It seems obvious, but it’s not always easy to remember out in the world. People act in what they perceive to be in their best interests; not necessarily their objective best interests, but at least what they think will make them happy in the moment. While that doesn’t mean everybody’s right all the time, it usually means that people think their actions are justifiable. Every person who has ever hurt me has had reasons for doing so; everybody I have ever hurt either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about my motivations.
Emotionally, this is a pile of uncomfortable garbage, but the practical consequence of this is that the best way to get what you want out of somebody is to make them believe that you can give them what they need, bonus points if you’re the only person who can. Even writing that sentence feels almost sociopathic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to manipulate or coerce people. But thinking through some (extremely business-y, work driven) examples:
-If you want a specific job, the best way to get it is to be the type of person they’re already looking for. Knowing the company and the company’s priorities and even reading your interviewer can help you know how to play into that.
-If you want to sell something, create a product that fills people’s needs. Present it in a way that will appeal to them. It took me two years to make my first 100 etsy sales, and as soon as I tripped into something that fit into what people were actually searching for I started making 40-50 a month.
My issue with this is always that I want to do things my way; I don’t want to pretend to be a social butterfly in job interviews, I want to make weird shit for my etsy shop that I think is funny rather than what I think will sell, and I want to wax masturbatory poetic on my blog rather than bust my ass on instructional content. Most people feel this way about whatever they’re doing in their lives. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad — some things we only do for ourselves and that keeps them pure, even if it also keeps them obscure. It’s exhausting to try so hard to be different for what other people want.
Beyond Creating Content/Value/Whatever, though, it gets even messier. If it feels soulless to pander to expectations for financial gain, it’s even harder to draw that line for when to change in personal relationships. How much do you bend for your family, friends, lovers? We’re told to never change ourselves, but we also all have flaws — sometimes gigantic ones. How do you accept yourself without giving up on growth? What’s compromise and what’s just the transactionary dilution of personalities?
If it was as simple as that, you could say “I want a wild, passionate love…I’ll just become the kind of person people fall in love with.” (Or worse, “I’ll just become what my partner wants.”) What kind of person even is that, exactly? And once you’re done compromising your own feelings to seem appealing, how are you going to reconcile the fact that you’re a alive and squirmingly imperfect? Hell if I know.
Lately I’ve been into some cheesy shit I learned in therapy; living in a brain that tells me that life is meaningless and that I’m an unlovable burden to everyone around me if left to its own devices, I’ve had to take a pretty active role in deciding every day that I’m going to fight the gooey gray sinkhole of my own instincts. So I’m going to bare my soul for you and share my “positive affirmations” even as I’m gagging a little about how delusional and embarrassing this feels sometimes. These are all written on post it notes on the mirror in my bedroom.
- I AM:
- powerful & in control of my life
- self motivated
- I LIKE MY:
- sense of humor
- I AM GOOD AT:
- winged eyeliner
- I AM EXCITED ABOUT:
- my new apartment
If this isn’t enough for you, I added a few more after some reflection re: the fact that I have spent my life holding grudges deeply and enthusiastically.
- Holding grudge will only hurt me.
- I can let go of pain without their actions being okay.
- I am the only person responsible for my own happiness.
- I can’t change the past, only learn from it.
Sometimes I believe these, sometimes I’m still trying to convince myself. It has also led to a friend telling me to “cut it out with the zen master bullshit, you’re allowed to be mad when someone fucks you over.” So again, hell if I know. Truth be told, I’m kind of worried if I don’t chill out on the stress and anger my heart’s just going to quit on me. Besides — deep down in its subjective squishiness, all the things I’m upset about mean something completely different to other people.
There’s no end to this post; I could take off my pants and turn them into a cape and call it performance art and just roll with it, but I’m going to call it here. Everything’s messy and garbage and that’s supposed to make it beautiful or some shit.