Living with Anti-social Tendencies

For many, it is a mystery why there is a portion of the population who just doesn’t like to be around other people. Human beings are social animals by default, and when we are alone for extended periods of time it tends to have negative effects on our mental state. Most people can’t bear solitude for very long, requiring regular contact with others in both physical and social contexts. We are a highly gregarious species, much like a single living organism that needs the other parts to live a healthy life.

For people like me, however, the situation is very different. Unlike most people who become recharged when they spend time around other people, the act of engaging in social activities is far more like work than pleasure for someone who struggles with anti-social tendencies. The anxiety that comes with having to spend time with people who have expectations that you might not be able to meet, or simply the fact that you have to behave in a certain way to accommodate the basic social contract requires more effort for some than others.

The phrase “no man is an island” is often used to encapsulate the idea that we all need each other in one way or another. While quite true, some people take this too far in an attempt to apply their own view of how people should behave onto others. I was many times guilted into participating in social events that I really didn’t have any desire for because I was made to feel selfish for not wanting to go through the inevitable discomfort that being around other people tends to cause me.

To be fair, there are certain social situations for which I have little or no anxiety that are quite social, so it really depends on the specific circumstances. For example, I never felt anxious when I was with a group of friends participating in a game of Dungeons and Dragons because my focus was on the epic story and playing a character rather than the social expectations of those around me. We all had a singular, common goal which was to participate in a fantasy adventure. The potential for awkward social issues was very low in such situations.

Perhaps the most dreaded event I can be asked to attend is a party or celebration. In the first place, I’m one of those people who never felt comfortable enough with my body to learn to dance, and no matter how many times people have tried to get me to put myself on display that way I have never been willing to even try. I don’t like feeling awkward; I need to be in control. Dancing is almost by definition the release of control to let your body do whatever. It is abhorrent to me.

Upon reflection I begin to realize that anti-social behavior, for me at least, is largely based on this need for control. When you are by yourself, you have nearly complete control over your environment and you never have to worry about what anyone else thinks of you. The moment you enter into a space with other people, you have given up a significant portion of your control and you are now negotiating for how much of it you get to keep with those you are spending your time with. For a person who likes order and discipline, this is a frustrating situation.

At the same time, no person can be alone all the time and be mentally healthy. We all need human interaction in our lives, even if it’s only a few hours a week. This requires being willing to give up our control for a while so we can get that much needed social recharge that even the most anti-social of us require. It simply needs to be understood that this comes at a cost for us, and people shouldn’t take it personally when we yearn to go back to our solitude. It isn’t you specifically, just our need to get back to the peace and control of our preferred environment.

I stated once before that the real difference between an extrovert and an introvert is the flow of energy when it comes to social situations, and I’ll repeat it here for those of you who might not have read that particular article. An extrovert draws energy from social interactions; a party is a place where they go to recharge their energy and fill up their spiritual cup. The introvert, on the other hand, expends energy in these kinds of exchanges, the people around them soaking up their energy, and it is only when they are able to get back to peace and solitude that they are able to fill up their respective reservoirs.

One of the hardest things to do is really learn something about yourself and come to accept it. While it would be nice for me to be able to waltz into a party and be the center of attention, that just isn’t me and it never will be. I’m the guy who hangs back by the bar, trying to minimize how many people I have to talk to and just waiting to get back to my nice, quiet place. While many will not understand that way of thinking, I’ve accepted it about myself and if this way applies to you then you should to. Never be afraid to be who you are; the only expectations that matter are your own.

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Finding Your Creative Spark

As a fairly new writer of regular online content, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with things to talk about. I am a naturally solitary person, preferring not to waste a lot of time talking about unnecessary things and putting as focus as possible on doing things that I find fulfilling, or at least entertaining. My hyper focus on basically not being bored soaks up a lot of my attention and leaves me with little in the way of what we typically call the “creative spark”. For a writer, this is a critical part of coming up with engaging content that people want to read.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll already know that this is a problem for me. While I have thus far been able to push myself into keeping up with a regular posting schedule, this is mostly because I keep my writing in line with the way I think: short and to the point. Most bloggers are going for word count, and this is important for maximizing your exposure due to the way that modern search engine algorithms work, but I’m simply not able to bring myself to submit to that way of writing. When I have a point, I just want to make it in the clearest possible way I can. Wasting your or my time expanding on a subject that we already understand keeps us from moving on with our day.

