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Past, Present, and Potential

July 31, 2009

Preface
This is the story of me: how I got here, how I am right now, and how I’m going to live my life from here on out. This will chronicle just about everything that I think was responsible for making me as I am, and this will detail how I’m going to break free from their influence. This will detail my goals in life. This will be an expression of my heart and soul. This will be the longest thing I’ve ever written, so, if you can’t handle long reads, go away now. If you’d like to stay and listen to a story, grab your favorite beverage, and sit down with me. We’re going on a journey.

One more thing: listen to this old Taoist story…

A farmer (in some instances a Zen Master) has but one horse, and one day it ran away. Everyone in the village says, “Oh, how awful!” The farmer just smiles slightly and says, “We’ll see.”

One day, the horse returns, bringing two other beautiful horses with it. The villagers say, “How wonderful!” The farmer just smiles slightly and says, “We’ll see.”

A week later, the farmer’s son was thrown off of one of the new horses and ended up breaking his leg. The villagers say, “How dreadful!” And the farmer smiles slightly and says, “We’ll see.”

The next week, a war broke out, and every man of ability was drafted into the army. But, due to his broken leg, the farmer’s son wasn’t able to go. The villagers say, “How wonderful!” But the farmer still smiles and says, “We’ll see.”

As you listen to my story, please try to keep the story of the farmer in mind.

Let’s begin.

PART 1: THE PAST

Beginnings

I was born about 16 and a half years ago (at time of writing). It was an absolutely frigid afternoon – typical New England winter weather. My hometown? _________ , Massachusetts, and it has had a profound influence on me throughout my life, probably more than anything else. You may wonder whether its impact was good or bad, but I am unable to judge things as good or bad.

As a young child, I was happy. Very happy. More than that, I was independent, curious, and very mischievous. I did what I wanted to, when I wanted to, others be damned. I didn’t care about what others thought of me, and I just had fun. I was constantly moving and playing with the world – the world was literally my playground. I had some friends to play with, and I also took up playing ice hockey when I was a wee 3 year old. I’ve been on skates for as long as I can remember, and hockey is still an integral part of my being.

One of my earliest memories is the moment I learned how to read. My parents say that I learned to read far before that time, but I was just putting letters together and learning how to read words very slowly then. It wasn’t real reading. I remember sitting there in my preschool “classroom”, the light filtering in to my right through the blinds. Something in my mind clicked, and I suddenly knew: I could read. Call it a hunch. So, testing my new hypothesis, I picked up a book off the rack, and, sure enough, I could read. I was ecstatic: I could read fluidly when the rest of my peers could barely read a few words, struggling to sound them out. I told my best friends and teacher about it, and from then on, it became clear to me that, intellectually, I was a cut above my peers.

Being the smartest guy in the room for 95% of my existence has had a tremendous effect on me – good and bad. It has lent me so much confidence in my faculties of the mind, but, at the same time, it has made me border on arrogant. It has isolated me from my peers, because I have never been able to really identify with them, as if my intellectual aptitude has put me on another level. My ability combined with my insatiable curiosity and drive to learn had put my head in the clouds, constantly thinking, while they were seemingly trapped in ignorance. Now I realize that it is a gift that I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I can put it to use in positive ways, besides just learning (which I love to do).

From the start in school, I dominated intellectually – in first grade, while most kids were reading “M” level books, I was the only kid reading “Z” level, the highest level. Nobody was even past “R”.

As an aside: I was, and still am, exceptionally competitive. I was the quintessential “sore loser” for quite a while, and had quite a temper. Whenever I lost, I got really angry, and started crying on many occasions as a little kid. Since then, I’ve significantly mellowed out, but my drive for winning is still there.

As I mentioned earlier, my intelligence isolated me from many of my peers in a way. Yes, I could interact with them fine and made plenty of acquaintances, but I never really connected with anyone outside of sports because, well, it was like living in different universes. They did their thing (watch TV, other mindless stuff), and I did mine (read, play video games). Combined with the inconvenient truth that my city is exceptionally awful, and I really didn’t have many people I liked. What do I mean by awful? My city has a serious drug problem, and it is poverty ridden in many places. The crime rate is high – luckily I live on the outskirts in a good neighborhood. The result is that there aren’t many in the public schools who like learning. And when that happens, you end up with a lot of people who don’t like you because you care about your education and love to learn.

Man Among Boys

With all my intellectual superiority, as well as the guidance of my older brother, I started to mature very quickly. While most of my peers were and still are consuming mindless reality TV shows and the like, I was off reading and acting like an autonomous adult. I was more quiet and reserved than my immature and dramatic peers, choosing to avoid their petty, meaningless lifestyles and fill my head with knowledge and entertainment by reading, and when I wanted to relax, I played video games, which was a really nerdy thing to do back then (since, gaming has become more mainstream). It became apparent that I had taste, and I knew what I liked, whereas they didn’t and for the most part still don’t. I knew what I liked and I engaged in it, even though I did most of these things alone.

Though I presented the illusion of being totally unaffected by my peers, they still had influence on me, in some indirect ways. I started developing social anxiety, feeling judged by my peers at all times. I lost my spark to the social crowd – I became afraid to express myself and say what I meant, for fear of being singled out as a “smarty-pants” who made other people feel inferior. I engaged in some self-censoring and retreated back into my head more.

Depression

Over time, during middle school, I started getting more and more depressing thoughts. I pictured life as bleak and unhappy, because I “saw things the way they were”, and I was lonely at the top. I saw people as inferior, though I never verbalized that thought. Overall, I just was lonely, yearning for deeper connection. And, at the same time, I felt stifled by other people. My thought process was this: I was smarter than 99% of them, and they were making fun of me and judging me because of that, and they didn’t like the things I liked. Ergo, they were bad people. And, following that, I felt like I was damned to being ostracized for the rest of my life, which was a hard thing to swallow for an 11 year old boy.

One note I’d like to make is the fact that I had it GREAT compared to other kids who were made fun of and the like. I wasn’t ever beat up or totally humiliated in front of my peers. People mostly left me alone, and I engaged in normal small talk with them, but I put up a shell, and never really was authentic with people. Like I said, I just resorted to small talk, which is what everyone else did. But, to my acquaintances, I was just normal other than my mental ability.

