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"On Being Nondescript", an Essay
I'm sure I've written on this before at some point, but it is something that's been on my mind for a while.
One thing I can say for certain about myself is that I do not make myself out to be more than I am to other people. I don't project a false identity of control or confidence or any of that. Some people make up a whole mentality about never appearing weak, or never this, or never that. They have to appear a certain way to people.
Well, internally, I'm pretty honest with myself, and it probably shows on my exterior. For instance, I was never particularly talented in school, and not known at all for being particularly good at anything while in school.
I was never great at baseball, or tennis, or any other sport. I mean, I was good enough to play it at an informal level, but never got really really good at it.
I realize my limit at things I undertake pretty quickly. I get that lingering feeling that I'm not progressing like I should (knowing that sometimes it takes longer to raise your ability to the next level) and that other people out there are getting better faster than I am.
Not that any of this is much different from almost everyone else out there, but I'm just writing about how it personally feels to realize how it all fits together.
Which leads me to wonder if I'm really all that honest with myself, because only now do I tend to feel that nothing I do is rather significant or worthy of praise or indicative of talent. I mean, I never found my web design to be amazingly good, but just serviceable (as it should be for any web designer), and I know my writing is not really up to snuff in any form and that I lacked the discipline to engage in any style besides wild unfocused rants about whatever bothered me that day.
I'm not great at basketball, although in terms of accessibility and enjoyment and love for the game, I think it allows me to pursue it harder than tennis or baseball, which had their own hindering forces. (needing a team to play, or windy weather, or rain, or snow, or lots of cash) And in fact I feel that I can get pretty good at basketball, if I could find someone who could take the time out to coach me.
But anyway, my point is that I am realizing that I'm altogether unremarkable. For a while there I deluded myself into thinking my line of pursuit in life so far was unique, but then I run into people every day who did everything I've done and more, people who have the spark that one needs to do something great (or at the very least do something famous) and I feel insignificant.
I'm not good-looking by any means, and while I wouldn't say I'm ugly, I think I LOOK so odd that it throws people off. That Anna, one of the hottest chicks I've seen in my life, would be interested in me to the depth that she was is sadly something that baffles me. Plus my demeanor (perhaps as a byproduct) is very introverted and not instantly communicative. While I feel that I can get along with a wide variety of personalities, whether they find me interesting enough or whether I can get to the point where they're comfortable talking to me remain problems. I do not get placed in the sorts of situations where I would meet women regularly, so when I do, it would require some sort of cheesy pickup line, something I feel bad about for anyone who would have to put up with listening to it. Plus I am saddened when I hear stories of friends and their girlfriends, or random stories online, where relationships do not seem much like romance or love, but more like hate or deceit or jealousy or disinterest or all that bad shit. Rarely do I hear good stories on that front. Plus I've regained that negative vibe against feminists, tending to believe that relationships should not digress into purely female-ruled tiptoeing bitchfests, and blahblahblah.
But you know, when I think about it, there is one thing I've done in my life that I can to this day 100% honestly feel that I tried my hardest and worked in a very good way on. And that was my relationship with Anna. In terms of how my effort level was, I am very pleased with it. I did not do it halfassed. Anna woke up my heart and it was one of precious times that I did feel as though I was doing something actively good and right in my heart. It felt good. Even when I do random nice things for people, going out of my way and expecting nothing in return (even to the point where they never have a chance to thank me), I still do not feel all that good about it. I do not know why.
In terms of ideas and theories about the way the world works, I feel I have a good instinct for things, but like most people, I don't altogether trust it just yet. In my daily activities I collect a lot of the latest information, but always in a sort of manner like throwing a hook into the water and seeing what it picks up. It's never exhaustive, never remembered for long periods of time. That is, it's not like memorizing a medical diagnosis book or learning a language back to front.
I can't say if I pick up new things quickly, or if I have a good memory, or if I have good decision-making skills, or if I do a lot of other things that many people have definite opinions about regarding themselves. I think I pay attention to exceptions to any sort of general rule so closely that it sometimes makes me lose concentration regarding underlying trends. Which I guess can be bad when trading stocks, something that requires looking at many different time periods, each having their own trend.
I talked to some young kids today, or rather, they started talking to me, and once someone does that, I pick up the flow very well, and one of the girls says she wants to get on TV and all this shit, and I can totally tell that she has the personality that would excel for television. It's this sort of charisma and ability to keep talking about interesting things and magnetism that keeps you listening intently. I know exactly what quality it is but cannot reproduce it in myself. I realized this when filming the Survivor application video, in which I look back at it now and know just how ordinary I must seem to anyone else, and how it lacks the on-screen flair I would need to be brought back. The people who make it have charisma and engaging qualities. I guess I don't.
I think I possess a good internal barometer of what's going to be a hit or not, which I'm sure is applicable somewhere in some way. I can tell if things are going to pan out or not early on. But then again, I guess most people can.