On the other side of things, however, is the other forms of creative writing I would like to get into. I believe I mentioned in the past that I wrote a full length novel, which was placed in a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. While I was able to get the book completed and I even self-published it on Amazon, it is the only major writing work I’ve been able to get completed. I have outlines for two additional books to complete the story, but the urge that propelled the first book into completion simply hasn’t extended to the rest of the story. The motivation just isn’t there.

This has been the status of the work for a couple of years now, and isn’t really the reason I’m writing this today. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a new idea for a story I think would be very interesting to read, and a part of me feels excited to start over with a new work. However, I find that when I really start to think about sitting down to write it, I am unable to summon that creative energy I had when I sat down to write the first book. This is a wall that every author has to climb over each time they have an inspiration for a new novel, but for me the situation is a little bit different.

A good writer has the ability to pull readers into whatever it is that they’re putting to paper. When you read their work, you are pulled in a very natural way into whatever subject it is that they are writing about. Each writer has their own voice and approach to conveying information, and deviating from that rarely results in a work that people enjoy reading. For a work to be truly interesting and engaging, it has to conform to the way the author can write in a natural way. Anything else will come across as stale or fake or any other number of negative adjectives.

For myself, I have always enjoyed fantasy adventure novels because they take me to amazing places I’ll never see in my real life. It is the seed for my current desire to get out of the normal daily grind and go see some of the world. I grew up on adventures and I’m ready for my own. These are the kinds of things that inspire some of my more interesting writing ideas, and because I identify so heavily with the genre it seems natural at first for me to want to sit down and write stories in that same vein.

The problem arises when I start to realize that my writing style and creative energy simply isn’t compatible with that kind of story. I’m great at coming up with interesting ideas and fleshing out the mechanics of a story. In my youth I was a fairly prolific Dungeon Master, leading my friends through epic adventures in the supremely popular Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game. It’s one thing to tell a story from such a high level and allow others to develop the story; it’s quite another to actually do it yourself.

One of the critical parts to creating a successful work of fiction is understanding how to reach people on a personal level with your characters. No matter how interesting the world or storyline or major events in your story might be, if your characters aren’t relatable then you will be unable to gain any serious attention from your readers. Epic battles lose much of their intensity when you don’t really care if the participants live or die, and few people will find interest in a romance between two very underdeveloped and boring characters. No matter how creative you might be in other areas, if you can’t pull it all together with a genuine sense of emotion you will be unable to make the story work.

This is where I find myself in my writing. Like many things in my life, I have a firm grasp on the technical aspects of writing and I’m fairly creative when it comes to thematic ideas and coming up with an interesting arc for a story. The problem arises when it comes time to actually get down to the gritty details of developing characters and making them genuine. As a fairly anti-social person, I don’t have the emotional experiences required to convey the kinds of things that make adventure novels truly interesting to read.

Perhaps the hardest thing a person can do is learn to accept his limitations. While I would love to become like the great fantasy writers I grew up admiring, the truth is that I just don’t have the abilities required to make it happen. Just because one wants to become an actor or singer or other such thing doesn’t mean they have the basic minimum requirements to be successful in that venture. In the end, there are simply doors that are closed to us based on our talents and abilities. Sometimes you can break through those doors and even find the success you crave, but the sad truth is that most people end up just wasting their lives pursuing things that were never meant to be.

One of the great things I’ve learned about myself is that I am very self aware and I know and understand where my strengths are. Although I enjoy writing, it is important for me to remember that my talents lie not in creating fantastic adventures but in conveying complex information in a way that is easy to understand. My gift is the ability to teach others. This is the reason why I have been able to keep up with writing so many posts on this blog; the complex topics covered here are difficult to understand without being broken down in certain ways, and I have the ability to do that. Thus I have come to accept that I need to confine my writing to those things that mesh well with the way my mind works.

Too many people go on and on about following your dreams, but sometimes the dream you have isn’t the dream that really works for you. It’s nice to fantasize about being someone other than who you are, but it’s a dubious proposition to believe that you’ll be truly happy living a life that isn’t really you. Being creative doesn’t mean fitting yourself into the image of someone else; by definition it’s the exact opposite of that. Learn who you are and figure out what works for you, and then build your dreams based on that. Chasing the dreams of others rarely works in your favor.

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Modern Love is a Lie

It’s a well known statistic in certain circles that more than half of marriages end in failure, and of those more than eighty percent of the divorces are initiated by women. If you are at all familiar with this particular line of thought, then you recognize it as part of the “red pill” mantra, or “men going their own way”, or the “manosphere”. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to much of what is said in this area of modern philosophy, I do agree with the idea that, in our modern era of convenience and fantasy, most of us have highly unrealistic expectations of what it is to be in a relationship.

