I spent a year and a half fighting for my graduate thesis. Fighting for every line and every word my adviser had something to say about in my draft. It was my writing after all. It was mine, and I vowed, at age 10, that I would never again let someone
coerce convince me to write something that I didn’t want to write. I saw it as selling out. I probably could have finished my thesis “on time,” or early, if I had been willing to walk the path of my predecessors– you know, the one of smile and nods, and just doing whatever they want me to do, just so the work can be over with. In the end–of my thesis, anyway– I got on the conveyor belt, and behaved how a good graduate student should.
My entire life, I’ve never been quite fond of rules. I complain endlessly for society trying to push me into line. Don’t get me wrong, I agree to common courtesy, honesty, kindness, and following the law. But sometimes I just fight. I really just don’t like doing what I’m told. My mom always told me, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” Nonetheless, that’s what I do when I get pissed. It’s definitely not slow-paced living at all.
Today, after a less than favorable job performance review– I have to say, probably my first– understandably, I was devastated. I want to do well in my place of employment. I was actually desperately in need of some confirmation I was doing okay. And I got the complete opposite of that today. So the fight within me starts- I’m ready to pound my fists into the wall. I’m thinking, “How the hell can I still do this my way?” and “How am I such a failure?”
Why do I always have to do things the hard way– which is mostly my way, I suppose? Here I am, about to make the same mistake I made with my thesis. Fighting tooth and nail for what I want, knowing that in the end, I’m not going to get what I want, and I’ll be climbing up the steep side of the mountain all for naught.
I’ve spent a significant portion of the last couple of class periods telling my students that they may not like their system of education, but they have to take what they can get from it– mostly, learning the discipline to do things they don’t want to do. Because, you know, if you don’t suck it up and do things you don’t want to do, how are you going to be able to push through the challenges and least interesting parts of achieving your goals?
Now, aren’t I the silly hypocrite? How can I know so much and express this to others with exceptional clarity, but have a fog in front of my eyes? I’m trying to learn from Taoism- to stop fighting, to live in harmony with the universe, and to let the wind carry me in the direction it blows.
As of this moment, I’ve stopped fighting, but I’m not giving up. I’m going to do what I have to do to turn the review around (I have a second chance, ya’ll). I’m going to get in line and walk deliberately with the flow of traffic. Although now, at least I know where I am, and can hop off the conveyor belt when I choose to do so.
(sorry for the accidental, unfinished post earlier… “Why I stopped shopping at the mall” should be up soon).