Sweet Dreams

I feel like I’ve been dreaming a lot more lately, which is nice. I like dreaming. I don’t feel as regularly tired as I used to. Maybe modern education is bad for our health; sleep is very important. Sleep is a very stupid thing to do in nature. You are extremely vulnerable (yes in this case physically) as you sleep, so if it wasn’t extremely important, we would not have evolved to do it. It’s getting late, good night.

Insecurities

If I started a YouTube channel, the first video I would make is about insecurities, in particular my own. No one thinks about our own insecurities more than ourselves. And I think part of the reason why is because talking about them is kind of taboo. I don’t want to burden others with my problems…at least that’s what I’ll often tell myself. But the issue is not about other people, it’s about ourselves. I think the real reason we don’t like to talk about them is because it makes us vulnerable. We are scared to share certain parts about ourselves because we are unsure about how people will react. And social media has only worked to perpetuate this problem. Because God forbid I post something that deviates from the carefully crafted persona I have created for myself online and in-person.

Why is this such a scary thought? Why is vulnerability so scary?

Before we get there I am going to be “that guy” just because I think its interesting and because I took Latin (Shoutout to Mr. O’Donnell), but the word vulnerable comes from the Latin word vulnus, which means wound, a physical wound. Nowadays the phrase, “letting your guard down” is probably more commonly used in the context of emotional vulnerability rather than physical. So why in heck’s name do we associate our feelings with bodily harm?

When we talk about insecurities or anything personal we allow others to know the weak spots in our mental suit of armor. That knowledge could fall into the wrong hands and we could get seriously injured…emotionally. And we all know having emotions mean you are weak. Having emotions means that we are irrational and unstable…so better not risk it.

At least that’s one way to think. But we all have insecurities, we all have emotions, we are all human. So why not celebrate or at least be open about them? We all think we have it worse than the next guy, but the thing is he thinking the same thing.

We our often so focused on ourselves that we don’t even think about what other people may be feeling.

I’m a big believer in the idea that once you get something off your chest and out in the open, you worry and stress about it much less (I’m a believer through experience). So if we allow ourselves to air our insecurities we may just start to think little less about ourselves, giving us more room to build some empathy.

Of course there are certain details about ourselves that are need-to-know only or that would be considered TMI, but in the case of insecurities I think that if you ever find yourself at a place (not necessarily physically) where you have the compulsion and the ability to share it, I encourage you to do so.

We tell ourselves that the easy thing to do is to “be strong,” to suppress those insecurities and bottle them up tightly…but when has that ever turned out well for the bottle?

Past is Past

Sometimes I think back on how I could have done things better, but this is useless when it gets to the point of regret. Whenever people ask me if I regret anything or if I would have done anything different, particularly with respect to college, I usually say no. First of all (no meme intended) I can do nothing to change it now so what would the point be in wanting to change anything. Second, even if I could I don’t know if I would. The person I am today was created from all my past experiences, pangs and pleasures alike. From each experience there was something to learn, and if I didn’t learn it then I would learn it eventually.

One big one I’ve thought about lately has been my prep for MD school. Should I have started volunteering and shadowing and prepping, etc. earlier? Should I have applied last year? Maybe…but maybe not. I think about the time I am “wasting” by not having applied, but is it really wasted? I get more time to develop myself, not as a professional, but as a person. I really get to invest myself in my current occupations.

I was at a meeting earlier tonight for the new place I will be volunteering. The guy sitting next to me kinda looked miserable to be there. Same went for a couple of the girls sitting by me. It’s understandable, it was late, but I was pretty stoked to be there and was excited to start working. They looked unenthused, and all I could think about was how thankful I was not to have class the next day and not to have tests and papers looming over my head so that I could fully and properly participate.

So at this point, I’m happy where I’m at.

The Mirrorbox

There’s an exhibit where I work called the Mirrorbox. It’s creator calls it an empathy machine of sorts. Basically, how it works is you and a partner stick your heads into this black pea-pod-cocoon-looking thing and stare at each other. When the Mirrorbox is turned on the light inside turn on and begin to cycle in such a way that it blends your faces together. Sometimes it’s half your’s have their’s, sometimes it’s a mix of both, sometimes it’s just you. Through this “experience” you are made to recognize the other’s common humanity essentially. The whole thing is a very intimate experience; being vulnerable in that small space, without saying a word, changes how you think about the other, or other’s in general. It is about as close as you can get to climbing into another person’s skin without being a sci-fi monster.

It’s honestly all feels quite serendipitous that this exhibit is showing up at the museum at the same time that I am reading The Book of Joy, in which one of the primary themes is recognizing one’s own common humanity with the world, at the same time that I will be starting as a Companion Care volunteer, where I will be interacting with and advocating for the homeless and underserved on a regular basis.

I could be reading into it too much, as I do, but I don’t, something just feels really right.

Mornings

I feel like most of my post have been kinda of serious in nature, probably because the inner workings of my mind are so #deep. I want to move a from that today, hopefully more often to write something that might be a little more fun to write, and hopefully read.

I hate mornings…sometimes…I guess it depends.  Mornings when I my alarm goes of mid-cycle are the worst, and if that’s not bad enough I know when that’s going to happen the night before because my alarm clock tells me how long it will be until the alarm goes off. If its not a multiple of 30 minutes I know tomorrow is gonna be rough. I’ll wake up all groggy, cortisol coursing through my bloodstream, and the alarm is not my favorite. I used to like that one, but not so much anymore.

Good mornings are when I wake up at the end of an REM cycle to my favorite alarm, the opening theme song for season one Haikyu. That song gets me so pumped… and no I’m not ashamed of that.