However, I was haunted by the bigger things in life. I dreamt of the future constantly, about the meaning of life, about just about everything huge and scary. I never ever believed in God, and maybe that had an influence on my near nihilistic thinking. Nevertheless, I took on a gloomy outlook on life, and fell into depression, which runs in my family. I was placed on anti-depressants, which made me feel like I was inferior, like I was sub-human. I looked around and saw people who were happy without drugs, and I just ended up hating myself more. I didn’t like that I wasn’t normal. I wish I could just get off the pills and lose the smartness and fade into the crowd. But I couldn’t do that. It must be noted that, because of the accompanying psychological effects of being on pills (feeling inferior because I was being medicated), the anti-depressants actually worsened my depression. I lied about feeling less depressed so I could just get off them. And when I did, I felt better, but certainly not happy. My self-esteem also made a return. However, depressive thoughts still followed me like a shadow, and they were going to make a return in the future…

In Limbo

Around this time, I started to get interested in girls. In school, everything remained the same, and though I wasn’t explicitly ostracized or anything like that, I still felt different than the other kids, and didn’t really bond with other people. I found a group to hang out with, sure, but I never found the deep connection I was looking for there. However, as I started talking to different girls, I’d find one with a semblance of a thought pattern. So I started talking to them on the internet, as I didn’t have a cell phone at the time and EVERYONE used AOL instant messenger. Eventually it came to pass that I’d attach myself to the girl that I liked the most (rather, gave me the most attention), and I’d start talking to them for hours on end on the internet. However, I was of the thought that sexuality was bad and rude and girls like it when you’re the romantic super-saccharine nice guy, so I played that part.

For three years, I talked to these girls, and they became the objects of my desire (I usually focused on one girl per year). They would give me attention by engaging in detached conversation, mostly about their own lives. I would give them advice about everything – I literally was their advice guru, and would advise them about just about everything, including their love lives. What’s interesting is that when I desired these girls, they ALWAYS had boyfriends, who they complained to me about because they were “jerks” and didn’t treat them right. Every single time, those boyfriends were my friends, but that didn’t effect my advice. I, liking them, condemned my friends, and agreed with them at every turn, functioning as a doormat. My girl-friends always said, “Oooooh you’re so nice, I love you!” and stuff like that after I listened to their sob stories. In reality, I was more of a doormat than an advice giver, though I always had ulterior motives. I secretly wished that these girls would break up with their jerk boyfriends (more proof that I’m superior to them, see!) and go out with me, the nice, romantic, worthy guy. At the time, I was utterly convinced that these girls were crazy for staying with jerks and not going out with someone as nice as me, who wouldn’t give them problems, but I still always harbored hopes for their turnaround.

During this time, my ego inflated enormously, since I thought I was so much better than the other guys. However, I was also resentful of them, because they had the girls I wanted, and I, the “superior” boy, was all alone with no girlfriend. This is especially pathetic to write because we were all only 12 and 13 years old at the time, and had no concept of what a real relationship conceived of. However, social conditioning taught us that whoever had a girlfriend (thus, validated by girls) was king, and I was caught in a contradiction: I was smarter than my other friends, was nice to girls (which is what they said they wanted), but they had girlfriends – more specifically, they had the girls that I wanted. So I was trapped in a dichotomy: either I was better than everyone else because I was smarter and nicer than them, or they were better than me because they had girlfriends. I didn’t ever resolve it or even think of it that way at the time, and, I started developing a HUGE ego around being better because I based my identity on my intellect and my “niceness” towards girls, because I was pleasing them and their boyfriends appeared not to be.

With every one of these girls, I ended up not talking to them after awhile, probably after it became clear that they would never leave their boyfriends for me. This gave me some time to actually cultivate myself, instead of basing my identity on their validation. And by the 8th grade I started losing some of the ego, and carving out my own identity, talking to people outside of sports more. I still was largely the same person, but had opened up a little, had more acquaintances, was a bit more secure. I still was excelling in school, still played hockey 5 days a week (I guess I didn’t mention that before), and still had some depressing thoughts on the side. I still didn’t like most of my peers that much. However, my 8th grade year was the most “normal” year of my life. I still wasn’t happy, and had high hopes that, in high school, kids would be more mature.

Low School

In 9th grade, I figured I had a fresh start. I started to associate with everyone, while keeping my 8th grade friends. I was placed in geometry with a bunch of sophomores because I did well on math placement tests. This was absolutely pivotal in how I was shaped that year.

In geometry, I knew a lot of the older kids in there from sports, and I started proving that I belonged in there by getting 100s on every test and, in general, being my usual, smart self. I befriended a couple of the brighter, more attractive girls in that class, let’s call them Alex and Bella. Alex and I hit it off well, with some light flirting, and she was amazingly good looking. I ended up sitting next to Bella because my best friend, Derek, stole my seat next to Alex on the 4th day of school (I was pretty mad at him at that point), so Bella and I bantered in class every day, just having good times. I thought things were looking up. I was actually enjoying myself in high school.

One day in late October, Bella invited me to a Halloween party that was to be attended by her friends, namely Alex (it was at Alex’s house). I felt a little uncomfortable since I was going to go a party, as a freshman, with a bunch of sophomore girls. Alone. So I said, “I’ll only go if Derek goes,” and eventually Derek accepted. He picked me up that Halloween night, and it was on.

Upon arriving at Alex’s, Derek and I were introduced to the other girls who were there, a couple of whom we already knew, and one we didn’t know – Coco, Alex’s best friend. To make a long story short, Derek and I stayed with the ladies for the night, I with Alex, he with Coco. Nothing really happened of note, besides I had fun.

Though me and Alex never panned out, I did get Coco’s screename on AIM so we could chat sometime. And then Derek took a leap of faith and asked her out, and she said yes. I think you can see where this is going.

