writing rengeek magpie mind

December 2014

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writing leri loki

chop wood. carry water.

So I've got this friend who intimidates the hell out of me.

Okay, that's not exactly fair. I have a lot of friends who intimidate the hell out of me.

But there's this one particular friend who is older than I am, who has a formidable intellect, a prodigious recall, an encyclopedic knowledge of the most esoteric things, and is particularly opinionated and articulate about them.

Sometimes, in fact, he scares me spitless. I can feel so inadequate to his company that I hesitate to call him friend (not because, mind you, he has ever treated me in an unfriendly fashion) but because I feel that I don't measure up. I'm more like Bill the Pony than a Fellow of the Ring, if you know what I mean, and I get that way a lot in the company of many of the people I know. 

Well anyway, last night he said something in email that lit my head up inside. In a particularly sticky conversation about a subject of mutual high feelings, he made himself vulnerable.

And it caused me to undergo a bit of an epiphany.

The funny thing about epiphanies is that they're not the same in real life as in fiction. In fiction, you get your epiphany, and then stuff changes. In real life, you have to keep having the same epiphany over and over again.

And somehow it always happens that I have to be reminded over and over again that everybody else is fragile and human too. Like this person, one of the more impressive and erudite people I know, who looks ten feet tall and bulletproof to me. But who gets scared just like everybody else.

And that reminds me that it's nothing to be ashamed of.

The funny thing is, I can manage to remember this in fiction. Nikki Lau, and her bulletproof facade, and the insecurities it hides--she's a very easy person for me to identify with, because of that tension between strength and uncertainty.

But in the real world, I forget that. And I forget to be gentle with people, and compassionate, and realize that 90% of the time any pain they're causing me is because they are fronting as hard as they can, seeking acceptance, looking for a place to go where they can be accepted, trying to look strong so the wolves won't single out them. Possibly even running with the wolves, on the theory that it's safer to be a predator. Or just because it's good to be part of a pack.

It doesn't mean that I have to leave myself defenseless. Because there are wolves, after all. And you can't afford to forget that.

It comes down to the same skill set as dealing with criticism. Most of the time when somebody does something hurtful, it's not about me, and taking it personally just results in boring melodrama.

And on that note, it's time for a grilled cheese sandwich, and then back to the word mines again.

Comments

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Bill the Pony? *Total Hero* *g*
No medal for Chewie!
Yeah. This.
I resemble that remark. Though I identify more with Daphne's way of dealing with insecurities than with Nikki's.

And I read that last line as "word mimes". It made me snicker.
Just out of curiosity, what do you see as Daphne's tactic?
This is a pretty powerful truth, and so freaking hard to remember!
God, it is. Especially when they're trompling all over one in the process of pursuing their own internal drama.
Yes. All that. (and thanks for saying)
Finding the line between compassion for the fact that everyone out there is as terrified as oneself, and not letting them gore one to death in their fear . . . . is really hard.

But important.
...And that was the other half of the thing that I needed to hear. (Bear's post being the first half.) Thank you both.

-Nameseeker
So I've got this friend who intimidates the hell out of me.

*g* That's how I feel about you.
In the immortal words of Kenny Rogers, "There's someone for everyone." ;-)
It always surprises me when some one I respect as much as you describe shows themselves to me as being vulnerable. That's why I figure they are better at hiding their insecurities and playing their strengths.
In real life, you have to keep having the same epiphany over and over again.
I've noticed that as well. Too many times I feel like repeating "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results", but have found, in general, until I've had that epiphany (I prefer to use the term 'satori'; equivalent meanings) hit me over the head multiple times it doesn't sink in.

And the problem with being placed on a pedestal is that, sooner or later, you get knocked off and it's a long fall.
Hmmm, yes. Honestly though I think I've given up on the hope of feeling like I belong anywhere, or am worthy to be part of anyone's circle. Too much hurt comes out of expecting otherwise.
[Sorry, that was unreasonably moody of me. I've spent the last few days dealing with the fact that certain "friends" of mine are trying to drag into my current social circle a man who attempted to sexually assault me a few years back, and it is very distressing and leaving me feeling even out on my own than usual.]

