Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Relearning Life is Hard

I've been reading a lot over the last few months about assertiveness and how to be assertive and how to be confident.  I got angry at a lot of what I read because why I am I giving my attention to something that I can't figure out how it applies to me?  Self-help books usually make me angry and frustrated.  I don't particularly like reading them.  Well, I just found this blog post:

The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck

It's the best thing I've read so far on the topic, and it doesn't even deal directly with assertiveness.  I think because if you do these things in the blog, then everything else will follow.  Not caring about things (not worrying) allows for assertiveness and confidence.  Is it possible that my problem is not assertiveness or lack of confidence?  People tell me I need to be more assertive and confident, but when I ask myself that, I feel like I'm always a confident person.  There are situations where I may question myself, especially if it involves sharing food (that's my quirk, so I'm not worried about it), or imposing on other people.  I may seem non-assertive because I don't press an issue if I don't think I can win the battle.  I don't bet unless I know I'm going to win..or lose.  The transition in cultures (north vs south; academia vs. office work; rural vs. urban; American vs. Indian) which all occured to me around the same time, made it super confusing for me to figure out what is right and what is wrong.  I had to change my thinking on so many things. Somethings I thought I knew all about, were clearly unimportant in the South.  Like UofM vs. State.  No one knows what you are saying when you say UP, they think you are saying Yoopee.  I had to learn what the SEC is, and why Texas is important.  I had to live in an individualistic culture but work for community based cultures.  Turns out being a "real" adult in a "real" job is a lot more restrictive and child-like than being a student in grad school.  Hell, what does it even mean to be treated as an adult?  I went from working with people my own age and one experienced professor to working with no one my age and tons of experienced people.  The south does not understand dry humor nor facing a "bad" "shameful" situation face on.  It's better to go around it and not hurt anybody...it's all part of their politeness rules.  The South is so polite, but the northerners (Yankees as they call them) are mean and short.  But really, it just takes the southerners longer to be mean...they live in a slower paced culture.  I think it's got a lot more to do with the weather than we realize.  Who wants to have a lazy chat about the weather in a 0 degree blizzard?  But in 90 degree 90% humidy weather, you ain't gonna be moving very fast.

It's no wonder I lack confidence in know what to do in situations.  Every situation for the last five years has been brand new to me.  I've had to relearn everything.  Which gets me to a point I want to make,  most everything in that blog I posted above I learned in high school. I believed it in high school.  It's the summation of my teen years, only far better written and thought out.  How frustrating is it that I have to re-learn everything I already knew about life?  And I'm suspicious that I will have to do this every decade or so.  That this is just part of life.  I wonder if meditation makes it easier, it gives you  more time to think and work through these things.

Here is a list of things I've improved on since moving:

1.  Making small talk with strangers on the street, in the store, behind the counter
2.  Driving on expressways and on busy roads
3.  Driving to new places I've never been...without a proper map (or phone).
4.  Not worrying about all the people around me in public places and if they are looking at me....I think this is better expressed as: I'm now used to being around people.
5.  People watching
6.  Cooking greens and beans
7.  Understanding what a suburb really is like
8.  Caring about college football - ROLL TIDE!
9.  Listening to people talk about their home state.  I think this is important to do, as it is a way to help them work through homesickness. I listened to a girl the other day at a dinner talk about Michigan b/c she just moved from there.  I really liked that and I was proud of myself for not butting in.  The purpose isn't to teach people about your homestate but for the speaker to try and bring home closer to them.
10.  A deeper understanding of how important animal rescuing is to people.

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