Yes, I started acting as Coco’s advice guru (it took awhile for this to happen). Though, at the same time, me and her realized that we were incredibly alike. We had just about everything in common – personality traits, music/movie preferences, mannerisms, thoughts on life, etc. I found someone who was just like me (though, admittedly, she isn’t as brilliant as I am in a logical sense; she’s more artsy and less math geeky like I am). But she was the most intelligent peer I’d ever had, and quite possibly, the only peer I’d ever had. We became best friends and talked for hours on the computer about just about everything every day. I’d meet her halfway between our houses to take walks with her, so we could talk in person and enjoy each other’s company. It was the truest friendship I’ve ever had.

She ended up breaking up with Derek, but I didn’t feel anything romantic for her, as I still semi-wanted Alex, but wasn’t willing to plow through the “boyfriend” excuse, even though she actually did have a boyfriend. Then Coco started going out with Tim, another kid on the hockey team (me and Derek made varsity hockey as freshmen, quite a feat). After Coco started going out with Tim, our relationship turned into something resembling my chats with girls in middle school: her complaining about her boyfriend, me consoling her.

Eventually, it turned out that Bella liked me romantically, so I agreed to have a pseudo-relationship with her. Why not, right? Well, as soon as I got into the relationship, I started being a negative doormat who supplicated to her and whined about everything (not that I knew that then). We ended up sharing a locker so we could see each other more. Bad idea. Eventually, she broke up with me, saying, “the attraction’s gone”, and I had no idea what she meant at the time (now I do, though!). I blamed myself for it, but I didn’t know why (I beat myself up a lot whenever I made mistakes). She kicked me out of her locker and pretty much told me straight up that everyone hated me. I bought it.

Depression, Redux

After breaking up with Bella, I went through hell. I felt like crap every day, and really started feeling paranoid. I, afraid that everyone hated me now, stopped talking to most of my sophomore friends. I sunk, deep into the ocean. It sort of resembled my earlier depression, except my identity was taken away from me – yet again, I based my self-esteem based on female validation. Once that validation was removed, I felt like I was worth nothing, even though I knew that I was a good, honest, and very smart person. It occurred to me that I shouldn’t care about what others think, and that I should be happy within myself. I knew these and accepted them as truth my whole life, so why didn’t I ever put them into practice?

I rediscovered reading again (thank goodness!), and started creating an identity for myself. However, I started feeling a bit of misanthropy for mankind in general, because my ex said everyone hated me. I didn’t hate everyone I came across, I just started to be leery of social interaction. I started reading a lot, and focusing on my own life, and I tried many times to pull myself together, and I ended up moving in a positive direction after a couple of months. This is around the time that I started getting involved in politics as an outlet for my misanthropy (so I could lambast the GOP instead of people in general). Also during this time, I still talked with Coco quite often, and… I fell for her. Hard. And I fell into the familiar cycle of advising her to break up with her “jerk” boyfriend and subtly suggesting that she choose me instead.

The Fountainhead

It was around this time that my brother bought me Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead for me to read (at this point I was reading books like there was no tomorrow). That book was a godsend, as it had confirmed many things I had thought of during my lifetime: that other people’s opinions don’t matter, that I should be independent, that I shouldn’t be ashamed of myself, that I should be proud to be who I am, that I should really love life, that I can’t derive my happiness from others, that I shouldn’t care if I make others feel inferior, that I should live life to the fullest. I started to try to put these principles into play, and my life got better. I wasn’t “happy” all the time, but

During the summer break between freshman year and sophomore year, I also got into blogging about politics so I could, again, vent my misanthropy. It was a great way to condemn people as a global entity so I could say, “SEE, YOU PEOPLE, YOU ELECTED THESE BASTARDS INTO OFFICE!” Now, my misanthropy is still alive and kicking, though I don’t hate people anymore, I have a healthy amount of distrust for them. However, it still makes me a misanthrope.

I also started to gain an interest in philosophy and the like. The summer was good to me, with me focusing on training for hockey and blogging. I made the resolution to come back to school a happier person.

10th

At this point, I was fairly content with myself and my life, and didn’t mind that I didn’t have a whole lot of friends. I had some decent friends that I’d hang out with, but I still didn’t have a best friend I did everything with. Maybe that’s because I put up a shell and deliberately decided to shield myself from people after moving in a misanthropic manner.

Anyway, I was living a decent life full of awesome, life changing books that I picked up. And I was still decidedly smitten with Coco. I wanted her. Bad. So I did what all people do when they need advice… Turn to the internet.

That was, no joke, the best thing I have ever done in my life. Amazing, eh?

I can’t elucidate what exactly I stumbled upon on the internet, other than something resembling Fight Club. And you know what the first rule of Fight Club is? Don’t talk about Fight Club.

Essentially, I learned this: to get the girl, I must become worthy. To become worthy, I must improve myself.

From that point on, I realized I’d have to go on the journey of self-improvement, finding new, better mindsets. But, a few weeks in, I eventually was forced to come to the conclusion that I have to improve for myself, not for some stupid girl.

Suddenly, though I wanted Coco, I wanted something else more: to improve myself. To grow. To change. To become the person I’m meant to be.

And that’s when I truly started out on this path.

A little amount of time (9 months) has passed since then (I started in October 2008). Nothing of note happened, besides I didn’t get the girl. But the thing is, that doesn’t matter! The things I’ve learned in those 9 months – they’ll be shown here. It’s not the entire thing, but it’s the most important thing.

PART 2: REVELATIONS

Now that you’ve read my epic story, here are my revelations about my past life.

The first is this: I was trapped in the social conditioning matrix for a long, long time. Still am a little bit, though with the epiphanies I’ve been having lately, I’m starting to become truly liberated.

What is social conditioning?

From a young age, we learn from other people what to do and how to behave. We’re told many things that are true, and some that aren’t.

The number one thing that is taught to us that is so destructive is this: YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH. That is the core of all the bad things social conditioning has imposed on us. I cannot emphasize this enough.

I’ll repeat, social conditioning has taught us that WE’RE NOT ENOUGH.

This is the biggest problem with today’s society: we are taught that ourselves are not enough to achieve happiness or self-esteem so we chase it in external things. The two most common things people chase happiness in are validation from others and material possessions that are mere luxuries. The ad-execs and others have taught us that the consumerist ideal is what we should aspire to, buying needless things because we think that they’ll give us happiness or complete us. But, the thing is, they suck us in with it. We buy one thing, and the novelty wears off. So we figure we’ll buy another thing that we think has a better chance of fulfilling us. Rinse and repeat.

