Shit has a funny way of creeping back up on you just when you think you’re done with it… I thought I had accepted my failures. I thought I had gone crazy, recovered to a certain extent, mourned lost chances, and then moved on.
I made a new friend/enemy (frenemy?) lately. Her name is V. She is a computer sciences researcher, and all-round lover of science. Also, an absolute genius. (We’re talking 100% scores in university here.) She may be one of the most fascinating and yet most awful people I have ever met. Fascinating because, how could I not like someone who is witty, amusing, extremely intelligent, and interested in nearly everything from the Silmarillion to modern art? And awful, because she is (gifted-ness and general success in life apart) so very much like I once was. I couldn’t resent anyone the happiness that I know that a life of science brings. I couldn’t. But she makes me realize things about myself, and that brings me to intensely dislike her.
V. is tactless and carelessly arrogant to the point of rudeness. Not with malicious intent, no, plain and simply because she feels she is superior. Because she sees her achievements as the standard people should try to live up to. She believes in complete honesty, discipline over emotions, achieving no matter the circumstances, high productivity. No self-pity. No whining. No room for weakness. And it’s not that she has never suffered; she had a mental breakdown too one year… yet she simply completed her exams while crying, and her score was still among the highest of her university.
Her vastly superior intellect doesn’t make her a perfect person, and rationally I know this. She has some serious issues with trust, nudity, correctly interpreting communication, accepting that stuff isn’t always in her control, and well… not making an enemy out of every person she interacts with, really. She has flaws like every other human being. So why do her careless comments hurt me so much? She doesn’t mean them to be hurtful, after all. They’re just… what she thinks is true.
And that’s it.
I am SO not over my failures. My failure at physics ruined my life. I’m not over it. Right now, I sincerely doubt I will ever be over it. I have zero sense of intrinsic self worth. I actually believe I am a lesser being for not being disciplined and gifted enough to be a scientist. I believe that people of low intelligence, like myself, are worth less per definition. Rationally I know this is bullshit. And the past years, I was told often enough that it’s bullshit to actually start believing it, a little bit. But V. has crushed my illusion, because she confirms every. single. thing. I think about myself as truth.
The funny thing is, V. actually likes me. She calls me a real friend, and since she’s so radically opposed to polite niceties, I do think she means it. She even says there are things about me she admires, namely how I am a “gentle, kind, and patient being.”
I still haven’t figured out if she meant that as a covered insult, or if she simply has no idea about the kind of person I am. Because I don’t consider patience and kindness traits I truly possess, nor traits that are all that admirable. It’s a bit like saying “I admire how you resemble the Elephant Man.”, or “I love how you are so skilled at folding underwear.” Everything that is useful and worthy (intelligence, discipline, zeal, passion, creativity, insight, etc…) are things I do not possess in her eyes. In other words, she used a compliment to say I am a nitwit.
My exams have started, and I cry almost all the time. This is the worst time of the year to start making discoveries about my inner self, really. The stress was already giving me symptoms again before, but now I’m barely holding myself together. Right now, the only thing that’s stopping me from cutting every inch of skin I can cover in summer is the shame I feel for my own weakness. Great, huh? I had my first exam today, I even think I did fairly well, and yet I came out crying like a sissy because it made me feel like shit. That’s the state I’m in, at the moment. Too ashamed of myself even to die.
I want my fucking dignity back.
You are gentle, kind, and patient. It shows in your writing. Keep the friend. Ask her for emotional support when you need it, so she can ask you for help, too.
I guess I’m doomed to it then; gentle, kind and patient it is. Maybe I can become a personal aide or something, or a waitress. -_-
(No, seriously? Am I really that much of a fail? I just want to know.)
In any case, I do want to keep the friendship. She’s a very interesting person and often quite nice to talk to. It’s me who has the problem, she’s just being herself. Besides, I would be even more ashamed of myself if I let my own weak character ruin a potentially great relationship.
Let’s try this:
One thing I’ve instructed my daughter is that she should always be honest and trustworthy – even to a fault – because on those rare occasions where dishonesty is required, she’ll need to know people will believe her despite evidence to the contrary.
So, if you’re gentle, kind, and patient, use that until you must be vicious, cruel, and impulsive. That way people won’t believe it when you act badly, and will choose to believe you better than you sometimes are.
All right, I was overreacting a little. There are many advantages to being an agreeable person, and I’m glad my parents raised me to be polite and respectful even to those who annoy me. It has saved me much drama I have no need for in my life. It’s complicated enough as it is.
My anger/displeasure just came from the situation. Given the kind of person V. is, I just don’t see why she would admire traits like patience and kindness. She gets in feuds and arguments with people all the time; I imagine that she would find being friendly to those who ruffle your feathers a weakness. That is why I was so put off by her comment.
Thank you for putting up with my childish response 🙂
I’m rearing a daughter. It’s expected.
I’m an adult woman, I should really know better. 🙂
I would like to add that I find your curio posts creative and witty. Also your mini-dissertations are insightful, well thought out and cogent. You may not be as smart as you’d like, but you’re clearly considerably above average.
Thank you… ^_^ *blushes*
My thoughts to your post, not systematic, just in random order, but I will number them for easier reference.
1 You are one the most intelligent persons I’ve ever met, so don’t worry about lacking intelligence, you can hold up with V. In terms of self discipline you can learn from her, maybe she can teach or help you, if she considers you as your friend.
2 V being honest probably will appreciate when you will be honest too. Consider being honest to her and discuss a few of the issues you brought up here. Tell her of your achievements from your physics study period so she will see that you have a superior mind too, not seeing you as inferior.
3 Did it ever come into your mind that the psychiatrist telling you “refrain from all kinds of physics and math” might be wrong? Try some cautious experiments with physics and math problems and observe your reactions to it. I think part of your complicated relationship with V comes from the fact that she does science and you are jealous about it, am I right, at least a few % ? And not having physics in your life makes you so unhappy, would make me too, being a physicist.
4 As she is so honest with you, use her as a reliable source of feedback. You can experiment with your behaviour and style and learn, how it changes your impression on her, you can optimize it then.
5 Be honest with her about not really being gentle and patient, but intelligently sadistic, this will be a test how far her friendship goes. Maybe she is even a bit like me (rational and sadistic), that could deepen your friendship.
Is there anything helpful for you in my thoughts? I hope so, because I admire so many sides of you!
Your thoughts were very helpful, as always. Thank you for them. You are definitely right about her discipline and my slight jealousy at her attitude and occupation; I both admire and envy her. In that context, you may be right about me needing to try some math again…
Also, your words flatter me. *blushes* I’m not sure I can agree with your assessment of my intellect, but in any case it’s pleasant to read that someone sees me as more than “sweet but use- and harmless”.
I have taken your advice concerning the honesty to heart, and it is working, I think. So far it has proven interesting, at least…
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