Stepping Back

Self-knowledge is an elusive beast.

By nature I’m an introvert. I don’t want to be the centre of attention, and I don’t like conflict.

Unfortunately, I’m also someone who tends to analyse stuff. I take things apart, try to figure out how they work, and to solve problems. Whether or not I really ought to doesn’t seem to matter - it just happens. Look, here I go, doing it again.

Doing that tends to leave me with opinions. That’s the first mistake. Having opinions - a dangerous business.

I’m also an idealist. A deeply cynical one, admittedly (and there’s a recipe for misery, if ever there was one), but an idealist nevertheless. This means that I tend to care about things. That, I think you’ll agree, is my second mistake. Schoolboy error in fact.

This combination turns out to be fairly deadly: strong opinions, which you want to voice, because you give a shit.

There’s one final component though, which is the icing on the cake: ego.

It wouldn’t matter if nobody listened, or if I didn’t care who listened. Or, I guess, it wouldn’t matter if everybody listened, and agreed.

Life doesn’t work like that, of course. Enough people listen to give you the illusion that you’re not a total idiot. Enough to make you think that you could, maybe even should, work alongside them to Get Things Done™.

The problem is, of course, that they give a shit and have opinions too - which turn out to be different from yours, sometimes.

“Sometimes” is fine, but there’s a hazy area where “sometimes” becomes “often” becomes “most of the time” becomes “always”. Moving along this line can go a few ways, most of which are not good. Loss of self-confidence. Imposter syndrome. Frustration. Stress. A ton of negative crap which is really counter-productive.

Or maybe you just end up in a pointless pissing contest with someone. Harmless, perhaps, but annoying for everyone caught in the crossfire, and a massive waste of energy.

I wish I was a humbler person, I really do, and could avoid these situations or let them wash over me. Or even that I was a more dominant person, who could just steamroller through the objections and impose my will (no, really, everything would be fine, honest - what could possibly go wrong?).

Unfortunately I’m neither. I’m arrogant enough to care, insecure enough for it to hurt, introverted enough to find it exhausting to deal with.

I’m not talking about a single situation here, by the way. If you’re reading this and thinking you know which specific thing I’m alluding to - you don’t. This is definitely a repeating pattern in my life.

I haven’t figured out the solution, but my current strategy for dealing with it is simple: stepping away. Removing the source of stress and negativity, and finding something else to do with my time.

I’m not sure if this is wisdom, cowardice, or pragmatic self-preservation.

It’s probably not the ultimate answer, but it feels necessary right now.