Validation works in the same way: we’re taught that how others perceive us (preferably enhanced by the acquisition of material goods) dictates your happiness in life. Ergo, we’re taught that we’re “good” people when people approve of us and “bad” people when people disapprove or dislike us. Thus, people are driven into self-denial, doing things to please others, and they get disappointed when they find it brings them no sense of self-esteem. So they keep trying to do what is “accepted” by society at large – their friends, their family, whatever group holds most value to them. They lose their identities to groups, then wonder why they don’t feel totally happy with their lives. Consider when people do start on their own path and see people criticizing them or condemning them for being “different”, like I was as a child. I slipped into the social conditioning mantra and never really came out. My “yearning for a deeper connection”? Yeah, that was socially conditioned into me. All the befriending girls, playing the nice guy, hoping that they’ll turn around and like me? Social conditioning. The validation seeking from others, becoming needy? Social conditioning.

(I just came to that conclusion while writing this. This is mindblowing. Oh my god. I can’t believe that. I didn’t plan it. THIS IS WHY I’M WRITING THIS HUGE POST)

The end result is that our society becomes so dependent on others is that it’s not even funny. You know the “tyranny of the majority” in democracies? Well, that’s exactly it. We’re ruled by the tyranny of the majority in the worst possible way – we’re at the mercy of other people’s opinions, of other people’s decisions, of other people’s everything. We’re taught to ignore what we want at our core and go with what others say to do. Again, many times social conditioning is good, but the teaching that WE’RE NOT ENOUGH is so destructive and depressing it’s not even funny.

Looking back on my life, I can wholeheartedly say that most of the things that I’ve done that ended up having a negative immediate result stems from that teaching that we’re not enough, that we need external things to feel good and happy about our lives and about ourselves. Of course, having food and shelter and clothing is essential, but I’m talking about luxuries and validation from other people. And plus, if you’re in dire need of food/shelter/clothes, you’re not going to be worried about what other people think of you in the first place; you’re going to be working your hardest to get your necessities.

Another thing I’d like to cover is that we all have our “core self” during childhood. That core gets hidden from the rest of the world because of our egos and especially our socially conditioned reality. Notice how as a child I was really excited when I learned to do just about everything and I didn’t care what others thought of me? How I just had fun and was happy all the time? That sounds like just about everyone else’s childhood, doesn’t it? Except our socially conditioned realities take hold of our minds and we develop inflated egos in reaction to our social conditioning. So then, with the ego, we base our self-worth on how we fit in to our socially imposed reality, i.e., how we are perceived and if we’re better than other people because of our possessions or whatever. Bottom line is that the ego develops because our social reality is based on comparison to others.

This core self is our true self. We spend our whole life trying to cover it up with material goods and external validation and our egos. It is what we are. I don’t know how else to put it. It is what some people have called the soul. The crazy thing is that everyone at their core, underneath all the nonsense and social conditioning, is positive and fun. This is what people mean when they say “there’s a little good in everyone”. That core, childlike self that exists under all our layers – the “inner child”. And I’m trying to figure out how to liberate it.

Isn’t it amazing, though, that as we look back on our childhoods, it turns out that we were happy almost the entire time, and getting angry or sad for a few moments didn’t really affect us in the long-term? Like, after we were a little upset after falling down and hurting ourselves, we suddenly reverted back to our state of happiness.

I had an epiphany because of that thinking. And this is huge, like life changing huge. Here it is: happiness should be a default state of mind. Not something that goes in waves. Just like when you were a kid and all you wanted to do was have fun. And you amused yourself by doing whatever you did that you had fun. I know I played imagination hockey games in my living room for quite a while when I was 5, 6, and 7. I just played and had fun and was damn happy about my life, because that’s all I knew. I didn’t care about what other people thought. I just wanted to have fun, no matter the cost. All of us, as kids, unconsciously realized that having fun in the moment was our highest priority. And, you know what, in that respect, many 5 year olds are wiser than adults.

At this point, you probably think I’m on some quest to find the fountain of youth of yore. And, to a point, that is entirely true: I’m trying to find a way to tap back in to our core, away from all the ego and socially imposed nonsense. Ultimately, tapping into the core is as easy or as hard as stripping away all those layers is, and taking responsibility for your life – deciding who you are going to be. And, for those who think their personality traits are fully ingrained in their “core”, I don’t really mean it that way. The core is, for all intents and purposes, sheer positivity. It is your love for life. That’s the best way I can put it. From then on, it’s up to you to decide who you want to be, and here’s the key: you have to decide it because YOU like it. Not what I say or anyone else says. You have to decide and take responsibility for how you want to be.

I only know what works for me because I’ve felt a hole in breast whenever I do something that I know is against my values, like lying, cheating, stealing, whatever. Hopefully the people who read this and take my advice have a code of morality and have standards instead of moral relativism.

Going back to my story, isn’t it strange how my periods of contentment and depression rolled in cycles? Like I started out in independence, then slowly started drifting into socially imposed self-worth, then a total loss of identity. And then I slowly asserted my independence, then drifted towards more external validation, and then a total loss of identity. But I’ve broken the cycle, and I’m crafting my identity out here, in this post.

If society has been telling us that we’re not enough to achieve happiness, and that’s wrong, what is the right answer? WE ARE ENOUGH. You have enough within you to create happiness and have other people like you. Your faculties are enough to get you through just about anything life throws at you. Think of how powerful humans are: we are the best overall athletes of any animal (if we got into a competition with other animals, with events like sprinting, distance running, swimming, jumping, and so on, we’d have the best overall score), we have the most powerful minds of any other animal – more powerful than any supercomputer (we can decipher subtle body language and facial expressions and we have language), and we can direct our energy to anything we want it to. All of us are human, and as such, barring genetic predispositions to terrible diseases and the like, we can all maximize our potential and be the people we want to be. It’s just a matter of stepping up and making the decision to maximize your potential, to claim your inheritance as a human being. You can become the person you want to be. It’s just a matter of believing in yourself and taking action. This is my goal here: becoming the person I want to be, free from external influences, recognizing that, to be truly happy, you MUST draw happiness from yourself, not from the environment.

