imagrownup

by @kelsocks

Tag Archives: personal growth

You’re Rubber, I’m Glue….Bitch.

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Winston Churchill

Not to brag or anything, but I am preeeeetty good at talking shit.  It just kind of happens when you combine average intelligence with a certain level of observational skill and firsthand experience of people being sucky. This isn’t a skill I’m proud of or anything, but I used to think shittalking was fine as long as I reserved my judgments for things worthy of criticism.

Recently I had a change of attitude, but you’ll have to follow me on this train of thought. I was considering how we are only capable of processing and interpreting the outside world in terms of our own understanding of it, which is based on knowledge and experience.  We are the lens through which we view the rest of the world.

I can’t remember who I was talking (or thinking) negatively about when it hit me that  I had been upset about something I knew I, too, was guilty of on occasion.  From there I ran through a list of all the people I’d been critical of recently and the nature of what my problem was, and blammo– these were things I’d done in the past, was currently doing, or potentially might do in the future:

I was annoyed when a car cut me off in traffic.

I had been upset with a girl for bending over backwards to please a less interested guy.

I mentally rolled my eyes at someone for vaguebooking.

One of my friends was too wrapped up in her own personal drama to listen to my problems.

I laughed at a sloppy drunk chick for making a fool out of herself in public.

I railed against Americans for being lazy, fearful, self-medicating overconsumers.

And finally…

I told a friend he would get more converts to his political cause if he didn’t act like such an abrasive asshole. Ha! (If you’ve been my Facebook friend for a while you’ll understand why that’s rich.)

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of similar criticisms- big and small, justified and unjustified– that pop into our heads.  I realized that all these criticisms I was making were reflections of my own shortcomings.  I was able to adeptly rip people to shreds because I had firsthand knowledge of these flaws in myself.  This hypothesis was bolstered by looking at how the people I admire most as “genuinely good people” rarely speak ill of anyone.

I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only person for whom this phenomenon holds true.  Like Julian “I’m Perpetually Late to Gigs Because I Don’t Respect My Fans’ Time” Casablancas (sorry, it jut spills out sometimes) sings, “We’re so quick to point out our own flaws in others.” In criticizing, it’s as if we hope to distance ourselves from our own flaws.  It’s like saying “Hey, look over there! That’s where the problem is, not here” or “I couldn’t possibly be guilty of that because I obviously disapprove of such behavior.”  It’s a deflection.

Aside from just being a dick move, this behavior is problematic because when we hide from our shortcomings, we can’t fix them.  So now every time I think something critical, the next thought is “What am I really upset about? Is this actually something I don’t like about myself?”  It’s a worthwhile exercise.  Of course this doesn’t hold true for every situation (I’m not critical of seal furriers because deep down I secretly want to club baby seals to death), but it is worth exploring in your personal relationships.  Changing my pattern of thought from criticism > dismissal to criticism > red flag > self-examination has been helpful for me, maybe it can help you too.

 

**Special thanks to Mr. David Hook for his drawring skills!

Number 40 (or 40 Lessons In 40 Posts)

In celebration of my 40th disjointed post, here’s a disjointed list of 40 things I’ve learned since starting this blog (the author recommends enjoying while drinking a 40):

40- I’m going to die sooner or later so I need to hurry up and do all the awesome stuff I’ve ever wanted to do. 

39- Being physically fit will make you happier, and the inverse is just as true.   Luckily, exercise is an antidepressant that will fix part of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms.

38- Quinoa is as delicious as it is difficult to pronounce: Very.

37- Humankind is inherently good.  At least based on how everyone rushes to make way for ambulances.

36- Humankind is inherently evil.  I forgot it’s against the law to obstruct emergency vehicles, so people have to move whether they want to or not.

35- Humankind is hard to figure out.  Fuck it.

34- Making memories is widely underrated. Did making two costumes and driving 8 hours to a music fest for Halloween weekend substantially complicate my life and require a great deal of time, energy, and money to execute? Yes. Was it fun as fuck? Definitely. Studies have shown that the happiest people are those who purchase experiences instead of things, so go do stuff.

33- Those Sally Hansen stick-on nail polish strips are awesome.  They should invent a way to create custom designs. Maybe sell blank sheets of polish that people can decorate and peel off..? I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here but someone should get on this.

32- I’ll miss being forced to read books I wouldn’t normally encounter. Por ejemplo, Joseph Conrad is a pain in the ass to read but brilliant when it comes to using language and exploring existential crises and moral dilemmas.

31-  Cities are beautiful, dazzlingly complex embodiments of the best and worst of man’s accomplishments. And living in them is fun.

30- Find people you can be yourself around.  It makes everything easier.

29- Weird kids turn into awesome adults. They also have hilarious weird kid anecdotes.