See? It gets confusing. Through my life I've kept in touch with older people who tend to tell me lots of praising things and whatnot, but it didn't always jive with what I felt inside so a lot of it kind of impacted me in a hollow way, like, I didn't gain a lot of confidence from it because I did not believe it myself. Perhaps it's just that I've in general lacked a very close person who reinforces me by telling me what I'm good and not good at. I think girlfriends are very important for this.
When I stayed with my brother in Hawaii, it came through in just hanging out with him and in our conversations that he thinks that I live a very narrow life that needs lots of broadening out and experience in order to make it a richer one. And it pissed me off but I realized that he's right about all that, as loathe as I am to admit it about myself.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm slipping comfortably into mediocrity. I have never had a killer competitive instinct. I don't backstab people and I don't jump off peoples' backs to get places. But maybe I should. I'm not sure. I don't put on a gameface like I should at key times, I know that much. It's not that I don't have my heart in it, it's more like I realize my shortcomings and won't delude myself into ignoring them. Maybe there's something to be said about hard work and learning and experience to eliminate any minor shortcomings to unlock something far greater, but this is a hard task for anyone to do.
Back to mediocrity. I do not have wild aspirations to save the world or come up with the next big idea or change how everyone thinks or any of that. I know that I could live very comfortably on not that much money and that my emphasis would be on traveling and experiencing things. So unique, right? But I don't need a multi-million dollar house and seven sports cars and all that. But maybe if I really wanted to be wealthy and famous and successful, I would need to believe that I was meant to have them? Again, I don't know. I would be content not owning many assets, and living like a nomad. That's how I feel now at least. Trading would easily sustain a comfortable lifestyle, although I think the prospects of becoming a playboy through trading are non-existent.
So we're still left with me trying to figure out what my place is in the world, and how much ability I have to make a dent in history. Through my trading I've developed a keen cynicism about corporations and businesses, and I believe the way they're run today is completely outrageous and I wonder how they keep managing to succeed and have their stocks and expectations sent higher.
Then again I do feel as though I have the ability to sift through the crap and find something that would offer a considerable niche in the marketplace to start a business in and run it efficiently and intelligently. I know the opportunity probably won't arise for a few more years yet, but I do believe that it has my name on it.
Not that I can wait for it. But it takes away from my luster in doing everything when I get this feeling that I might end up being nondescript, unimportant to anyone and anything. I realize that the successful people are driven and ambitious, but at the same time I also see that a lot of the shit that got them to where they were was pure luck. It is a very confusing world I believe we live in. Some things happen without rhyme or reason, and others happen because of careful planning.
Sometimes when I was working on designing a site, I had these visions of greatness planned for the final product, where it would effectively shimmer with perfection, gathering dropping jaws upon its viewing, with elaborate backdrops providing perspective for the beautiful objects in the foreground, and I would think immediately of "The School of Athens" by Raphael or the old dome frescoes and great works like that. This was just for a damn site. But I could see the intricacies in those paintings and I felt like I could produce something similarly spectacular in my own work but it never came out the way that I envisioned it inside. And thus while others may have thought it was great, it was always disappointing to me. It was because of feelings like this that I felt like maybe I had a touch of greatness inside me. I get the feeling when I write, sometimes, as well, depending on my intensity level. But often when I reread what I've written, it comes off as shit written by a grade schooler. Even if it sounded like hot stuff while I was writing it. It makes me sad sometimes.
I am not depressed or anything, and I feel that I can write these things without lacking self-respect or any of that. Forget your psychobabble thoughts. But I am willing to admit my limitations after self-examination for many years. I need to come up with a better approach, I think, one tailored to the results of my findings.
I know that I am young and can adapt well to things, but I look out at life and wonder how people come to be the way they are once they get older. I wonder how much of that they could have avoided and how much of that they earned. I wonder how I get from today's point A to age 40's point B. It makes me admire older people for going through all that they have, going from point to random point in life and ending up in an altogether different and unplanned place than what they had in mind originally.
I wonder if I am destined to hit it big. I do not feel I need to hit it big though, I would like to live a comfortable life that lets me spend most of my time exploring the world and not spending most of my time getting by, day by day, like most people have to. I wonder if there is destiny at all, and if it's all about how hard you try. But what if you focus your efforts on something other than what you're really really good at? It's confusing. It's hard. It takes courage to face yourself and stare yourself in the eye and figure out what you're made of.
I know my parents will read this and wonder just what they did wrong, or if they're not doing enough, or doing too much, and all that crap. But I think they will remember that they most surely went through self-examinations many times in their lives to get where they are today. I am going through one right now. I'm trying to make something of myself. I'm trying to make myself stand out from the rest, to be unique, to be desireable and someone those around me can respect. It's a daunting task, and it is one I largely face on my own. (in mental terms, I mean...my parents have been extremely supportive) Like everyone else has to.
Don't get me wrong. I'm living nicely and I have confidence in my ability to adapt to new situations (which pays off in today's market) and if anything, my strongest drive comes in trying new things, the carelessness and vigor of youth incarnate. And I have avenues to start from, like being closer to my family and gaining more close friends, and things like that (that normal people do regularly), but hey, I need to shut up now.
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