The industries centered around artistic expression have always conflated the idea of love with infatuation, doing its best to convince us that the only form of true love is the one where both people throw themselves at each other completely and forsake everything else. This is a nice little fiction, but cold hard reality has little patience for such ridiculous ideas. Those kinds of feelings might last for a while, even a couple of years, but eventually reality rears its ugly head and people are forced to really look at each other. This is where the relational “rubber meets the road”.

What most people today don’t understand is that a successful relationship has little or nothing to do with how you feel. Most times our feelings are what get in the way of making a good relationship last. Those feelings of missing something are inevitably what cause one person to decide they would be better off on their own, or even better finding someone new to fulfill the desires their current partner isn’t satisfying. It is a short-sighted viewpoint that hurts not only them, but the people who have invested in them.

This is where people today, especially women, tend to blow things up. They have been sold this fantasy that a relationship is supposed to be passion or affection or being made to feel “special”. Those things are nice to have, but if we’re going to be brutally honest they simply have no business as a primary part of a good, long term relationship. As we’ve seen in the last several decades, our fixation on chasing a feeling has done little but ruin our chances at a life with someone. It’s great at starting a relationship, but tends to get in the way later on.

It is quite rare to meet someone you truly “click with”, and when you find someone like that it is highly advisable to keep that person close. When it is someone of the opposite sex, you have met a potential spouse; a best friend with similar goals and interests that you want to start building a life with. You come to a mutual understanding that the energy you would otherwise be spending on finding a mate will now be redirected toward getting the both of you to a mutually agreed destination. This is the true purpose of something like marriage.

I’ve heard it said many times that we always see the couple go off to live happily ever after, but no movie ever comes back to show them twenty years and several kids later. The disservice this causes in our society is this idea that the person we end up with is the same person we will have throughout the rest of our lives. This is a lie. As much as we don’t like to believe it, everyone changes over time as life slowly alters our perceptions and habits. Sometimes it’s a few small changes; sometimes it might be drastic, life altering changes. Sometimes it’s for the better; other times it’s for the worse. Regardless, the person you met in your twenties or thirties is unlikely to be the person you have to live with through your sixties and seventies.

Too many people today base their relationships on how they feel rather than realizing what they really get out of this mutual agreement to be with someone else. All they see are the negatives that come with unfulfilled desires, not the positives that come with having someone there to support them through the hard times. The mundane details of combined resources propelling them toward a common goal get lost in the mists of failed dreams or the disappointment that the person isn’t going to live up to what they hoped for. Anything positive gets drowned out under the pall of unreasonable expectations.

In the end, until people return to seeing relationships as a social contract rather than an outlet for passion, the general dissatisfaction will continue to be prevalent. People need to stop worrying about these things that don’t really matter and start paying more attention to the things that actually work. Passion fades and romance loses its charm eventually, and once that happens you have to have something more solid upon which to lay the foundation of your relationship. It’s all in where you place your focus.

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A Brave New “Detail-oriented” World

I struggle with the small things. My brain tends to focus much more on the big picture or overall plans rather than all of the little things that go into make something happen. There just isn’t enough patience in me to get proactive about details, yet somehow I’ve always been stuck in jobs that require a great deal of attention to them. Administration is almost completely dependent on being detail-oriented, and yet it is something I have always struggled with in both my personal and professional lives.

Fortunately, I am also one of those people who is able to think quickly on his feet and react to things in such a way that it looks like I was always on top of things from the beginning. I am typically able to do the work of two or three people, partly because I’m just very fast at getting things done, and partly because my anti-social tendencies prevents me from wasting large amounts of time conversing with others rather than getting my work done. My goal for each and every work day is to make sure that there is no reason for anyone to ask me to stay past the prescribed end of business.

As with many of my articles, my inspiration for writing this has to do with something that happened to me today. I was lucky in that it was discovered in a way that will likely prevent a ridiculous amount of inconvenience, but it’s also another example of how not checking into the details of things comes around to bite me on occasion. It’s amazing how close I always come to some kind of minor disaster, only to have some sort of saving grace stave off bad things at the last moment.

I own a very powerful sport bike which I occasionally ride to work. Recent life circumstances have prevented me from really partaking in that activity, so I decided to ride into work today. Having many years of experience with motorcycles, I knew there were some regular maintenance items I needed to take care of after not having ridden it for a while. I checked the tire pressures and cleaned the chain and generally looked the bike over for anything out of the ordinary.

