Saturday, March 30, 2013

I, the Arguer

Innumerable people have gotten frustrated with me over the years, because I am an aggressively argumentative soul. But allow me to explain something that may aid in building the patience I so effectively try.

Arguing is how I explore and understand things.


I am an aggressive conversationalist. I argue. But it is not a negative thing. It’s not me trying to prove you wrong. It’s not me being a whiny baby about someone not liking my work. It's not me being unwilling to admit that I'm wrong. (Mostly. I do fight, just like anyone. But honestly, most of the time that's not what I'm trying to do.)

It’s just me exploring the issue. Think of it like this: you can’t have a perfect plan or strategy until you’ve addressed every single weakness and compensated for it.

When you suggest something as a solution, I must test for weaknesses. This is when you come in and respond with possible answers to these weaknesses. We go back and forth until we’ve either exhausted the issue or our time.

Next time I start arguing one of your suggestions, I'm not unwilling to take your suggestions, or upset that you're giving them. I'm not fighting against them. Do not take offense. I'm just trying to explore the issue.

In return, I'll try really hard to stop being so acerbic and gruff about it, so you don't think I'm angry.


** I do not say that in a "This is just how I am, so get over it" way. Because that's stupid.

One of the catch-phrases that our modern society has propagated is "That's just who I am". Oh, yeah, it sounds really good. It sounds like a slogan of love, tolerance, and self-acceptance.


Let me clarify. When taken in a certain context, then yes, it is a great motto. We should show love to those around us. We should appreciate people even though they have different hobbies or interests than we do. Don't be all judging me because I geek out about Doctor Who.

But even though that's what it should mean, it doesn't so much.

In reality, the phrase embodies one of the biggest lies this side of the millennium. It secretly tells us that we can't change. That our flaws and imperfections are permanent. That we can not grow, improve, or transcend that which we were given at birth.

It tells us that we're not good enough, and never will be, so get over it and move on with your worthless and sub-standard lives.

And the sad part is that we believe it. We use it as an excuse to take the lazy road. It's always harder to grow and change. But if you don't, it's not because you can't. It's because you won't. It's because you believed the lie.

The truth is that human beings are enormously powerful.

Human beings, by nature of their being human, have the ability to change and grow. Unique to all life on this planet, humans do not have to be stuck with what they were given at birth.

Take a look at history. Read the stories of those epic leaders who literally changed the entire world. George Washington. Joan of Arc. Winston Churchill. Napoleon. Genghis Khan. Gandhi. Mother Teresa. Martin Luther. Do you think those people are unique? That they were born in a different class than you or I? That they were somehow beyond our reach?

You would be wrong. They were human, just like we are. The only difference is that those people recognized their power and acted on it. They knew their potential, and turned it into kinetic energy.

Every single human being can change the world.

Weakness is not a disease to be caught. It is not a gene one is born with. Weakness is a choice.

Do not ever fall into the trap. Do not believe the lie. Do not use the excuse. Everyone ever born upon the earth has power and strength that we most of the time don't realize we have.

You're braver than you believe. You're stronger than you seem. You're smarter than you think.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

On Pork Chops and Eleanor Roosevelt

There's an anti-bullying video going around lately. (Here) Totally for that, and all. I don't approve of bullying in any form, and I definitely think that we need to improve ourselves as humans. I was picked on in school, too, and it sucked. There's no reason in the world that people should hurt other people.

I would just like to say that up front, so no one misunderstands me. (Intentionally or otherwise.)

So this is not a post about how people "just need to get over it" or "it's not as bad as people are saying." Don't even start with me.

I just want to add something that this guy didn't seem to grasp. Something that can help, even when all of the bullying doesn't stop. Because let's face it, humans are stupid. We do dumb things. Some more than others. And as long as we're imperfect, people will hurt other people.

But human beings are also strong. We are resilient. We have the power to change worlds. We have the power to be great. We have the power to not shrink.

That power is called choice. 

The guy who made this video treated everyone's stories very much from the "victim of fate" point of view. People made fun of me, and therefore I am scarred. Damaged goods forever. My life is ruined because of the cruelty of others. I have been destroyed.

Well, I don't believe in victim of fate. 

Yes, I was picked on in school all the time. And yeah, it hurt. Not saying it doesn't. It's hard to accept yourself when no one else does.

But as I've learned more about life, and how it REALLY works, I mentally kicked those jerks in the face and decided to stop giving them all the power.

When you believe what they say about you, you're handing over the remote control. Here, I'm gonna let you be in charge of how I feel now. Go ahead. Push all my buttons.

It's easier said than done. Human beings are tricky that way. Because we can't reach perfection, we decide that we're worthless. Nothing could be farther from the truth. No one realizes how strong they really are.

But you are strong. Believe it. 

You have the unbelievably momentous power of choice.

"Weak" is not a disease you can catch. "Weak" is not a genetic disorder, or an inflicted wound.

Weak is when you let the bad guys dictate your life. When you believe the worthless things they say about you. When you hand the remote off to someone else and stop taking an interest in your own fate.

Weak is an action.

You don't have control over whether someone bullies you. You can't make someone else's choices. But you absolutely can control how you react to it.

You are not weak.

Don't believe me?

How about I tell you a story. A true story about someone I knew. Everything in it is true, but the name. 

I will call him Fred. 

Fred's mom died too young. And he had a lousy dad. A really lousy dad. The sort of dad who made his teenage son hold down three jobs to pay the bills, because he was too lazy to get his butt off the couch. 

Fred was considered something of a strange one in school. 

Fred had no extended family to step in and help. 

Most of his community didn't even know what was going on. 

By the time high school was half done, Fred left his dad. He had a hefty bag full of clothes. He slept in his car every night, parked behind the grocery store. He washed up in the gym locker rooms

Most kids in these situations end up on paths that are all sorts of the wrong kind. And if any kid in the world had an excuse to crumble under the pressure, Fred did. 
Want to know what happened to him?

Fred made the national honor society.

Fred graduated third in the class. 

Fred got a full ride scholarship to a prestigious college. 

Fred made something of himself. Of course, I haven't seen him in a good long while. But from what I gather, he became some kind of uber successful engineer. 

Bullying hurts. Family drama hurts. Loneliness hurts. And yeah, like the guy said, sometimes words hurt more than sticks and stones. 

That stuff scars. 

That stuff changes you forever. 

But how does it change you? That's up to you. 

Happiness and success are not inversely related to the amount of pain. Pain exists in all walks of life, for all people. What matters are the choices you make. Take those scars and turn them into something. No one can stop you from doing, seeing, or becoming anything you want. No one but you.