Good mornings are when I wake up to the white noise of people chattering in the kitchen after spending the night for a family get-together, and the smells of longanisa and fresh white rice accost my sleepy olfactory nerves.

Good mornings are when I have a plan for the day, I wake up before my alarm, shut it off before it tells me and I say, “Fuck you alarm!” but not really. Bad mornings can start the same way, but I forget to turn off my alarm. Retribution I guess, he’s only trying to helpful.

Here’s hoping for a good one… Alarm will ring in 8.4 hrs… oh well…

 

Individuality

The issue I was struggling with last night was this:

I wanted to say that the best way to get over yourself and over the fear of rejection was to realize that we are all part of a larger human community. To accept that we are all the same human.

Now I wasn’t quite sure if I agreed with this. Our individuality is very important, it’s what gives us our unique identity. I know myself better than anyone, so how can I not matter? Can we simultaneously celebrate our differences while also recognizing our shared humanity with the rest of the world. And the answer seems obvious now that I am writing it down, that was not the case just a few hours ago, but of course we can.

Recognizing our shared humanity doesn’t mean seeing everyone as the same person, which I think was where my mind was going before; it includes seeing that each person is unique, but despite that we all share somethings in common.

I like to believe all people are inherently good. Now what “good” is is a topic for another time. When it comes down to it all people seek connection (and at another time I also want to talk about empathy in relation to this). Even if not outwardly stated everything we do is in an effort to connect. Where things can get messy is when we have twisted ideas of what it means to connect or on how to connect. That’s all.

Rejection (and Acceptance)

Fear of rejection, of failure, of disappointing others has played a huge role in decisions I’ve made throughout my life.

One of the worst feelings in the world is rejection. Feeling like you aren’t good enough or like there is something wrong with you.

On the other hand, the feeling of acceptance is one of the greatest. It’s an affirmation that you are enough. Acceptance means that someone values you enough to bring you into their life.

Of course things are not as cut and dry as I’ve described them. Fundamental attribution errors, as I was discussing yesterday, can also be made with ourselves as the subject. In the face of rejection, we can choose to think that it was because of some internal or personal reason, or we can realize that there are external factors at play. If you were applying for a job, maybe other candidates, God forbid, were extremely well qualified!

Similarly acceptance is not always as great as it sometimes may seem. Far to often people take advantage of how great acceptance feels and use it to in a sense control or manipulate others. The hazing process of some college organizations is exactly this; tormenting young/ new members for little more than the entertainment of the seniors. Of course fear of rejection plays a role too, but in a case like this, participants are ultimately hoping to gain acceptance.

Not sure what I want to end with this because I am currently having an internal conflict about this subject, I will report back once I have resolved it.

The Fundamental Attribution Error

It’s an easy one to make. This is something I’ve thought a lot about since being first introduced to it while studying for the MCAT. The fundamental attribution error is when we assume that a person’s behavior is a product of that persons personality or disposition, some internal factor; that’s just the way they are. What we are ignoring when we make this error are external factors that may have influenced that person’s behavior.

A place where I think FAEs are perhaps most commonly made are in restaurants; That waiter is taking so long, he is lazy and is a bad person. Less frequently do we think, He must really busy right now, or simply, He must be having a rough day.

Here are what I think the advantages are to the latter reaction:

  1. You avoid becoming self-righteous. By dissociating the behavior from the person, you avoid enforcing the whole I’m good, others are bad mentality.
  2. You are less angry, ’cause no one like to be angry. If you commit a FAE, often times you can feel personally attacked or just mad because you have been personally harmed or inconvenienced.
  3.  It builds empathy, and empathy makes the world a better place. You try and see things from their perspective and try to understand where they might be coming from.

We are all human, we all make mistakes and we all make bad decisions.

I’m not condoning “bad behavior” or saying that treating another person poorly is ever justified, but what happened happened, and how we choose to interpret another person’s behavior can have profound effects on ourselves and our own outlook.

You are made for perfection

This is something that Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in the book I’m reading. Isn’t that a encouraging thought? Each person has the potential to be the best version of themselves. And I think what the Archbishop is really getting at here is that we as humans are all capable of change. I can seek to improve myself and can create a plan to carry out that improvement.

It’s a shame that many people grew up in a education system, especially here in the U.S. that heavily enforced the idea of natural talent. That attitude of a fixed mindset is not easy to shake.

This also puts the task of achieving perfection on the individual. You are not made perfect, but you are made for perfection. In other words, you can only achieve perfection if you seek it out and make an effort to that end. The more we buy into this idea, the closer we come to making “perfection” a reality.

Humility

Why do we value humility?  We value confidence because it often means a person has something to offer or that they are good at something. Yet we dislike arrogant, over-confident people because they often disappoint, the oversell and under-deliver. So is it simply because humble people tend to undersell and over-deliver? I never studied evolutionary psychology, and I bet the answer can be founded somewhere in that realm.

Where is the line between confidence and arrogance, or humility and self-loathing? I guess in both cases it comes down to whether the attitude is justified. There may be some mismatch between a persons own beliefs and what is the reality. A confident person believes in his or her own ability and can back it up when put to the test. An arrogant person also believes in his or her own ability, but is unable to back it up. Likewise a humble person, may lack confidence, but does possess some skill or trait. And a self-loathing person, lacks confidence because they do not possess a certain trait.

And yet, confidence is not they absence of humility and vice versa. Perhaps what is common between the two is that both inspire trust in a person. And in both cases the observer knows the truth about the person, that that person will follow-through with whatever task.

TIATF: My ability, my heritage, my health