From Another Planet

November 3rd, 2010 by admin | Print From Another Planet

Prompt:  Something you love about yourself.

Today’s post is on a happier topic, though clearly, I’m still thinking too much about yesterday’s “hate” prompt, because today’s entry is about a personal trait that I have a love/hate relationship with.  I suppose this is what happens when you pose a challenge like this to someone who is very self-critical!

The trait I speak of is the fact that I seem to have an entirely different world view than almost everyone around me. I’m pretty sure it’s due to a combination of my alternative schooling, the hands-off approach to parenting I was raised with, being an only child, and my own weirdness, but whenever I talk about anything “deep” (life, love, society, etc), it’s as if I was raised on a different planet from the person I’m having the discussion with.  It’s not that I disagree with them, it’s that I have difficulty understanding how they came to their current viewpoint, or why they think that way.  It’s a bit as if I grew up in a bubble that I didn’t know existed.  I’ll give you a few examples:

I don’t understand…

...why people stay in jobs they hate any longer than is absolutely necessary. So many people stay in jobs they hate for years without even once trying to find something else.  Why would you do that to yourself?  There’s always something else out there.  It may take sacrifice, but there’s something out there for everyone.

…why people can’t see through the obvious conformity messages of society. Whenever I hear “I *have* to have that!” I think “Why?” in my head.  I don’t understand how most people can’t see through the blatant messages of society about how men and women should look and act, how lives should be run, and what you should strive for.  How is this not totally obvious everyone, and for those who DO notice, why do they frequently still comply?

…why people would spend years studying something they’re not passionate about. I feel incredibly lucky to have gone to a college where everyone studied what they were passionate about.  When I hear about people who study things like business, or law, or engineering not because they actually are interested in those subjects, but because they think it will make them money, it makes me very sad.  I don’t understand why you would do that to yourself.

...why people take issue with the choices of others (assuming it has no effect on them). Why should my neighbor’s choice of sexual lifestyle bother me any more than their choice of house paint color?  If anything, the paint should bother you more, since you have to see it every day!  Why do people make fun of the Amish, or people in tiny NYC apartments, or those who live in an RV?  They’re doing what makes them happy, and it doesn’t effect anyone else, so why degrade them?  I don’t get it.

…why people think one lifestyle is superior to another. Want to be a hermit in a yurt in Mongolia?  Great!  Want to be a famous socialite in LA? Great!  Want to live in a small house and work from home so you can be with your kids?  Great!  Want to work 60 hours a week in a law office and have a loft apartment in NYC?  Great!  As long as whatever you’re doing makes you happy, who the hell has the authority to tell you that what you’re doing is any better or worse than what anyone else is doing?  Nobody, that’s who.

…why people can’t take criticism. It’s someone else’s opinion.  Just like any other opinion, you can take it or leave it.  Why is criticism seen as such a bad thing?  If someone criticizes me, I think about what they had to say, think about whether they might have a point or not, and then choose to listen to or disregard the advice accordingly.  Why is that so hard for most people?

…why people connect education with ability, or experience with ability. It drives me insane when I see people make the assumption that just because someone hasn’t formally studied or worked in a given field, that they can’t possibly be good at it.  I know writers who have never been published in their lives who are better than many of the salaried reporters that I read in the Washington Post every day.  I know amateur architects who can innovate better than folks who have been in the field for 15 years and who went to architecture school.  I get told all the time by other professional photographers that my work is excellent and that I have the right skills and personality for correspondent work, and yet because I’ve never formally done work for anyone in the past, I’m unlikely to get such work in the future.

…why people don’t see that your life is what you make it. Really, it is.  You can do pretty much anything with your life if you’re willing to make the requisite sacrifices.  People love to say they can’t do things, when really, they can, but they’re not willing to work for it.  It drives me nuts when I see people sigh wistfully about lives they could have if they would just realize that only they control their lives.

…why people are unwilling to make small sacrifices even when the rewards are huge. This goes along with the last one.  People will avoid doing something difficult even if the payoff is huge.  Waking up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to exercise is a tiny sacrifice compared to the potential for weight loss and better health, and yet most people will still choose simply to sleep.  Moving abroad for work could have a life-changing effect on your career and family, but most people won’t do it because it’s “too complicated”.

…why people hate other people. Seriously, why?  I can understand disagreeing with someone, having a different viewpoint, or disliking the actions or someone, but why do people hate other people?  Can you imagine what the world would be like if instead of saying “I hate so-and-so!”, they worked to try and understand so-and-so, or possibly even tried to show so-and-so what is bothering them?  I sometimes feel like shouting “why can’t you all get along?!?” from the rooftops.

…why people can’t see what motivates their own actions and decisions. When you feel the need to buy a particular product, how can you not see that you’re buying it because of an ad, because of the aesthetically pleasing design, or its placement in the store?  When you’re thinking about having kids, how can you not see that the reason you feel the need for kids is because it’s what everyone else does, and because of artificial social constructs designed around the continuation of the species?

…what most people work towards in their lives. I honestly don’t understand the appeal of a house, children, grandchildren, then death. But, that’s me.  I want something different out of life, but I have no problem with people who do want the white picket fence vision.  What confounds me is how so many people want that vision without thinking about why, or whether it’s what they really want in the first place!  Most people give little to no thought about the most important question in life: “what do I want out of my life?”.  It’s the single most important question to ask yourself for your own happiness and fulfillment, and yet it’s something that most people never even think about.  It’s mind-boggling to me.

So, in the end, what I love about myself is that I do see/think about/understand these things. Sometimes it’s frustrating to feel like I’m operating in a parallel existence, but it also gives me hope, because I know that there must be other people out there who, like me, have a different world view, who see things through a different looking glass.  I love being the one to shake things up, the one who makes people think, the one who asks “why?”. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

4 Comments

  1. As for that last one… what I want out of my life *is* kids and a family! It’s not something that I ever just felt apathetic about or that I decided to do because “everyone” does it. I actually worked damned hard (and sacrificed a marriage, unfortunately) to have a “traditional” family and it’s not because it’s “traditional” that I want it… it’s just… that’s what I do want to do! Which goes back to your other point about doing what you want even if other people don’t understand. It might be hard to see why having kids and a house and then, yeah, the grave, is what some people want – but I can’t imagine my life any other way. I know that if I never had kids, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

    At the same time, good lord would I never even dream of telling someone else to do it. Just because it’s the right thing for me means nothing about the “right thing” in general, which I agree, there isn’t one particular thing. To each their own!

    • admin

      And that’s great, because you’ve actually given significant thought to it. But, many (I’d argue most) people set themselves on a path without really understanding why they’re on that path, or thinking about whether it’s the path they want or not.

      As you said, “to each their own”! That’s my philosophy as well, but sadly, it seems to me that most people don’t think for themselves enough to actually make that a reality.

  2. frida

    You are a rare one, Kelsey. I love reading your blog posts for exactly these reasons. You definitely have a unique outlook on life and I respect that you challenge and question everything around you, even other lifestyle design bloggers (which is what first drew me to your blog).

    I relate to you in many ways, including always feeling that I was born on the wrong planet. But being able to see through the b.s. facades, constructions, and fears that most people buy into is a true gift that I am grateful for even if it has caused me a fair share of grief in my life.

    The beauty in life is how all things and people are unique, each pursuing their own paths with their own purpose. I just wish that more people were accepting of those who choose not to conform.

    Thanks for another great post.

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