Thursday, February 22, 2007

Peeling Onions Part 4

In a continuing series of crap that comprises my inner most being, I thought I would write about why I am so angry. Yeah, I know nearly everything that has happened in my life has turned me into a bitter, middle-aged guy, but I thought I would explore it a little deeper today.
I was looking at a picture of me as a kid. I was maybe 4 in the photo, and I had a look that sort of was happy and hopeful.

What the hell happened?

Was there one event that turned me from a happy kid, looking to a future filled with promise into a cranky coot just hanging around and waiting to die? I did have the one bad summer as previously described, but it takes more than one bad summer to create a train wreck of a life.
No, it wasn't one event, but instead it was a series of things that turned me into the mess that is banging away on the keyboard today. I know that self-esteem is one of the buzzwords when one talks of raising children. It seems that so many parents go the other way. Johnny poops, and it becomes just short of a Mardi Gras festival.
I sure didn't grow up in this environment. Looking back on it, it appears that I disappointed my parents on a regular basis. At least that is the way they acted. If I took a test and got a 99, well, why didn't I work a bit harder and get that 100? If my report card was 6 A's and a B, well, what the hell happened? Your cousin got all A's.
When I graduated from grammar school, I was 2nd in the class of about 30. No too shabby. WRONG. I was told that I embarassed the family. How could I do such a thing. As I type this, it hurts again. Thinking about it, I should have come to the realization that my parents were jerks at times, and this was one of those times.
Instead, I did something different. In my young mind, I made a decision. I wasn't even going to try any more. I was going to do just enough to get by. Since I went to a private school that was very highly rated, and very competitive, I was going to aim for a B. It was second best, and good enough. I knew that most likely, I couldn't be first (250 or so guys in my class) so I decided, hell with it. I would do enough to make it look like I was trying, but not so much that I would aim for the top and fail. Everybody accepted that I was just so-so, I got my B's and all was well. I didn't really have to work hard to get the B's so that was fine with me, too. No hard work, and no parental guilt. A win-win situation all around.
This is kind of funny. I was not one of the top students, and we all took the SAT's. The teacher went around the room and everyone said their score. I was in the slacker group, but I killed on the SAT test. It was around 1200 total (back then, this was definately in the elite catagory.)
One of the guys in my class got so pissed. He said that I was lying, because there was no way I scored higher than him. I told him I guess I was just smarter than him. He didn't like that at all. But it did make me laugh. The guy started getting angry, so the teacher made me show him my test scores (even he didn't believe it.)
Anyway, most of the guys were going to take it again, so I did too. They got even more pissed because while nearly everyone's scores went up, mine went up even more. I thought the guy's head was going to explode, then. His final words to me were along the lines that I must be a good guesser because I was obviously his intellectual inferior. Or did he say I was a friggin moron? I don't remember exactly.
Back to the slacker period in my life. Because I was so afraid of failure (failure being anything but the best) it made me not try. I was a perfectionist. This is kind of funny, but I have since learned that perfectionists are among the least perfect people. Rather than fail (that is, not be perfect) we don't even try. When I do something, it is usually perfect (at least in my demented mind) or I don't do it at all. Talk about a crippling feeling. This is worse than any of the crippling diseases I have since been afflicted with. In fact, looking back on the diseases, most are lifestyle ones. And because I couldn't eat or exercise perfectly, I didn't do it. Good enough just was not an option.
I'm so beat from writing this, that for today, I'll settle for "good enough."

Progress, not perfection.