FWIW, you're one of those people who intimidates the heck out of me, but you also make me think about things in ways I wouldn't necessarily have on my own, and I wouldn't let the first thing in any way deter me from enjoying the second.
Bill the Pony happens to be one of my favorite characters. ;)

And I love this post.
My boyfriend's father is like this for me. He does stuff with information systems for DISA and used to work on AI for the DOD. I've been visiting his family off and on for five years now, and I still wonder if I should bring the Special Ed helmet and some glue to snack on when we go over there.

It's hard to remember that everyone, even the ones that make you feel like a blathering idiot without trying, puts their pants on in the morning the same way you do. One leg at a time and possibly the wrong way around until coffee is involved.
I had to remind myself of this truth when one of my day job bosses got canned. One of life's lessons that's so easy to forget.
Love this post. A very good point articulated extremely well.
There are so many people who I wish could realize this. I am working on it myself.
I am curious how one might go about appearing vulnerable.
Appearing vulnerable? Or actually allowing one's self to BE vulnerable?
Yes. This. I was going to put more in this comment, because you've hit a raw spot in my own armor and psyche, but I think I'm going to need to write a post of my own on this.
Very powerful point and one I want to share with my daughter who is going through a particularly bad time with bullies @ school. Thanks

P.S. As someone who admires YOU as being intelligent and articulate I hesitate to think of who could intimidate you in that realm.
I have the benefit of revision on my side!

I hope your daughter finds a place of strength with which to deal with that. Bullies suck.
So true.

Also, one of my other truisms that helps me is "90% of what other people are doing has nothing to do with me." That's a big one to help deflect bipolar paranoia-skids, when I want to convince myself a good friend suddenly hates me because (insert stupid thing here).
Oh yeah. The "Everybody hates me and I am a worthless creep." thing.

I hate that.
<9
<81
There are folks who view eBear as Mighty and Awesome and A Little Bit ZOMG Liek Whoah.

Your protestations to the fallibility of the meat and the brains does help scuff that up some, but I'm still gonna be a tongue-tied fanboy dork if and when I ever see you at a con or workshop. :-)
Hah. I'll do something stupid right up front to defuse the situation, then.
I call epiphanies "oh, duh" moments, because as soon as I have them I realize, "Oh, duh. Of course." They seem like everybody else sees them already, so "epiphany" is such a fancy word for what happens to me.
Trufax: there were moments at Wiscon where I felt like that younger sibling who has to be allowed to tag along even though nobody really wants them there. Times when I felt like I couldn't offer anything to anyone (except through the punning medium of my now-standard NancyButton), and that I'd never have anything intelligent to say at any of the panels I was scheduled on.

And yet, and yet...one of the people that I spent time with while I was there posted afterwards about how they were amazed that all these great folks (specifically listing several including me) wanted to hang out with them. (This from someone who is not only an incredible writer and award-winning poet, but also a great person to just hang out with and talk to about whatever comes to mind.)

Just like you I need those reminders again and again...because we forget the good stuff about ourselves far too easily.

(It's no accident that there was a panel on "Fighting Impostor Syndrome" at Wiscon. I didn't go, but I'm glad there was one.)
In real life, you have to keep having the same epiphany over and over again.


Ack, so true. And you'd think we'd realise this - or I least, I think I should. Instead I so often get home from a social event thinking "Why did I say that? I sounded like an utter moron." And only now and again does it occur to me that I can't remember word for word what other people said, and so the likelihood is that they are angsting over their own self-perceived moments of idiocy, instead of sniggering about mine.
Oh yes.

I have to remind myself (and I have no idea where I read this or heard it or whatevs): Everyone else is so worried about how they look/smell/sound/etc. that they're too busy to worry about you. And then I remind myself that if someone really *does* think s/he is hot shit plus, do I really need to be part of that individual drama?

It's so hard, though, to go through the constant mental merry-go-round of internal pep-talk. Thank you, therapy.

And thanks for the note about becoming part of the pack/predators. I find myself falling into that mind-space every now and then; it takes a lot to pull out of it. Vulnerability makes you so...vulnerable.
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