Of course, like many things that require catching a lot of details, I missed one of the more important things that is actually much easier to do on my bike than on many because it actually has a built in meter for it: the battery. Like so many times before, I simply got up this morning, started the bike and rode off to work. Nothing unusual at all for the entire ride, and it was even a pleasant temperature for the safety gear I was wearing.

I got into work and was coasting in neutral to get ready to park my bike and all of a sudden the engine turned off. That’s weird, I thought. With so much experience riding and working on bikes, my immediate thought was the battery since bikes don’t have the same kind of charging system that cars do and when the battery dies many times the bike won’t run. Like I said, the bike has a built in voltmeter so I switched over to it and confirmed it: 10.5 volts. A fully charged battery sits at around 12.3.

My first thought after that was the fear that maybe the charging system was not working and that I would end up having to replace it, but I started the bike again and verified that charging voltage: 14.3. That was awesome because it means I likely just need a new battery. Even better, it might just mean that the battery was just drained down too far after sitting for so long without any charging, and maybe I can get away with just riding it a few times to get it back to normal. Either way, it’s a simple fix that isn’t exorbitantly expensive and not too much of a pain to do myself.

The point of the story is partly to share my experience, but also to point out that many of the things in our lives end up happening to us because we just don’t pay attention to the little details. That situation could have ended up being far more inconvenient, or even dangerous, if my bike decided to turn off in the middle of the freeway and just wouldn’t start anymore. A risk that could have been completely mitigated if I was just a bit more attentive to the small stuff.

Unfortunately, this is how it is in most of the things in my life. Little details missed that end up causing me more headache later on than if I just caught it in the first place. I’m not sure what it is about me that prevents me from being able to slow down and really focus on details, but it is a constant challenge. I truly believe that it is only my time in the Marine Corps that allows me to function well in the various things I have to do. You can’t get away without at least a minimum level of attention to detail in that environment, so I think maybe that’s what balances me out.

I guess you can’t have everything…

What do you think about dealing with details? Are you the one everyone looks to when there’s something complicated to get done? Or do you struggle with just getting through a set of instructions? We are each uniquely different, and it’s ok if there are things we struggle with. This is why it’s important to have people in your life who are good at doing the things that you aren’t. No one can do it all on their own, and even if we are sometimes forced to do things we’re not good at we can lean on others to help us get through it.

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Great Expectations…and Being Ok With Not Meeting Them

The world today is full of idealists. Most people have a grand idea of how they want their lives to turn out and a vague plan on how to get there, but very few of us end up living out the dreams of our youth. It is a mathematical truth that in a world of finite resources where competition determines who gets what, a select few will get most of what is available and the rest will have to fight over what’s left. This is true in just about any way you could think to apply it, from careers to material possessions and even to relationships.

We all have some idea of what the ideal mate is for us. The reasons why we prefer one type of person over another are varied and complex, some of it having to do with how we were raised, other parts of it simply being what we were exposed to over the course of our lives. Whatever you’re attracted to, though parts of it may fall into generalized categories, it is unique to you. No one can tell you what you want more than you can, and only you can decide if someone lives up to those expectations.

Still, it’s important to remember the proverbial rule number one when it comes to the distribution of available resources: sometimes you have to settle for what you can get. This definitely rubs us the wrong way when we think about it, because especially for the last few generations we’ve been told we can be anything we want to be and have anything we want to have. This is a pretty unrealistic fantasy if we remember that when there’s only so much to go around, some people aren’t going to get what they want.

Where this is important for today’s topic is that most people today have unrealistic expectations of what they think they can get out of a relationship. Men want objects to be used at their discretion, and women seem to want a very small pool of “exceptional” men that they all end up competing for. Neither side ends up happy because everyone shoots for the moon and simply isn’t willing to settle. It doesn’t matter if they have a good thing right now; their expectations aren’t met, so if something that looks better comes along it’s out with the old and in with the new.

This is a disastrous philosophy for large groups of people to have. No one can seem to be content with finding an acceptable outcome and then living with it. There has to be something better, something more exciting on the horizon. If whoever you’re with right now can’t provide it, then sticking around just doesn’t make sense. This selfish attitude results in the highest divorce rate in American history.

Of course, if you are unable to accept your circumstances but still believe in the idea that relationships are necessary, you might stay in your relationship and just stick to being unhappy. This isn’t particularly ideal because it just makes both parties miserable and just prolongs the pain until one side finally decides to end it. The result is the same as the selfish approach, it just wastes a great deal more time.