28- You can gain a lot from spending time with people different than you. Like, for realz.

27- Skydiving is awesome. Do it.

26-Institutions of higher education just want your money, but you can still have a valuable learning experience if you take advantage of the opportunity.

25- Almost everyone is lonely.  Some are better at hiding it than others, and some don’t think about it because they’ve filled their time with enough people and things to distract, but everyone wants to feel connected.

24- My joints are feeble as shit, and dealing with athletic injuries is really annoying so use good form, y’all.

23- Throwing ice cream is fun. Fact.

22- Everyone deludes themselves from reality in some capacity. Whether it’s justifying past decisions, rationalizing present circumstances, only seeing what you want to see in others, self-medicating, or self-theologizing, most people prefer their own version of things to the truth.

21- Consistently generating content is hard. 

20- I need to find a reasonable income if I’m ever going to afford that great white shark cage diving trip.

19- It is important to know when to hold and/or fold ’em.  A few little risks here and there in the name of fun is one thing, but actual danger is not worth the consequences. Shark dives don’t count, they’re mostly safe, although honestly if I’m going to die I wouldn’t mind getting eaten by a shark.

18-Lachrymose is a good word.  It means tear-inducing/weepy, FYI.

17-If everyone is cool, no one is cool.  Being hip is a mass produced cultural trend, so basically everyone is average. Which is redundant.

16- There are artificial estrogen-mimicking chemicals in air fresheners.  [source] Probably to keep women in constant nesting mode buying products like more air fresheners…

15-Routines are incredibly efficient. Not having a routine is the opposite of that.

14- Nobody’s business is anybody’s business. 

13- Our generation didn’t create the fucked up world we’re inheriting, but it’s still our responsibility to make it better.

12- If hell exists, it’s probably run by towing companies.

11- Dancing is undervalued. 

10- A lot of people seem okay floating from one societal threshold to the next without worrying about why they’re doing what they’re doing.  You can get a lot out of self-reflection and evaluating your motivations.

9- Balance is the key to just about everything.  Yin and Yang had that shit down.

8- Thinking up 40 things I’ve learned recently is harder than I expected. And most of this shit sounds like clichés. But clichés are clichés for a reason so…

7- Water your friendship plants regularly.  Some are delicate violets and others are durable cacti, but it’s important to take care of them.

6- Putting creative work on display is an embarrassing but necessary evil.  I hate rereading old posts but fear of embarrassment is a too common roadblock to creation. Everybody sucks at first, you just have to keep going.

5- The War of Art is an incredibly useful book. Everyone, especially creative types, should read it.

4- Laughing is the best. More, please.

3- We naturally gravitate toward the things and people we need in order to grow. Just like plants!

2-Better to look like an idiot trying something new than to never try anything.

1- Settling is for suckers. Don’t do it!

If You Don’t Get Married You’ve Failed

To my surprise, I’ve made it to the age where a great deal of my friends and acquaintances are getting married.  While I am happy for them, I’m not happy to have simultaneously entered the realm of being asked “So when are you getting married?” every 10 minutes.

I prefer not to insert my personal information into these posts (because I think it’s both irrelevant and boring for the reader), but it’s worth noting that I have not yet made it to a quarter of a century.  Still young by most standards, I am still not immune to badgering by the married folks.

In our country, there is an extreme emphasis on the importance of the institution of marriage.  It’s considered so important that two men or two women in a committed relationship are largely still treated as inferior to a heterosexual couple (Granted, the government shouldn’t have anything to do with marriage, a church institution, in the first place, but I digress…)  Americans love marriage.  Just look at the cover of any magazine. Or any show on TLC, Oxygen, or even ABC for that matter.

While I am certainly not opposed to marriage, I find it startling that getting married is considered the be-all, end-all of what a person, especially a female, can accomplish in life.  Landing a man is placed at the top of all priorities, and failure to do so is absolutely shameful.

But what about a career? What about growing up as an individual and being self-sufficient?  The emphasis on getting married, and specifically the wedding day, has caused millions of women to focus on short term happiness instead of working toward life goals, growth, ambition, and personal fulfillment.  Divorce rates have risen drastically in the past few decades.  Could it be that women, while enjoying new liberties in society and the workplace, no longer find satisfaction playing the doting housewife for more than a few years?  Maybe the rush to get married means picking a less-suitable partner which leads to inevitable dissatisfaction.

To conclude, married people– cool it.  It’s not the 1950’s anymore.  Just because you’re married does not give you permission to pass judgment on those who have chosen different routes in life.  Perhaps other people disagree with your set of values and wish to pursue other avenues in their life before settling down. Not being married does not equate to a failed attempt to get married, but rather it can frequently be a deliberate decision not to do so.  So check yourself before you hassle your single friends– because, honestly, you might not want to hear their real answers to “So when are you getting married?”