Lately, I can’t stop thinking about how ashamed I am of the things I’ve said or done growing up. I know to many people it sounds like a waste of time to obsess about, since we “all did things we’re not proud of as a kid.” (That’s the canned response I get when I try to express my dissatisfaction with my past to a friend.) However, that doesn’t really make me feel like I can continue on my way without remembering every step of the way the “foolishness” I exhibited throughout my life.
I was never the kind of person to get in trouble with the police for vandalism, theft, or making a loud ruckus at a party. I was mostly well-behaved in terms of societal norms. Oh no, my shameful behavior is much harder to shake as an adult.
I specifically remember a conversation I was a part of during a history class in 10th grade. I don’t remember the context, but all I remember was suggesting that our species places too much value on human life. I was trying to argue (unsuccessfully) the theory that other creatures have as much right to populate the Earth as humans do, and we shouldn’t put so much effort into discovering cures for diseases. Well, I was grappling with some really heavy philosophical thoughts at that age, and I was seriously addressing a group of teenagers as if they could respond in any way other than the way they did respond. The ENTIRE classroom erupted in emotion and I was basically being attacked for my suggestion. I am not a violent person, nor do I wish bad will upon people, but that day, I lost many friends. People thought of me as a monster. I was evil incarnate. I changed schools shortly after that incident; it was too hard to continue there.
In my senior year of high school (different school), I took a physics class. I wanted to take Chemistry II, but the slot wasn’t available in my time frame, so I chose another science. I really am not sure what I was expecting. I am fascinated with the subject, and I was relatively good at math, but in high school, I was nowhere near ready to deal with the study time required to gain a strong grasp on the subject. The worst part is, I took the class with the same teacher who was also my photography teacher, and he had a very dim view of the student body. My first day of photography the semester prior, I discussed with him that I thought everyone had the same capabilities to learn difficult subjects. He strongly disagreed. I couldn’t understand why. In physics, on the first day, he gave us a test to see who could think in the way that was necessary to pass the course successfully. I was trying to understand why one of my answers was wrong, and he really wasn’t being very helpful. It was very sad for me, because I always fancied myself an easy learner, and the fact that I couldn’t understand really made me feel unworthy of physics. I turned the class into an audit and barely did any work from then on out. I did try from time-to-time, but it was clear the teacher had no interest in my learning process. I have a strong interest in science, specifically chemistry and physics, but I doubt I will do anything with it because of that encounter. I will always feel second-rate.
In another class that same year, a civics class, I really did try hard to engage myself. I did miss homework occasionally, but I was genuinely interested during class. One time, we had a debate, and I felt like I did a great job contributing, but my “team” lost, and no explanation was given as to why.
In college, there are many examples I could cite where I ignored the social norms, and students labeled me negatively. For one class called “Persuasion and Propaganda,” I wanted to hold a book burning so people on campus would get more into reading. I wanted to make the campus think we should ban certain books because their content was in some way unwholesome, and make them want to stage a counter-movement to get them passionate about reading. I thought it was brilliant. Well, my idea lost to a run-of-the-mill food drive. I still participated in the food drive, and it was rewarding in the end, but I really felt depressed that not even one person could get behind such an intellectual and challenging project such as a book burning.
In a later class, social psychology, I gave a presentation on a somewhat abstract topic, and nobody knew what it was about. I was trying to express that the weakening creativity among the population is extremely harmful to our society. I feel ashamed for even bringing it up.
Since leaving college abruptly (and without a degree), I have taken jobs that usually ended poorly. I most recently worked as an assistant manager at a fast food joint. I quit that job on a day I was scheduled to work with less than 2 hours notice. I had a depressive attack and it clearly ended badly for me. Looking back on my performance, I pat myself on the back for being such a hard worker, but I can’t help but feel sadness that I consistently disappointed my boss. He thought my work was not even close to what he expected of someone in the position, mainly because he said my employees didn’t respect me. I honestly had no idea how to get them to respect me, nor did I really care to make them. In my opinion, if you can’t respect your boss(es) and follow their commands, you either don’t like the job and should quit, or you can’t respect authority and should be fired. I understand the economy is pretty terrible right now, but if you actually have a job, you should do it to the best of your ability and be grateful you have it. I guess that idea has gone the way of the dinosaurs, though.
I guess I understand that I have this almost sickening desire to impress my authority figures (and sometimes, peers), and that I can be quite condescending to people who can’t understand or get behind my ideas, but there has to be something else going on here that I’m not aware of. I am ashamed of the things I’ve done or said in my past, but only because I should really know better. I can’t expect people with normal emotions to understand how I can imagine the things I think about. I can’t empathize with others. I can appear empathetic when it is required of me, but I’d much rather be in my own head. I realize that does sound a bit antisocial, but I assure you, my reader, that I am not hostile or violent in any way, aside from the occasional thoughts of self-harm, and that comes with the territory. I do wish well on others, but I wish well on a much grander scale that most. I want everyone to be happy, but I want to figure out ways for that happiness to manifest. It won’t happen because I wish it, and it won’t happen from simple goodwill, either. It has to be socially engineered into our global population, otherwise, it will just be a superficial temporary solution. Humans are savage beasts only hunting their own wild, insatiable desires. I’m as much ashamed of my past as I am my species’.
Worst part is, this entry was supposed to help me feel better about the things I want to do with my future. I don’t think I’m ready to stop obsessing over my past.