There is another option available to us, but it is probably the most difficult and most counterintuitive: we can accept the flaws of others and truly learn to live with them. In a society that is all about “me first”, this is asking quite a lot, but realistically it’s the only way long term relationships can work. Neither person is ever going to be what the other wants them to be, so a successful marriage or long term partnership or whatever you choose to engage in will ultimately depend on being willing to accept what the person you choose is able to give you. If you can’t, you shouldn’t be making a lifelong promise to them.

What do you think about relationship expectations? Have we reached the point where happy marriages are near impossible? Are you in a long term relationship with someone who isn’t content with you? Or are you the one struggling to live with a person who doesn’t fulfill your “needs”? In the end, happiness is much like love in that it is ultimately a choice. If you choose to be content, then it can be so. Otherwise you spend your whole life searching for the perfection that simply doesn’t exist.

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Men vs. Women: Emotional Stress

Men are from Mars; women are from Venus. At least, that’s how the popular saying goes and sometimes I begin to wonder if it isn’t true. We have so much in common with each other because of our human nature, but the minute differences in the biology and societal expectations of the genders causes so much confusion and stress between us. If one is particularly good at navigating these sorts of issues, they can avoid many of the pitfalls that come with engaging with the opposite sex. For the rest of us, it is a struggle.

As a man, I struggle to cope with the many variables that come out of a relationship with a woman. Men in general don’t really deal much in emotions, preferring to base their lives and plans and just about anything else on cold, logical thought. We obviously have feelings and they come out on a semi-regular basis, but when it comes to what we’re going to do and how we’re going to approach it, the answer almost exclusively depends on what makes the most sense. Practicality is the average man’s bread and butter.

On the other hand, women tend to move their way through the world based on how they feel. The answer to their problems could be right there staring them in the face, but they’re just incapable of seeing it because the veil of heightened emotion is obscuring their vision. A woman’s world is one of heart, relationships being only slightly less important than basic necessities like food or water or air. The roiling ocean of emotions that is the woman’s heart rules her decisions, and most of the time only chaos can ensue from it.

Men have the ability to calm those turbulent waters if they can learn the process, but it is a difficult skill to acquire. As primarily task or goal driven creatures, it is quite unnatural for us to navigate the treacherous seas of the female heart. Regardless of our intentions, we will most of the time come off as being cold and uncaring. This obviously isn’t true, but perception is reality when it comes to a woman. If she decides you don’t care, then from her standpoint you simply don’t.

Some men are better at dealing with all of this than others, but I certainly don’t fall into this category. I fall toward the more cold and logical end of the spectrum, even for a man. My emotions don’t typically get wrapped up the way that many people do, and because of this I struggle with empathy. My sentiment tends to be something like “here’s your solution; stop whining and figure it out”. Most men tend to think this way, but many have the patience not to act it out, preferring to just subjugate themselves to female whim rather than deal with the consequences of upsetting her. I have no such patience.

Because of this, I have and always will struggle with relationships. Men in general tend to become stressed out by their own emotions, and much more by the vastly stronger and more violent feelings exhibited by women. We like order and peace, and most women are anything but. No matter how many times you try to explain that things would just be better if they calm down and think more logically, they just aren’t capable of it. Not really. In the end, emotion always wins.

There are exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure there will be a few members of the opposite sex who read this and completely disagree. At least, they will disagree with the idea of being ruled by their emotions. I will obviously grant them this, but in my several decades of experience what I have put to digital paper seems to be the truth. Women are emotional creatures and most men struggle with it. A man can either learn to deal with it or he can walk away. The one problem is that we end up getting caught by the one emotion that drives away logic: love.

What do you think about the differences between men and women? Do they cause any issues for you in your personal life? Are your relationships with the opposite sex strong and healthy, or do some of the issues written here plague you just as badly? Or worse? Very little in life is easy, and relationships are near the top of the difficult column. It is up to each of us to decide how we’re going to proceed, and the consequences of our choices affect not only us, but the people we allow into our lives. In the end, all you can be is you.

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Dealing with Crunch Time

I’ve intimated a few times in the past that I struggle sometimes with coming up for topics to write about on this blog. It was a bit easier this morning because I had something happen to me, which I wrote about here, but most days I either have to wait for something to come to me or to come across something that sparks an interest to write. Sometimes it’s just an esoteric thought that I want to expand on; other times it’s some news event that grabs my attention. Either way, I try to focus on things that mean something to me so that my writing is genuine rather than just checking the box.

