Life does not consist mainly — or even largely — of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head.
– Mark Twain
Every now and then I find myself pondering, well, myself. I sometimes wonder if I am what I should be or if I am something other than what I think myself to be.
Yeah, that’s confusing. Let me see if I can explain.
I like to believe that I’m a fairly smart and enlightened fellow yet I don’t feel like that is true very often. My I.Q. has been estimated to be as high as 160, but simple mathematical word problems will give me fits, which makes me feel stupid. The only reason I accept that I am relatively smart is because people I trust tell me this is true, but there’s a certain amount of bias in that declaration because they (generally) like me which is probably why I trust them because they tell me things that encourage me to believe things about myself I want to believe anyway. That shows I have a certain amount of self-awareness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m as intelligent as I (or others) believe me to be. And I often wonder what difference it really makes how smart I am when I seem to be unable to figure out how to use it to be more successful than I am. There are people out there who are wildly more successful than I am that are arguably less intelligent than I am (based on their public personas at least) which would seem to be evidence that being smart has fewer practical applications than you might think or that I’m not as smart as I like to believe I am. Probably the latter over the former.
I also often wonder if I’m more shallow of a person than I realize. Usually that thought comes along after reading a particularly brilliant blog post from someone like Paul Sunstone over at Café Philos. I don’t even understand some of what he’s talking about in that entry which makes me realize just how little truly deep thinking I do. Decrepit Old Fool is another blogger who can leave me feeling somewhat inferior after reading his thoughts. Then I turn around and check out what’s trending on Twitter and my new-found fears about being too shallow usually quickly vanish. I may not be the deepest thinker in the world, but, damn, at least I’m not worried about what shoes someone wears or how snappy they dress as a yardstick for social interaction.
It’s not that I’m unhappy with myself — I have areas I’m working on, but overall I like me — just that I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking there is a person I’m supposed to be and that I’m not living up to that ideal. Just who determines what we’re supposed to be anyway? And what we’re supposed to be always seems to vary depending on who’s doing the telling. I’m past the half-way point in my life (assuming I don’t die early due to some sort of accident or a crazed stalker) and I’m old enough now to be able to look back at how foolish I was in my younger years. That implies that I’m wiser now than I was then, but some of my flaws wouldn’t bear that conclusion out. At 43 years of age I still think I’d like to be an actor, which is what I thought I wanted to be at one point in my youth, but I don’t believe I have the talent, looks, or the motivation to actually pursue that career. I’m a PC technician because that’s what I’m good at doing, not because I had an overwhelming desire as a child to become one. My ability to plan for the long term has never been something I was good at and it shows in the meandering path my life has taken over the years. If I were as smart as I’m told that I am you’d think I’d take the time to get better at planning and yet I don’t have the motivation to do so even though I can recognize the ways in which it will negatively impact my life in the future. For example, I’ll probably never be able to retire at the rate I’m going.
Honestly, I’m not even sure why I bother thinking about stuff like this. As I said, it’s not that I’m unhappy with myself as a person, so why all the mini-angst about what could have been or things I’m probably not capable of being? It’s like my mind is looking for things to be unhappy about for no good reason. Almost like it sees all these other people around me who are scrambling to live up to some ideal they have about themselves and being upset when they fail to do so so it thinks I should be doing the same thing. It probably says a lot about me that I’m not that upset that I’m not all I could be, but it seems a lot less stressful than what a lot of other folks are doing.
This is another in a long line of not-sure-what-the-hell-I’m-trying-to-say entries so it probably doesn’t make much sense, but there you go.