On One Hand

December 30, 2007

New Years’ Resolution

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 6:25 pm

When I talk about myself, it’s not because I think I’m that interesting. I talk about myself because I’m looking for input. I just want to figure myself out. I want to understand why I’m me and everyone else is everyone else, or why I have experienced what I have experienced and why everyone else’s experiences have been so comparatively different than my own. It might be a fallacy of subjectivity, but I think people talk to me for about ten seconds before they put me in a separate category. I want to know what that difference is – is it differences I chose or differences I just have? I don’t think I’ve had it worse than anyone else; it has all just been really different, often harder, sometimes easier, but mostly just different.

When am I going to fucking figure it out? I am 22 years old. You’ll say that life is a continuous process of figuring out who you are, and no one ever really comes to the answer, they just peel away the layers of an endless onion that continues to grow from the center. But eventually I’ll be working a career and raising children, and I won’t have time to constantly ask myself who I am; I’m going to need to focus on other things. So if I don’t come up with a working theory soon (and by “working” I mean, still in the process of figuring it out, but good enough for now), I’m going to delay my coming to maturity.

Somewhere along the line, I became extremely fucking competitive. I don’t know how; when I was a kid, I said I hated sports because it entailed mean-spirited competitiveness, and wondered why people couldn’t just get along. That’s when I was getting black eyes and bruises at school, so perhaps that instilled something in me – a sense that something was fundementally lacking and I’d need to compensate in other ways – so by the time I realized I could actually hold my own in a social situation if I just quit acting afraid, I was so self-evaluating that I had no choice but to try to pull ahead. Maybe. Or it could have been the fact that I grew up hearing that my IQ (whatever that is) was so far above average that performing similarly to my peers would actually be a pathetic faliure – yet somehow that only really hit me after coming to college. Maybe. All I know is that these last few years I’ve found myself to be concerned with being the best at everything and constantly compare my own success to the successes of other people.

My New Years Resolutions are this; to make friends for who they are rather than what they mean, and just trying to appreciate people as people. To stop (as much as is possible) comparing myself to other people, especially men, especially men who have the same interests or talents that I have. To stop trying to figure myself out and just be in the world with all the mysteries and intracacies of identity.

I spend so much time thinking and working on ethics, and in relationships, I wonder what it means when a person has different ethics than me. Should I be vegan or is vegetarian OK; what should be my attitude towards someone who has no problems with eating meat, or justifies it with what I consider to be weak or offensive moral arguments? Could I date or love someone who has different politics because they have different views about the poor, women, or racial minorities? Am I making every effort I possibly can to accomodate this person and forgive him or her for actions and choices he can’t control or doesn’t fully understand? Am I taking every possible opportunity to forgive and act out of compassion rather than emotions? Can I or should I fall in love with a person who doesn’t express that same compassion or understanding towards others – or do I assume that if he or she can’t be kind to everyone, he or she will eventually be just as intolerant towards me?

It’s such a perrenial dillema. It may seem closed-minded that I suggest I need someone to think like me to fall in love, but consider this: could you fall in love with someone who is openly racist? Who is openly sexist? If you are heterosexual, but have gay friends, would you date someone who doesn’t respect gays and lesbians? Could you date someone who thinks that non-Christians go to hell or says he or she would never be friends with a Muslim? We say we can tolerate differences, but these things are often just crossing the line; they indicate that the person we are talking to has fundemental differences in life philosophy, and could never fully respect our views.

For example, I was talking to a guy I was very interested in, who told me he supports Hillary but hates her healthcare plan because it “isn’t fair that just because I can afford to go to college I have to give up my money to pay for the healthcare of someone who doesn’t have it.” He explained, “the facts of life are, if you can’t afford health care, you don’t get it. Just because I went to college and someone else didn’t doesn’t mean its my job to pay when he gets cancer if the best he can do is work at McDonald’s.” He also opposed Social Security because he doesn’t want to pay for some “old bitches” to “live longer than their use.” It was patently offensive, but my feeling is that a majority of Americans would express this kind of attitude on some issue, if given the chance. We got along when it came to most conversations, and when we talked about politics, the focus was usually on social issues, on which we agreed since we were both gay. But this difference was a red flag. Would it indicate that he wouldn’t have the proper feelings towards me when I’m in a time of crisis? Who knows. But if I excluded any romantic interest who made some forehead-smacking comment resembling that, I’d have a pathetic few left to choose from.

One of my resolutions is going to be to try to make less of those differences. It’s a conclusion based on practicality, not on what I think is right; I can’t deal with these differences anymore. It would be my dream to find a cute vegetarian who beleives in giving people every benefit of every doubt and negotiated life on my level; there would be no doubt we understood each other and were truly peers. But that isn’t going to happen. People don’t feel good when I conspicuously disagree with their attitutes about something, and it reflects poorly on me.

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