I repeat: to be truly happy, you must draw happiness from yourself, not from your environment or anything external. You must draw that state of positivity from within, because you truly like yourself, and accept yourself for who you are. I cannot emphasize this enough. Happiness cannot come from something good happening to you, or whatever. You must generate it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: in the next part of this post, I’m going to outline exactly who I want to be, and show what things I’m going to do to become that guy. Everything that I project for myself will be within my potential, for my potential is infinite. Hence, I sincerely believe that I will be able to evolve into the person whose qualities I’ll outline in the next section. I will be uncompromising in my vision, again, because I trust in my potential and my ability to become the type of person who I want to be. Luckily for me, I am pleased with myself on a general level and don’t require a drastic personality change. But I would like a blueprint of sorts, a general plan to build myself.

One last thing before I start with creating my identity. I wouldn’t have changed any of the choices I’ve made so far in life for anything. I have no regrets, and realize that everything that has happened to me has been vital in my growth as a person. Looking back, it is truly incredible how critical every experience I’ve had has been to understanding my life as I look back on it now. It’s all been worth it, because I can now look back on it here and know what I’ve done wrong. And now I have a chance to redeem myself in a way, to take back the life I let succumb to society’s hand for so long. Everything that’s happened is something that I can reference in the future. And, certainly, my experiences have brought me here. And, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than right here, aware that I am enough and that I can become the man I want to be, especially while still very young. Most people never find out what I know, and those who do usually don’t do it until adulthood.

PART 3: POTENTIAL

Crafting myself is a monumental task, merely because it is so all-encompassing. The hardest thing to do is choose where to start!

I, after serious amounts of thinking (what do you think I’ve been doing for upwards of 9 months), have decided that I have to start internally – from my mindset of life. My mindset defines how I see things in life and how I act – notice I didn’t say I reacted to things. I merely act. (More on action vs. reaction in a later post…)

Perhaps the best way to tackle this is to list out the traits that I’d like to have, and then write how my mindset affects those things.

Here we go.

Anatomy of Me

I. Foundations

First and foremost is independence, which has wide-ranging ramifications. This includes decisiveness, which is born of the realization that 1) I trust my instincts to make the right decision in any situation, and 2) No one is going to make my decisions for me, nor do they have any right to. Independence also means that, no matter what, I will go for what I want. It means that I realize that I hold the reins on my life, and no one else does – I direct it. It also means that I am free from others’ influence unless I agree with them, and they bring perspective.

Independence also branches into integrity. Integrity, is being consistent within my defined set of values, or being true to myself. It is the foundation from which honesty is built on. In other words, honesty is but a symptom of integrity – integrity involves not only saying things that are true to my beliefs and values, but acting in congruence with them as well. A person with integrity acts in accordance with their beliefs, again, regardless of whatever external influences there are.

Independence and integrity are solid foundations to build myself on, as they are the abilities to act separately from others and be congruent with my values, respectively. But they do not say anything about my values and the traits I want; a foundation is great but it is not a substitute for a house in any way, shape, or form.

So let’s delve deeper and discover what I value and what my personality traits are like.

II. Values

First and most important value: I am in love with life. Or fun, either one works – they’re totally interchangeable. I love this place, man! It’s awesome. I am literally master of my domain. Every second, I choose whether or not I’m having fun, or whether I feel good, or if I feel sad or if I want to do whatever. What I want to do, more concretely, is to make every possible experience, thought, action, whatever, as fun and full of awesome-ness as possible. This is the mark of a fun-loving person and I’m adopting that right now. Too many people are stuck in the mundane, walking through life in a daze. I want to break out of it by having as much unabashed fun as possible. I recognize that I have the power in myself to accomplish this – just to be as fun as possible in every possible moment. The fun loving mindset looks at a situation and thinks, “Another moment, another opportunity for excitement and chaos. What can I *possibly* do to do that…?” as a sly grin creeps across its face. And then it takes action, of course. Please note that I mean “chaos” in the best way possible, like breaking out in song or dancing or yelling at the top of my lungs something as ridiculous as “NIMMMMMMMMBUSSSSSSSS!!!!!” That’s the kind of chaos I want to be creating. Another thing to call this: super charisma.

This provides a nice segue into my next core value (which isn’t really a value, it’s more of a way to act): living in the moment and for the moment. This is huge, on so many levels. In this moment, like I said above, I can do whatever I want, because in this moment or any other moment, I define how I act. In this moment, I can be the man I want to be. By just being present (living in the moment), we do ourselves and the people we’re around a great service, as we are near-euphoric (though a little subdued), focused on fun, authentic, and just are plain better at everything we do when we’re present. It literally feels like nothing can go wrong when you’re in a present state. Being present also allows us to shrug off and ignore things that are unhelpful or would damage us if we allowed them to – we go with the flow when we’re present as well. Things that would throw us off when we’re stuck in our head roll off us when we’re present. Obviously, being present is something I’d love to make a habit. I’ve heard that this is easily achieved (or, I should say, more easily achieved) when meditation is incorporated into one’s daily routine, so I’ve made the resolution to meditate twice a day, morning and night, for 20 minutes each.

The next value is being curious about life as well as being knowledgeable – maximizing the potential that my brain has. I want near-infinite knowledge, or, at least, I’ll spend my time honing my logical skills and gathering new knowledge about just about anything. At the very least, I want to be a polymath of sorts – a jack-of-all-trades. I want to be able to have a solid discussion with someone about just about anything conceivable. This is, in fact, possible, as I have a very natural curiosity about everything. I love history, literature, art, and all of the sciences – they’re all so very interesting to me! It’s going to be hard deciding what I want to do in the future since I’ve always been good and interested in every subject in school – at this point, my choices are either being a lawyer or some chemistry-related science occupation (Biochemistry/Chemical Engineering/Materials Science/Chemistry are all very very interesting to me). Those are the things I want to be, though I’m leaning more towards science. Regardless, I trust that I will get into something I love. Getting back to my goal for knowledge, it really is as simple as the desire to broaden my knowledge, just because I’m so damn curious about everything!

