04 April 2011

I Am Who, Revisited

I hope everyone got a kick out of Friday's Funnyquote: it was an April Fools' special!  Please know that there's no way I actually take anything Mr. Sheen has to say seriously, any more than the media does.  Although I guess I don't have to worry too much, since I think the page received exactly one pageview all weekend.

I'm constantly astounded to discover how little I know about life – as I've mentioned before on this blog, that very idea goes against every natural inclination of my personality.  And if I can be allowed to qualify that statement, I don't believe that my assuming nature is borne out of misplaced pride or arrogance, but more of a steely self-confidence that serves to promote my ability to read people and complex social situations, deal with hardship and letdowns, and even compensate for my fears of being perceived as either too bold and overbearing or as too meek and wimpy.  What I've come to find is that a major part of maturity is discovering that the things we place so much import on don't really matter all that much.  Things like other people's opinions of oneself and the value of one's social contributions.  Things like social status and income levels, they don't affect our long-term happiness.  Of course I have long tried to live my life to reflect these beliefs, but much like Spring cleaning in the attic, every now and then I stumble across a long-lost gem when clearing through the cobwebs of my previous life lessons.  And that's the inspiration for this post.

My high school English teacher was my favorite academic and source of culture in backwater Hiawassee.  And one of her staple assignments that went to all graduating 12th graders was the production of a memory book that served as part creative writing outlet and part nostalgic memento.  I took full advantage of the open-ended nature of the writing topics in concert with my teacher's broad sense of humor for the first writing piece, entitled simply, "Who am I?"  I prefaced my responses with the explanation that I had long ago learned that the accomplished essayist was to answer his debater's questions with a restatement of the question.  So I complied, saying things like, "Who am I?  I am who knows 100 decimal places of pi but doesn't quite understand how a checking account works."  And with a little wit and introspection attached, I figured it was time for another go at it.

So without further ado, Who am I?

  • I am who wears his heart on his sleeve, all day, every day.
  • I am who has been told I have a Messiah complex.  Maybe so, but I'm more worried about that guy who said so and his inability to come up with less impertinent names for social maladies.
  • I am who is a little less certain than I was yesterday.
  • I am who can't formulate anything apart from a functional argument against the Multiverse theory in a question of practical application and its effect on my emotional expectations.
  • I am who in recent memory had a legitimate, life-altering existential crisis.  At first glance I guess I wasn't really expecting that to be on this list so soon.
  • I am who has been told I like to hear myself talk.  Let me tell you about that.
  • I am who habitually looks for hidden significance in numbers, but claims no superstitions. (For example, there are 13 items on this list!)
  • I am who still cares a great deal about what others think, in spite of whatever I may say.
  • I am who is occasionally astounded at just how lazy I can be.
  • I am who can't stomach profound assurances of future performance based solely on previous trends, and yet amidst difficult situations fear foremost that change for the better is impossible.
  • I am who will be the most pleasantly surprised if anything substantially positive for the peoples of St. Kitts comes out of my service in the Peace Corps.
  • I am who never really bought into the phrase, "It's the simple pleasures..."
  • I am who once expected the world of me, but now... I'm not so sure.

But the unanswered question still lingers.  Is this new watered-down perspective the key to happiness, or will my unfulfilled idealistic goals haunt me?  Is 'good enough'... ever really good enough?  Will 'settling for less' prove to be exactly that?

Maybe I still have some growing up to do.

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