Monday, July 30, 2012

The Lost Years

I recently realized I do not have any photographs of myself between the year 2000 and 2007. Between people helping themselves to my prints and me changing laptops several times and losing data thanks to viruses even the digital record of my existence in those years is very sparse. Pictures are a great way of documenting one's life and are great for remembering what one was thinking or feeling at a certain point. While I do not really have much of a pictorial record I did find my "big green forever book" which is kind of scrap book I've kept since I was 14 years old and in which I have been recording the contents of my mind and the things that interest me over the years. The Lost Years is a timeline in which I have selected some of my writings from the big green forever book. I may not have visual evidence of what I was doing, with whom and what I looked like during those years but it does give a glimpse of what I was thinking about around and during my coming of age.

Photo credit:  CSU-Pueblo Today

Friday, July 6, 2012

Always you wrestle inside me...

Life. Gotta love it.  You've just got to. Like when it gives you a taste for certain things and then proceeds not to equip you with the tools you require to enjoy them fully and abundantly. Do you know what I mean? It gives you the kind of hapless personality in which you have an insatiable affinity for certain things but throws in an aversion to the manner in which those things are acquired. And you're always aware of the tension, always aware of your weakness and you are always confronted with choices. Overcome this cognitive dissonance or watch the these things pass you by and spend your life in a state of inertia and dissatisfaction. Yep. Gotta love it. Always throwing illogical curve balls at you just so you don't just cruise through feeling like a million bucks, so you're always feeling a little bit on edge, a little off balance and so you don't get comfortable and arrogant. Life. It keeps you humble. And in awe. And grateful.

So life has given me a penchant for human beings, a deep interest in their welfare and a desire to know their stories, to give them a voice and a space to be heard and seen. I get a kick out of discovering the stories of strangers, my natural inclination is to recognize people and help them know that they matter and are worthy. The things they have experienced, what they want and need and who they are matter. I love that. Here's the problem. I am an introvert. I have a rich and solid inner life that energizes me and I'm largely put off by large-scale social interactions, my definition of large-scale being anything involving more than two people. But in a world that idealizes extroversion this is seen as a weakness of some sort, a thing to be overcome. So I struggle on many fronts. On the one front I genuinely care about people and I am apparently a decent listener and good to be around; but I find it draining to spend time with people and often feel a sense of having lost something when I over socialize (by my standards) so that battle rages constantly. On another front I reject the societal notion that everyone should be an "out there" people person, that group brainstorming is the best way to foster ideas and creativity and that extroverts make good leaders. I reject  "group think". It's not for me. I think teams only work when people have clear cut roles and responsibilities and are given space to just run with them. I think when everyone is supposed to think with a collective brain we miss out on the potential that is sequestered in individual brains afraid of disrupting "group dynamics." But this is the world I live in and I want to move ahead in it so many times I fake extroversion. I can get away with it too because I'm high in empathy and I'm good at reading people. 

So I am a system in dynamic equilibrium, a pendulum oscillating to and fro. The original me is Version 1.0 and the extrovert is Version 1.1. Whenever V 1.0 loses and I force myself (kicking and screaming) out of my head and actually give people my attention I am surprisingly good at teasing out the thing about them that makes them special. And I'm often glad I did. Because the stories I've discovered are astounding and inspiring. V 1.1 is emotionally responsive and fun to be around. She is good at winning people over. Be that as it may it still feels like I'm stabbing myself in the back when I let her take over and sideline the needs of V1.0. While I appreciate her usefulness, I have a stronger affinity for V 1.0 who is an eccentric and deep, analytical thinker who works with machine-like efficiency and a fair bit of creativity when left undisturbed. She is a very interesting character and is probably the only reason why anyone's even remotely interested in getting to know V 1.1. 

And so it goes on. I live on a precipice, a tug of war raging with no end in sight. Sigh...

"Always you wrestle inside me; always you will..."