Every once in a while, though, I get myself into a place where checking the box becomes necessary to meet my self-defined schedule. As an independent (and unpaid) blogger, I have the freedom to write when I want, which means that having a schedule isn’t at all a requirement for what I do. Still, because I have a strong desire to somehow turn this into at least a part time career, I force myself to adhere to some kind of set calendar for publishing articles so I can maintain some kind of consistency and hopefully establish a solid online presence.

In my admittedly hurried rush this morning to get things done, I realized I hadn’t planned at all for the Fourth of July weekend, which means that because yesterday was a day off and I don’t typically write on those days, I have to make up what I didn’t write now to catch up. To add to that, I ended up not writing one day last week, so instead of having just one additional article to write, I have two. Work really starts to pile up when you let your routine slip.

Still, while I’m not a fan of having to cram work in because of my own inattention and laziness, it does present me with the topic of an article as a means of catching up. When you start to realize that things are getting away from you, there are basically two responses: you can either let it go and deal with failing or you can straighten up and get to work. While there are many things in my life that I’m perfectly willing to let slide, once I’ve decided something is important I tend to take it as a point of pride that I get it done on time and at a reasonable level of quality.

I’ve said in the past that I don’t believe in trying to be perfect. Once you’ve gotten your work to the point where either you or others find it acceptable, it’s usually a waste of time to continue putting more effort into it. Many people will disagree with this sentiment, believing that you should always put maximum effort into everything you do, but I believe that you only have so much effort to spread around. You have to prioritize the things that are important to you and put most of your effort into those things, reserving the rest for the mundane things that you just do “well enough”. This means that even the things that are important to you will never get your best. Effort is a finite commodity.

Writing this blog has become something moderately important for me to be consistent about doing, which means that I tend to put a bit more attention into it than I would many of the other things I have to deal with. Obviously it isn’t the center of my attention because I have other things going on that are decidedly more important and pay the bills, but as something I’m dreaming of replacing my current line of work it is something that is high up on the priority list.

The point for you, my dear reader, is that sometimes when things are important you get to a place where it’s crunch time, and you can either let things fall apart or buckle down and get it done. While I’d love for every article I write to be something that is of exceptional quality and of earth shattering meaning to me, when you place yourself into a situation where a schedule must be met you sometimes have to just get something out to accomplish the task. With any luck, your natural abilities will make up for your haste, and my hope is that this is the case for this article.

What do you think about meeting deadlines? How many times have you had to rush through things to get something done on time? Do you ever impose your own schedule on things? Regardless of the source, time is never on your side and you should always be ready to marshal your efforts to get done what needs to be done. Few things are worse than failing to meet expectations, especially your own.

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Sometimes Life Just Wants to Test You

It was not a good morning today. As per usual, I woke up with just enough time to get myself dressed and do my basic hygiene routine before shooting out the door to work. It started out pretty well, but it didn’t last very long. For personal reasons, my morning routine has been somewhat altered for the next couple of months, and while that by itself isn’t that big of a deal, this morning simply seemed to be conspiring against me.

The problems didn’t actually start until after I had completed the additional part of my commute into work. I got caught by a light I normally don’t spend much time at, and then traffic was just extra slow this morning. Impatience is one of the more powerful personality traits in my makeup, so I was already starting to get annoyed. Then as I was exiting the freeway to the surface streets outside my job, someone decided that I didn’t deserve any space to drive on the road and thought it was fine to try to occupy the portion of the road where my car was situated. That’s just a fancy way of saying that they tried to run me off the road.

I was so livid, and then of course I get caught by the light where I turn left to go into my job. Everyone at work agrees that the light is probably the most ridiculous light in the city because it has a ridiculous traffic pattern that breaks things up into more steps than your standard intersection. As usual, I got caught at the beginning of the cycle, so instead of only being five minutes late I ended up being ten. If you’ve read my blog in the past, you’ll understand why being late is something that really doesn’t sit well with me, and every second sitting at the light fuming over being late just made the morning all the more infuriating.

One of my basic tasks when coming in on the first day of the week is to complete a basic cleanup of the office. In the top five of the most irritating things about my job is definitely that we have one bathroom to service not only the people in the office, but also the field workers that come and go throughout the day. This causes a lot of angst amongst the staff in general, but it is worse for me because I have a physical condition that forces me to be in the bathroom a lot. It’s incredibly frustrating when you need to use the restroom but have to wait on two or three people.