Next value is health. I intend to be healthy and reach the apex of my potential, fitness wise. I’m going to try and stay as healthy and strong as possible, eating healthy and supplementing right. In order to be my best, my body needs to be like a well-oiled machine, with plenty of rest and nutrients. Healthy, to me, means this: mens sana in corpore sano, or a healthy mind in a healthy body. Being healthy, in my case, means a non-negotiable 8 hours of sleep per night; 4 balanced, healthy meals, with no “cheat” (read: unhealthy) foods; extensive exercise 6 days per week; and adequate stretching of all body parts to keep me limber and get rid of my annoying back problems (slight soreness). My training will consist of pushing my body in ways it can’t imagine – I really want to become a true athlete that is strong and agile, focusing on a lean, strong, limber body rather than a bulky, more muscle-bound one.

An off-shoot of health is temperance: not indulging in too much, nor too little of anything, whether it’s drugs, food, alcohol, whatever. The key is to do nearly everything in moderation. That is the secret to good health.

I also value creativity, both in myself and others. It’s funny how now that I’m free (or partially free) from the Matrix that is social conditioning, I have a sudden need to really express myself, so I can have something I can really pour my soul into. This, from now on, will be my writing – primarily whatever I come up with and put up on this blog (read: will mainly be fiction, and some stuff like this for mindset and stuff like that, as well as periodic assessments of my life). I want to really harness my creative juices and, well, create worlds and characters and whatever my mind decides to do. I’m looking forward to it. Moreover, I expect to encourage others to get creative as well, and will never trash anyone’s work of art, which is what everyone’s creative products really are. I will praise them for the efforts and give a little criticism when the situation calls for it, but, in life in general, I shall adhere to the rule of giving at least as much praise as criticism, and hopefully more (praise).

This brings me to my next value: in dealing with people, I want to be welcoming, not just tolerant. I want to be warm and let my good, happy feelings about life pour into other people when in contact with them. I do not want to grudgingly make conversation with people, I want to enjoy it for the connection that it brings. Obviously, with my mistrust of people, it will be hard to do at first, but by actively bringing out the good in people with my good demeanor, I think I will succeed in eliciting awesome interactions with people, preferably by linking with them through my interests (or their interests; most people have things in common). To get past my inherent distrust, I have already acknowledged that people have much more in common than they do differences, and seeing myself in other people will take me past my fear of them – because that’s what my distrust is: it’s fear. And now that I’ve identified it as fear, I just see it as silly and unwarranted.

Know what helps out with other people, too? A killer sense of humor. That, I already have – I have a very distinct sense of humor. It’s very dark, sarcastic, and makes a ton of movie references and double entendres. All I need to do is hone and calibrate my sense of humor a little bit, so I don’t have to think, and I just say it – again, just staying in the moment. For the most part, I’m satisfied with this, but I just need to flesh it out a bit more.

Helping people is awesome, unless it is CLEARLY in my interest not to do so. Not in the classical selfish sense, but if being generous would hold me back in any real way (only “real way” I can think of is if it involved me sacrificing something I absolutely needed, like essential food, clothing and money), then I couldn’t do it. I can’t emphasize this enough though: taking the time or even money to help someone doesn’t cost much at all. What, you’ll lose part of your day or a fraction of your paycheck? You can get that back pretty easily! My hard and fast rule for generosity will be this: as long as my being is not going to be harmed by my helping, I’m going to help people out emphatically – since I’m not focused on their approval, I’m focused on making myself feel good because of my values. It’s amazing when you realize that YOU ARE ENOUGH to give you happiness, because, how I look at it, you’re not as concerned about giving up your time and effort to help others. Before, you look at it as, “Oh I need my time and effort so I can spend my time distracting myself with X, Y, and Z since I can only derive happiness from my life when they’re around.” Now I can see it as an opportunity to spread the feeling of fun and love of life around. At the same time, I will be ruthless in dealing with people who are manipulative and just looking for a handout – I won’t honor their requests. Now, if someone sincerely needs help and it’s a one-time or two-time thing, no big deal. But I have been manipulated before by people who are nothing but “takers” – and it’s really draining, especially when they’re not truly grateful.

Next value is justice, which represents fairness and moral responsibility. Obviously my ethics are too extensive for me to elaborate on even though this post is absolutely massive in scope, so I shall refrain from outlining them. Justice is, to me, representing ethical goodness through actions. Thus, the just person will treat everyone fairly and equally regardless of who they are (there are some exceptions, of course). My biggest ethical rule is following liberty: I, or anyone else, reserve the right to do as I please as long as it doesn’t infringe on others’ liberty directly. This also involves, of course, being respectful to anyone and everyone – stayin’ classy.

One last value: dedication. Dedication means that I will finish everything I start with gusto. I’ll pour my heart and soul into everything I do, and will do everything at my absolute best – no excuses. This also includes consistency – I will commit unwaveringly from a plan of action, which includes the values I’ve outlined in this post. Overall, dedication is synonymous with ‘honor’.

That wraps up the values, I think – I can’t think of anything that I would value that wouldn’t overlap with anything that I’ve already said.

III. Core Beliefs/Axioms
The following are going to be a collection of beliefs that I have in my core that will integrate with my values. They are not as important as my values, but still are critical to my identity and outlook on life.

-I am enough.

-I trust myself to get me through anything that happens to me.

-I cannot judge others, because I cannot know anyone like I know myself, no matter how well I seem to know them. All I can hope for is that I bring out peoples’ best, and judge them on that.

-No one gets out of here alive. Seize the day!

-I feel good all the time – or at least I should. Why? I’m alive.

-Consistency > Perfection

-I treat my life as if it was a work of art. I will maximize its beauty while acknowledging the flaws do not detract to the work, but add to its character. There is no “perfect” work of art.

-When drawing people into my reality, don’t force it (overt communication), just let them fall into it (covert communication). People won’t like it if I’m forcing their reality to break – rather, I should let theirs melt away.

-He who has the strongest reality wins.

