Monday, July 22, 2013

Tread Softly

This past week has been a really shitty week. It’s made me realize that I’m a 21st century fuck up. Now let me explain:

Perhaps it was because I was born first, maybe it was because of my shitty time in high school and middle school. Regardless, I have found that if I am not perfect I hate myself for it.  If I don’t get 1st place, do the best, be liked by everyone, I hate myself.

Being perfect isn’t easy these days either because, with a quick Google search, you can find out the person who is best in their field. Best Hot Dog Eater: Joey Chestnut, Best Pok√©mon Video Game Player: Ray Rizzo, Best Director: John Ford, Best Juggler: Doug Sayers, Best Writer, Shakespeare, Best Farter, Big Frank Mayhew (Yes, it exists).

During the tumultuous times that were my childhood, I often sought solace in the comfort of computers, video games, and movies. I surfed the calm accepting waters of the internet and found, ironically, that it was a safe place for me. There was acceptance in anonymity and I could accomplish things by skill alone and didn’t have to be social. It was rewarding to accomplish something on the net like run a fully functional Ebay account buying broken PlayStations, fixing them, and selling them for a profit at age 14 with only an email address and no credit card. Beating video games made me feel good about myself because it meant I accomplished something. Movies were, and still are, a great escape because I can just throw myself in and forget my life for a few hours. So whenever times get hard for me I retreat to the internet or video games or moves to help me get through whatever weirdness is happening in my life.

Something I have learned in my time on the web is that, believe it or not, the internet has rules. It’s an ever-growing and expanding list of rules, but there are 47 that originated on the popular bulletin board site 4chan that are considered to be THE rules. The Commandments of the internet, if you will. For my more conservative readers, forgive the citation of this upcoming rule, but I promise I’m making a point. Internet Rule 34 states that: “If it exists, there is a porn of it.” Which, for better or for worse, is pretty much entirely accurate.

I have found for myself is very similar to this rule: Joey’s Rule 34a: If it exists, someone is better than you at it.

As a perfectionist, this is maddening.

One of my favorite books of all time is East of Eden by John Steinbeck . It is a huge sweeping book covering the lives of two families in Salinas Valley, California, and means to be an analogy for the “Eden” story in the bible. Without giving too much away, there are 2 brothers who are meant to represent Cain and Able (that pretty much gave everything away). It’s fascinating what Steinbeck does with these characters, but in the end the older brother drives himself insane in trying to be perfect, and that has always haunted me. I feel that I have to be perfect. If  I make a mistake, I’m done. If I am not number one, nothing I did was meaningful. As I think these words and type these sentences I hear how absurd they sound but I still believe them to be true.

In a culture that is obsessed with rewarding mediocrity, it’s easy to be lulled into a sense of self-confidence. I mean I understand giving kid’s confidence in themselves, and I am not pretending to know how to be an educator, but I do know this: Because of the “reward” system that I was taught with in my schooling, I do not think I have done a good job unless I am rewarded. Say what you will about the pros and cons of the system, but the fact is that I don’t feel good about anything I do unless I am rewarded for it, and for me that messes with my head because I get depressed and feel worthless if someone doesn't tell me good job or if I make a mistake.. When in reality, making mistakes is ok.

I type it and yet I still don’t believe it.

For a long time I thought I had to please others because pleasing others would make me worth something in their eyes. I wasn’t sure of what my image was or what I wanted to be, so I tried to be something I thought people wanted me to be, because if everyone was happy, no one would hate me and I could be perfect. But I’m finding that living for others just makes me unhappy with myself because then I’m not true to my ideals and I’m giving my mind, my most precious asset, to someone else.

I moved to New York to find work but also to find myself, and I am. It’s a great city to do it in too because I am being tested in so many ways. I welcome it because it’s making me a confident person. I am more comfortable with myself, positives and negatives. And I am more ready to face my faults and make myself a better person. So here, for all to see, I am listing what I consider to be my  greatest faults, in no particular order, so I can better face them:

Number One: I am socially awkward and shy.
Number Two: I’m a mediocre director.
Number Three: I’m not that great at running my production company.
Number Four: I put others needs before my own.
Number Five: I have virtually no love life because I push people away when they get close.
Number Six: I don’t work very hard once I get comfortable
Number Seven: I don’t listen well… at all.
Number Eight: I have major trust issues.

I was talking with friends last night and someone I met named Jesse gave forth this brilliant nugget of advice: “As soon as you accept what makes you sexy, other people will see it. But until you see yourself as sexy, people won’t either.” It’s very Confucian in its wisdom. Be confident in yourself, and other people will believe it. Be unconfident with yourself, and other people will believe it. Until Next Time!

"But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet"

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