The reason I bring this up is that one of the things I try to beat in the morning is getting into the bathroom for cleaning before other people decide they want to get into it. As you might expect from a morning like this, as I was getting into work and getting ready to start cleaning, someone was in the bathroom. This wouldn’t normally be a problem except that the supplies I needed were in the bathroom, which meant I couldn’t get started at all. So in the end it was multiple delays and a near miss accident that comprised a morning full of frustration.

My natural reaction to things like this is to lose my temper and start shouting and screaming. Of course, in my private time I go ahead and do this because it releases the tension and allows me to vent my frustrations. Unfortunately, when it happens on my way in to work I’m not really able to deal with it in the way that is best for me. I end up having to bottle it up inside and just hold it in until it dissipates over time. This isn’t particularly good for me as it prolongs the amount of time that I’m stressed out.

As a professional and former Marine, I have the discipline to do this, but I prefer to be able to just get it all out as soon as possible. Perhaps that’s part of my impatience, but it’s just the way I work. Part of this post is getting it out in some kind of way since I don’t have the ability to put it out into the world the way I’d like to. Writing isn’t nearly as satisfying as shouting, but it is what it is. At least I have some way of getting myself back to a better frame of mind.

What do you think about dealing with problems? Do you get frustrated, or are you able to take it calmly? Is your life made more difficult by an inability to respond well to unfolding events, or are you “cool as a cucumber”? We all have things we end up dealing with, and the way we respond to them is unique to each of us. There is no wrong way to handle these kinds of things so long as it doesn’t adversely affect those around you. Never be afraid to be you.

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Personal Post: An Inability to Focus

I’ve spent most of my life struggling to figure out what to do with it. I’ve had a lot of dreams and aspirations for things I might have done along the way, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some unique experiences that most people never get an opportunity to have. From riding on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine with my father as a kid to flying airplanes to performing in front of tens of thousands of people as part of a military band in several different professional sports stadiums, the first part of my life was much more of a wild ride than I tend to give it credit for.

The thing is that the last decade or so of my life has been a stark contrast to what my life was before. Rather than being involved in things that put me in crazy places with lifelong memories, I’ve retreated into myself to exist in a world of isolation. I’ve always been a very private person and being social is just not something I have any desire for. I never have. What changed was that I transitioned from being in a position to be provided with opportunities to participate in fantastic events to a very long dry spell where nothing interesting ever happens in my life anymore.

One could look at my habit of extensive use of video games and movies as distractions to identify the culprit of my most recent spat of boredom, and I’m sure that’s true to some extent. However, the real problem is like many other things in life in that it lies on a lower level that isn’t easily identifiable. For most things in life, the only way we can bring ourselves to push ourselves to do something is if it is a passion, and that’s where I struggle. I’ve never really been passionate about anything.

To be able to make a sustained effort toward anything in life, there must be passion. It is the internal drive to keep doing something you love that gives us the ability to keep coming back to it over and over until we polish it into something we can be proud of and that other people admire. It is only when we have something that makes us valuable to others that we start to see various opportunities being presented to us, and those are the times when interesting things begin to happen.

The longest thing I ever really participated in outside of video games or watching movies was music, but it wasn’t because I was passionate about it. It was simply something that came easily to me that turned out to be a great way to make a living. Sure, it was the military and that was a different animal than what most people think about when they imagine the music industry, but it paid the bills and gave me some pretty amazing experiences. Part of me misses that time of my life because of the things I got to see and do, but I haven’t really picked up an instrument since I left and that is a solid indication that music isn’t really a passion. In the end, it was just a thing I did that happened to result in something fantastic.

This is where I’m really struggling in this phase of my life. I’ve never really been passionate about anything except maybe flying, but the door for that as a career has pretty much closed on me. I’ve only got a couple of decades left before most pilot jobs would force me into mandatory retirement, so getting into loads of debt for half a career just doesn’t make sense. Aside from that, I just can’t think of anything I’d like to do strongly enough to really pursue it, which has resulted in nearly a decade of wandering about with no direction.

It is difficult to exist this way, having no real purpose or path forward. I have some idea of things I’d like to do with my life overall, such as travelling around to see things be it in my travel trailer or on a sailboat, but those aren’t really anything productive that I can do. They are simply an end state I’d like to achieve. Even if I can somehow figure out a way to make it happen, I struggle to see how I can be content with it if I don’t have some sort of purpose for my life that makes me feel like a man should feel; like I’m getting something meaningful accomplished.

The problem with me is that I’m one of those people who becomes very bored with things very quickly. It doesn’t take long for something new and interesting to become boring and repetitive to me. After the initial infatuation with something wears off, it turns into a grind and that’s just not something I deal with very well. I crave something interesting and exciting. I can’t just sit still and do nothing. My mind needs something to engage it, to keep things moving, to save me from the urge to scream out of boredom.