-“Take hold lightly; let go lightly.” (Spanish proverb)

-“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” (Marcus Aurelius)

-“The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” (Confucius)

-“As you think, so you shall become.” (Bruce Lee)

-“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.” (Voltaire)

-“Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.” (Richard M. Nixon)

-“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.” (Tyler Durden, Fight Club)

-“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” (Thucydides)

-“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” (Henry Ford)

-“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.” (John Barth)

These aren’t all the axioms I could produce. But they are the best for guiding me on my path towards… whatever it is. Greatness. The good life. Happiness. Abundance.

THE CODE

When tying all these things together, I will get something that is, inevitably, a code that, with steadfast observance of its rules, will make me into the man whose qualities I have outlined above. Out of everything I have written here, this is what will be the most enduring. Of course, I will be able to make amendments to it in the future, and it should be interesting to see it evolve. But the core will always remain the same. Here we go:

I. I am enough. My happiness comes from within.

II. I will exercise my free will and pursue my own path in life, regardless of what others say or think.

III. I trust myself to get me through life.

IV. I will speak and act from the unfettered soul – i.e. be authentic. I do not seek to please others. My true self is the only thing I need to present in order to be liked and successful.

V. I live in the moment. I live each moment as though it were my last.

VI. I finish everything I start.

VII. I assume nothing.

VIII. I find everything to be interesting – I take a natural curiosity in everything I observe and encounter.

IX. I love life to the fullest extent. This is why I seek to maximize fun and excitement in each moment; it is a celebration of the gift of life.

X. I will do everything in my power to stay healthy by being temperate and eating healthy foods consistently (no cheat foods!).

XI. I will not be satisfied with anything less than my best effort.

XII. I respect everyone as I respect myself. I treat them with honor.

XIII. I will continually seek to expand my knowledge.

XIV. My actions are congruent with my words and my intentions.

XV. I recognize that I’m very witty, charismatic, and humorous, and that part of me will always present itself when I’m being authentic.

XVI. I take what I want.

XVII. I will focus on cultivating my creative side.

XVIII. I recognize that things are what they are. If things aren’t going well for me, or someone is being annoying or rude, I just say to myself, “It is what it is,” and move on. I don’t fret over things I have no control over; I let the chips fall where they may.

XIX. I will continually push myself to the edge – for that is the way to make progress. If I fear doing something, I will look fear in the eye, acknowledge its presence, and do it anyway.

XX. I dedicate my life to a lifetime of mastery – mastering any skill that I acquaint myself with during my journey. In doing so, I recognize that most of my life will be spent on the plateau: I will appear to be static, not making any progress. But I recognize that it’s on the plateaus where I have to practice the most in order to progress and reach the next plateau. At the same time, I will always love to practice, whatever it is, for the sake of practicing; I will not be outcome dependent.

That is my code for life, and I swear on my life that I will uphold its rules every single day.

Afterword

That’s it. The journey has ended, but there is a beginning as well. From now on, I will be the one who is forging my path, not others. I will be the one deciding my fate, for I am the hero in my life’s story. And boy, am I ready to play the hero.

I thank you, reader, if you have reached the end of this and read what I wrote. It totals over 9,000 words. But brevity was not a concern of mine: I wanted this to be long, since I practically poured out my soul into this blog post (though it took me 3 days to write). This is, unquestionably, the best thing I have ever written, since I have poured my naked soul into it, on display for others to see. May I stand proud, because, as I have so emphasized, I am enough.

The Prince

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2009 12:18 am

    are you seriously just 16??? i thought you’re like 30+!

    to be honest, i did not read your entire post. however, i really enjoyed reading the part about yourself. (if it’s really you, i’m still having a hard time believing you’re 16.) i kind of get the message of your post, since you have mentioned it briefly in your other posts.

    i don’t know if i’m socially conditioned to believe that i’m not enough. perhaps, since i do love to shop and own things. and i am always trying to get people to like me, though not to the extent of being a doormat. and yes, i feel upset when i think people don’t like me. maybe it’s social conditioning… but i actually deep down sort of believe in it? that’s to say, i could make myself think that it doesn’t matter if my co-workers don’t like me as long as i like my job, but it makes going to work unbearable at times, knowing that i’m being surrounded by people who do not like my presence.

    let me give your post a little more thought.

  2. August 1, 2009 1:00 am

    Yep, I’m just 16 years old. I feel like a man trapped in a boy’s body, in lots of ways. The writing style comes from tons of reading – from books to articles.

    Anyway, your case sounds like typical social conditioning. Deep down, you believe it, because that’s all you’ve ever known. You feel like you need external validation, whether it’s from the environment (material possessions) or from other people, in order to feel truly happy. That is not healthy and isn’t, as far as I’m concerned, the way to go through life – at the mercy of our environments (at least in modern times; cavemen were subjected to environmental concerns). And you, oftentimes, rationalize that people don’t like you because you think they won’t; a condition borne of low-self esteem. And low self esteem is, again, from socially conditioned beliefs that YOU AREN’T ENOUGH!

    And it truly doesn’t matter if other people like you or not – there will always be people who hate you. Fact of life. The real question is: do you like yourself?

  3. August 1, 2009 5:08 am

    gah, you’ve just turned my world upside down! i really find it hard to believe you’re 16…

    anyway, that is a question i find very difficult to answer. if it’s a yes or no thing, then i would be leaning towards no. but if you allow me to elaborate, then there are things that i like about myself and things that i don’t. i like my passionate nature, my love for reading, my appreciation of things that i appreciate. i dislike my temper, my lack of social skills, my fatness. do i enjoy my own company? only to a certain extent. i like being by myself in the early morning, but after that i like company.

  4. thebeadden permalink
    August 1, 2009 2:07 pm

    I have to go out for the afternoon. This will be the first thing I read when I get back. I just skimmed…16. My goodness! Take a bow, Leap. I am still in shock…

  5. thebeadden permalink
    August 2, 2009 1:53 am

    What could I possibly say? Other than I am amazed at your insight and that you are all of 16 years old.

    And, to be honest it is the jerks women are attracted to at this age and then when we grow up, it is people just like you they are searching for. Don’t ever think you will not find someone, and when you do. Believe me, she will thank her lucky stars.

