Saturday, January 23, 2010

Existential Crisis

Recently been having a mild character dilemma.

On one side, there are the "You're too nice" people. And on the other, the "You're such an asshole" people.

Both make really good points. However, I'm not so good at balancing-acts, or flip-flopping from personality to personality. Since I can't very well be both things -- at least, not at the same time -- the question is: what I am, really?

Some days I listen a lot more than I talk, enjoying the sound of a person's voice, skimming the streams of words coming out of their mouth like a rock across a pond. When you're as intellectually fast-paced as I, conversation isn't all that hard to do, even when you're not exactly paying attention. I can be "deep" and not even be really listening! I can "make good points" without the necessity of thinking extensively about what the person just said. Call me arrogant, but most of the time what people are saying isn't all that difficult to comprehend. And besides, most of what they're really saying isn't even spoken -- it's all about the nonverbal. (Which comprises, what? 90% of communication?)

Some days I prefer to rant, rave, even lecture on the various topics that have been floating around inside my head like so many angry butterflies. Back in the day, I used to talk so fast people couldn't understand me, and sometimes I would actually silently mouth my own words after I'd already said them, just because my lips couldn't keep up with my thoughts! Now, I've learned to think more before I speak. I've learned to... contemplate. I've learned to ponder and wonder and all sorts of reflection. It helps when the things I say can be beyond insightful, especially since I tend towards blunt honesty nearly becoming brutal truth. (Again, that arrogance of mine.) But all that slow-paced communication can get tiresome, especially when my mind just wants to vocally wander. I was made to be quicksilver, not molasses.

And then there are some days where I do both. Where I listen a lot, and then talk a lot. It's not so much a balance as a moderation. A careful indulgence in both aspects of my behavior. A balance implies difficulty, implies extremes. I'm not extreme -- though I am intense. It's not difficult to be me, but I have noticed that it pays to be cautious, because the "real me" isn't all that personable with your everyday civilian.

As an artist, I, by necessity, must be one-step out of time with the world. Look things off-kilter. I need to be alternative, because that's where the art comes from... from all that randomness. My style isn't what you'd expect, and even those who have known me for a long time are still surprised by the things I tell them, show them about myself.

Yet, the ones who know me best call me "a nice guy" while the ones who know me fleetingly call me "an asshole douchebag". (I say "fleetingly" because while they do know me on some deepish level, they never get the whole picture. They only got through one face of my multifaceted self.) Complex. Prismatic. I am most definitely not that easy to figure out, yet my actions are honest and simple. I am who I present myself as, only most people do not understand that. (Which is okay. Most geniuses are never understood in their lifetimes, so it's said. Even Einstein wasn't really appreciated till his hair was so white and spiky he looked like an aging punk-rocker.

Also, I know you still haven't missed that arrogance. Sorry, but false modesty was never my strong suit. I know what I am, and what other people see me as. A lot of the time that happens to be quite impressive stuff. As one ex-intimate said, "you know, you're quite a catch.")

Maybe I'm nice because I defend the ones I care about? Or is it because I do my best to help them? Somehow, the blunt to brutal honesty is lost among all my attempts at being a good friend -- or lover. Somehow, all my arrogance or sarcasm, my calling-on-bullshit, and my intolerance for ignorance or meanness seems to go unnoticed by them.

But give me an acquaintance who's only seen me in a certain sense, and they'll assume right quick I am the biggest piece of shit ever. I've had some girls call me a jerk like no other, even writing silly blog-posts about why I suck. A few guys have looked at me like some rival, or competition for girls and other objectified pursuits. They see me from only one angle, and never notice my other sides.

It's sad, and there was a time when I let each person who didn't like me bring me down. Nowadays, I am much less pathetic (although still fairly pathetic, by my standards), ignoring haters, judgers, and downers. I live as much as I can each and every day, which leaves little room for their kind of drama. I've realized you can't change the world, you can only change yourself, and by doing so maybe the world will change with you. If it doesn't then so it goes.

Back to my quandary. Is it possible to be too nice and still be considered too mean? Sometimes, I'm not sure if these opinions of my character really reflect who I am even slightly, or if they're just the misconceptions of people who are still in the beginner's stages of self-actualization.

Maybe the problem isn't that I'm "too this" or "too that" but that I am in mostly-perfect moderation with my life, and everyone else is still having trouble keeping up? It certainly seems that way from the faults & failures that I've observed in people, even close friends or significant-others.

Maybe the problem isn't me, but other people? It seems lame to say that, and total hubris, and yet... what else is there?

Guess I've just been feeling down because when enough people start saying something about you, it's hard not to believe it, no matter how confident you are. And it seems even worse when the things you prize most in yourself, you see not at all in others... even those you care deeply about.

So it goes.

8 footnotes:

Yoira said...

We are as complex as our actions, which is why they can sometimes contrast with each other. The fact that friends can call me "too anything" only reaffirms that some people haven't fully achieved self-actualization. Knowing this makes me feel like I'm moving too fast for everyone else. :(

On that note, I'm glad to see you're still blogging! :) After I left Captainsassypanties (Woah! I never realize how ridiculous that title was) I've been out of it for a while.

Anonymous said...

I like this post.

I wouldn't call you "too nice" (except maybe in jest), but I would call you "nice", since you tolerate people's sh*t way longer than I would. But I bet even Satan is nicer than I am on occasion. :-P

I'm surprised (well, not really) at "too mean". Maybe I'd need an example of something "mean" you did to get it, but you know I'm a fan of telling people about themselves, even if the truth hurts.

I know what it's like to really care what other people think of you, but don't let the haters get you down! I used to think that most people with criticism actually had my best interests at heart, in a "tough love" kind of way (silly me), and I learned the hard way that they were just about bringing me down.

On a lighter note, I did a couple of "Jersey Shore" fist pumps at this: "You know, you're quite a catch." :-P

Zek J Evets said...

@yoira: thanks! yeah, i'll probably never stop blogging... at least not for a while.

but you should get back to it! don't even write a bunch -- just post interesting pictures.

@jasmin: haha, fist pumps, huh?

the "tough love" approach is a fine line to walk when it's contrasted with "haters bringing you down". a step to either side ends up making you ineffectual... or an asshole.

but so it goes. i won't be brought down; don't worry =)

Anonymous said...

i recently started a new one. :)

reality said...


The DSM-IV defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as indicated by the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

3. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

4. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

5. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

6. Believes others are envious of him or her

Seriously, look into it.

Zek J Evets said...

@fantasy: while it's kind of you to diagnose someone you don't know very well with a psychological disorder, it might come off a little ignorant and childish.

but that's okay! i'm sure you didn't mean it like that at all, because why would someone take the time to go out of their way to anonymously insult someone they hardly know? i mean, surely you've got better things to do...

so, yeah. no worries. keep up the comments! (but maybe wait till after sixth period. high school teachers can be snooty about kids not paying attention in class.)

tuleep said...

I don't know if this is stating the obvious or not, but I think it's society that makes us freak out about "who we are." Society, or the people around you, or the people in your life (whatever you wanna call it) often feel the need to classify and categorize. It's human. There's even a word for it I think but I can't remember what it is; we have to make sense out of chaos. That's why we always see pictures in the clouds instead of just...clouds.

People will always give you one dimensional opinions about you, but it's when you take all those singular surface opinions and put them together over time that you get a person: complex, multidimensional and always changing to some degree. All people are made up of conflicting traits and thoughts at the same time. The opposites and categories are just our way of making sense of things.

Zek J Evets said...

@tuleep: haha, yes you're stating the obvious -- but that's important too. (and much appreciated.)

i just don't like being defined from the outside.