It certainly doesn’t help that my career has been comprised of boring office jobs, and also that these jobs have been mostly sitting around with nothing much to do except wait for someone to need something. I’ve passed the last eight years or so of my working life watching YouTube, partially because my employers can’t seem to figure out how to use me, but also because I can’t summon the will to engage in this kind of work with any serious enthusiasm. It all just feels so trivial. What does it accomplish? How does it make me valuable?

I’ve had ideas of things I’d like to do that I imagine would be interesting. Obviously I’ve done a lot of writing, including the first book of a fantasy trilogy that I never got around to finishing. I’ve always loved role playing games, as well as watching movies, so acting has always been something I thought would be a cool career. With all the movies I’ve watched over the course of my life, I think I could actually be a fairly decent director. The thing is that with all of these ideas of things I could do, I can’t motivate myself to do them because the effort involved to get anywhere with any of them is monumental and I can’t help but imagine wasting my time doing all that only to get bored with it just as I’m starting to get somewhere.

It’s the same thing with my job right now. I’ve been wanting to look for something different, partially because I don’t like many of the things I’m asked to do here, but also because I want to find work that I can do remotely so I can start moving around unrestricted, not being tied to one particular location. The problem is that looking for work requires effort, and I just can’t summon the focus to do that until I absolutely have to. Even though I imagine it would be better for me to find another job, I just can’t focus on it enough because looking for work is tedious and boring and I just can’t be bothered. Maybe for the five minutes or so that I’m angry about something at work, but once that evaporates it’s back to just living with it.

I guess the point of this post is to articulate the idea that some of us really struggle with living in a way that prevents us from moving anywhere, not because we don’t have valuable skills and abilities, but because we just can’t maintain our focus on any one thing long enough to really get anywhere with it. It’s unclear to me how to escape from this choking loop of self-sabotage, but I really wish I could find something I can be passionate enough to center my life around.

Until then, if it ever happens, I will continue to struggle with simply working to make a living. Most of the people in the world do it and many of them are just fine with it, and one of the things I’ve learned is that I can do what I have to do to get by. I simply imagine that I suffer through it more than most because it’s all just so boring, and I can’t stand to be bored. All I can do is hope that things change for me someday, and try to patiently wait for it.

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Working Outside Your Comfort Zone

I’ve been in a recent article that I’m a 90’s kid. This means that I grew up when the computer revolution was really hitting it’s peak. I can remember back to my early days with things like five inch floppy disks and big, heavy CRT monitors. My favorite games were Doom and Heretic and Master of Magic. It was a different time and things worked very differently back then.

The reason this is important for the purposes of this article is that over the years I’ve become very accustomed to certain ways of doing things. My career since leaving military service has been primarily administrative in nature, utilizing the skills I gained through the years growing up with computers. I did quite a lot of typing in chat rooms in my younger days and that gave me the ability to type more than 90 words per minute on a traditional keyboard.

I remember when the first iPhone came out and how excited I was for a device that didn’t require any accessories to control. Simply touch the screen and get started. It was revolutionary for the time and I can remember the lines of people clamoring to get the first of them. My life changed the day I got my first smart phone.

Still, one of the things that didn’t really appeal to me about touch screen phones was typing. I just could never get anywhere near as fast on my phone as I could on my PC. Part of it was the inefficient nature of keyboards at the time, but mostly it was just that I was already set in my ways using hardware for typing. Things got much better when Swype came out not all that long ago, but for a while I really didn’t like typing on the phone.

Even with new technologies like Swype, I tend to avoid using my phone for anything text related. It just feels so cumbersome. I’m used to being able to type without looking at my hands and just watching the screen for errors, most of which I can feel long before my eyes notice. It’s all just muscle memory at this point.

However, sometimes you just need to get over your discomfort to get things done, and this article is a perfect example. The one time I have today to write for my blog is a time where I don’t have access to a traditional keyboard. This entire article has been written on my phone using the touch screen keyboard. I’ve had to step outside my comfort zone to get done what needs to be done.

There are many things in life that require that we set aside our personal preferences in the name of getting things done. Some of them are small like typing on a phone, while others are huge issues that require massive leaps of faith and courage. Regardless of what it is, being willing to grow outside of the little boxes that define us is a critical part of developing as human beings. Never be afraid to do something different, because the worst that can happen is you fail and learn. No one can really ask for more than that.

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