet this way we understand ourselves and other people doesn’t reflect any real situation; meaning it is not reality at all because we ALWAYS live in a specific situation.
We see that an athlete is excellent, we think of her as a confident person, but how confident would she be piloting a helicopter or performing open heart surgery? Is confidence something essential to her personality, or does it depend more on her skills, experience and what situation she finds herself in? I think it’s obvious that it’s the latter.
Our temptation is to think in terms of our essential person, but that denies us a level of our own humanity because we are not paintings on a canvas. While we tend to stay true to a certain temperament and style, we are dynamic, and we can surprise even ourselves.
Person tells you how awesome someone else’s advice was… YOU TOLD PERSON THE EXACT SAME THING A BAZILLION YEARS EARLIER AND THEY THOUGHT IT WAS WRONG.
Person talks to you, lavishing their praises on someone else for thing. PERSON DOESN’T SEEM TO CARE OR NOTICE THAT YOU DO THING TOO.
Person asks for but ignores your advice. PERSON COMPLAINS TO YOU HOW EVERYTHING IS GOING WRONG AND ASKS YOU TO FIX IT.
Person claims you are one of their best friends. ONLY TALKS TO YOU WHEN THEY NEED SOMETHING.
Person talks to you regularly, sharing many important parts of their life. PERSON COMPLAINS OR GETS DISTRACTED WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT YOURS.
Person asks for your advice regularly. PERSON JEALOUS BECAUSE YOUR LIFE IS “SO EASY.”
Joint production by me and cyanidevixen
Haha just taking a minute to be vain and complain about the silly shit in life that bothers me and a friend sometimes XD it’s just for fun. life’s too big to take this stuff too seriously.
I’ve been accused of being pretentious because of the words I use on the internet. What my accusers don’t realize is that this is just how I talk sometimes, and I really consider it a handicap! lol
I was in an experiment where I had to describe shapes on a computer screen so that the person on the other side could guess them.
What I said.
It’s an oblong circularish shape of bluish-green tint on the upper right quadrant of the screen.
What it really was
A teal oval on the upper right.
Like wtf haha. The whole time, I just imagined the recipient thinking, “Wtf is this guys problem?” I walked out of the experiment feeling REALLY embarassed lmao. I don’t know what goes on in my head sometimes. I honestly just didn’t think “teal oval” until afterward.
The first: as a young person, I take for granted that liberalism should be normative (particularly and mostly referring to social liberalism). That’s naive, of course. For the vast majority of history, social liberalism in lots of areas wasn’t the norm. I just never really stopped to realize that I’m actually living through the transformation of society.
I see conservatives as these old, entrenched and absurd ideals from many yester-years. But really, they are representing the overarching norms. It’s tradition for our society to be homophobic, racist, sexist and generally stupid. Secularism really is a new, somewhat radical thing to propose, too. Realizing this helps put my life in perspective. Now I see that we’re not necessarily slipping on a slope back into the freakin’ dark ages. We’re just struggling to continue the climb, but progress is being made.
The second: maybe other people don’t think like me. I’m not referring to the content of my thoughts entirely. I’m also referring to the manner. Allow me to illustrate.
"I walked along the edge of the pond, the waters shimmering slightly in the afternoon sun. A fish caught my eye as it meandered its way through the waters, perhaps in search of a bite to eat. I wondered if it noticed me; noticed the world above the waters. It was in that moment, I began to comprehend the enormity of life and how very tiny I was."
That’s something you might read in a book or something, right? Okay, well I realized that this may not actually be how people think. What do I mean? I was reading Catcher in the Rye, and I wondered whether or not it was normal for people’s thoughts to be legible. If I were to sample people’s minds, would I be able to write them down and make coherent sentences? Or do most people not have legible thoughts? Do they think in color, shape and pitch?
What I’m writing here is what I think. Literally. This is very close to how my thoughts are when I am alone inside my head with no audience. I think nearly complete sentences (much faster than I can speak them, though). And the content is usually related to something larger than living in the moment. I wonder about people I see. Who are they? I remember events from the past. How could they have happened diffrently?
So what’s in another person’s mind? Would their thoughts be legible to me? Is my way of thinking, my “legible” way of thinking unique, common, rare? Do people think in narrative the way you can read a book? I do.
I asked my friends. They gave me the impression that I am odd. It doesn’t matter how common it is, really. I just never imagined that maybe others don’t think in language and abstractions. Realizing it has enlightened me.
I think it’s worth saying that we have more in common because of our shared personhood than we have in difference because of our religious, political or economic beliefs (and/or lack thereof).