    Being an intellect on top of all this (which was already quite obvious since I’ve had the pleasure of ‘knowing’ you). AND you play hockey! Are you for real? 🙂

    You amaze me, you really do. I’m happy that you have shared so much of yourself here. You are going places…

    I hope we are all still around blogland so we can see where things go. But I’ve no doubt you’ll do what ever you set your mind to. Best of luck, Leap.

  6. August 2, 2009 2:30 am

    @ Sulz: All those things that you don’t like about can be changed with the application of willpower. Don’t like your temper? Stop yourself when you feel your rage coming through. Lack of social skills? Start associating with people more. Tired of being fat? Get a gym membership. Still, you have been socially conditioned to believe that we NEED others’ association to be happy. Not true. We have to generate happiness from the inside, then spread it around.

    @Bead: I hardly get to take credit for the vast majority of the ideas presented here, they are all from a hodgepodge of sources that I’ve read in my quest for self-improvement. I just applied them to my own life.

    And my view on women is this: they are attracted to masculine men. Jerks just happened to be the most masculine men at the time – they are loose cannons, so to speak. But what’s worse than the jerks are the nice guys – the guys that are like my former self. Doormats, doing everything “romantic”, forsaking their personal dignity, living forever in fear, supplicating, and submissive – all to look better in the eyes of women. They were raised on Disney movies, romantic comedies, and, of course, their mothers. And it’s pathetic to see how I used to act (I wasn’t as bad as many though) and how many many people fell into the same traps I have. It’s really sad. That’s as far as I’m going to say in one comment.

    And personally, I recognize that there are literally at least 5,000 people that are “for me”. Except I don’t need these people to marry me. I just want to meet them and have fun, nothing more, nothing less. Why? Because I’m enough, and while that deep connection would be cool if it happened, I don’t need it to be supremely happy. So, like I said, I’m just going to take people for what they are, and let the chips fall where they may. Now, if there’s something I want, I’ll take it – Rule 16.

    Thanks for your well wishes, and yes, I am for real. Tomorrow I get up at 5:15 AM to play some hockey. After that I have to read some biology texts for my classes next year.

    I sincerely hope I’m going somewhere – again, I’m lost as to what to do because I have such diverse interests. But maybe that’s a good thing – I can just roll some dice and pick my field of expertise after college, and still be happy with my decision, since I love the concepts in all of the physical sciences.

  7. August 3, 2009 12:11 am

    of course i know i can do something about the things i’m not happy about. but it’s not as easy as repressing my anger, going out more and start exercising. you have to be committed to doing these things, and that’s where the difficult part is. maybe i’m making it complicated when it doesn’t have to be. but to overcome these things involve doing things that i don’t like, which is a major reason why i have not done it.

    what about that school of thought of accepting yourself as who you are? maybe i should accept my anger because it is the same fire that fuels my passion and dedication of what i love in my life.

  8. August 3, 2009 2:47 am

    Why not accept yourself as you are now? Fine, go ahead. But it takes just as much work to find self-acceptance as working on yourself. If you’re looking for a shortcut, you will not find one.

    If you’re going to sit around and piss and moan about your fat, your anger, and your introversion, and then turn around and complain that it’s too difficult to put some effort in to make improvements, then stop complaining. Pick one: shut up and put up with your low self-esteem, torturing yourself in the process, or decide to put some work into it and probably improve yourself. Yeah, some things in life are difficult. But, if happiness is the ultimate good, then isn’t that enough to work hard for?

    I may sound callous here, but that’s because I think you need a kick in the butt because you’re caught in this horrible cycle of complaining and position of helplessness that makes you think that changing yourself is impossible. It’s not. You need to work, and TRUST YOURSELF that you can work. Rule # III of The Code.

  9. thebeadden permalink
    August 3, 2009 2:58 pm

    Leap, you are right, I should have said masculine men and how true they are usually the ones who end up being jerks. Not always but more often. I wonder why?

    Oh…the nice guys. I remember one of my sisters ‘nice guys’ and how she treated him in her teens. We all felt so bad for him. She regrets that now. Won’t go into detail.

    You said:
    “And personally, I recognize that there are literally at least 5,000 people that are “for me”. Except I don’t need these people to marry me. I just want to meet them and have fun, nothing more, nothing less. Why? Because I’m enough, and while that deep connection would be cool if it happened, I don’t need it to be supremely happy. So, like I said, I’m just going to take people for what they are, and let the chips fall where they may. Now, if there’s something I want, I’ll take it – Rule 16.”
    Good for you!

    Someone very wise told me that only I could create my own happiness in life. That it is unfair to put that burden on other people and that I could never be truly happy if I wasn’t happy with myself first. It also cleared me of having to be responsible for other people’s happiness and feeling that I should. Not that I don’t like contributing to someone’s happiness, but to have to be the one to keep someone happy all the time, No thanks! I think that was one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given and I needed to hear it at the time.

    You are so fortunate that you can pick and choose what it is you want to do in life. I know someone like that. He was 16 or seventeen in University. (I’ll have to ask him again) It wasn’t a very good time for him as he was always the ‘outcast.’

    Very smart, not very happy. So much pressure from his family to be ‘something’ (He’s retired now) After trying to figure out what that was, he came to the conclusion he would never be happy with what was expected of him. He took time off to cross Europe on a bike, came back and took an outdoor job. Never regretted it. He could have been anything, but chose something that made him happy.

    I’ll have to add this blog to my Blogroll!

  10. August 3, 2009 3:47 pm

    Bead: Right, exactly. That advice is, essentially, you are enough. Awesome.

    I don’t have pressure from my family to “be something” – I put the pressure on myself to be something.

    And it’s funny that you mentioned traveling to Europe… More on that later.

  11. August 4, 2009 12:15 pm

    you’re not the first to tell me what you’ve said and you probably won’t be the last. your kick in my butt hurt, but i guess i fell right into your trap.

  12. August 4, 2009 12:24 pm

    on a second thought, i take back what i said just now. i’m glad that you’re happy with yourself and i wish you all the best in life. not that you need it, you seem to know what you want out of life and how to get it.

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