Sunday, October 16, 2011

Know-It-All


I have been doing quite a bit of introspection lately. This is due to a number of reasons, but chief among them is the desire to live the rest of my life happy, joyous and free. And it has become very apparent that one of the main roadblocks to that is how I interact with others.

People piss me off.

That phrase – right there – is the crux of my issue. I am arrogant. I flaunt superiority at the expense of others. I build myself up at the expense of others. This makes them upset at me which makes me upset at them. And when they express it I redouble my efforts to show them how wrong they are. In other words, my initial premise is ‘I am right and you are wrong’, and when you challenge me on that, it becomes a contest that I must win. And when you try to explain that it is no longer about the argument but rather how I am arguing it (arrogantly), I will try to win that debate. In other words, if you say I am being arrogant, I will argue arrogantly that I’m not being arrogant.

This helps explain why I am 53 and alone.

Who wants to be around that? Gawd, if I were dealing with someone like that I would tell such a person to go fuck themselves. Which, by the way, is quite an arrogant statement.

Where did this all start? Well, like most of our personality traits, as a child. Being the youngest, I felt I had to ‘earn’ airtime in our family. And to do so required (so I thought) outrageous behavior or statements. I thought my older brother was very smart and cool so I emulated that behavior. And finally, knowledge was highly valued in our tribe, so I embarked on obtaining two college degrees. Add all this up, and I became cocooned in my own smugness. Arrogant behavior became my subconscious and automatic response to most everything. I worshipped at the altar of ego, and equated happiness with being right. So I reveled in the win of the argument.

Well you know what? Oftentimes I did “win”. And then I was alone.

To the victor goes the isolation.

As I got older, I started to recognize that people didn’t like a know-it-all, but I was unable to put the brakes on my arrogance, so I developed a counter-balancing personality trait. Charm. My thinking was, yes, I have this negative aspect of my personality, but if I couched it in a pleasant, flattering persona, it would at least be tolerated. Take the good with the bad, right? I thought I could still be loved with this construct. Well, I was loved. Briefly. The ‘Charm Offensive’ worked for a while until girlfriends figured out it was a fa├žade that hid my true essence.

But what really is my ‘true essence’? If arrogance was a learned trait in childhood and adolescence, that’s not my true essence. So what is the real me? Gosh, I just don't know. I do know I want to be liked by everyone, so the foundation for my behavior is unrealistic to begin with. So, basing my behavior on a ridiculous premise is a sure recipe for unhappiness.

I now recognize that arrogance and flattery were things I picked up along the way, so if those were stripped away, what’s left? Here’s where I am with that. I am human. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong, but more importantly, who really cares? I am just another bozo on the bus, trying to get through life like everyone else. And one thing I have learned is, I can’t do this gig alone. I need help. And that phrase right there – I need help – is, I believe, the key to breaking through the icy shell of arrogance that I have constructed. I don’t have the answers.

So here I am, and here’s what I have deduced so far. Arrogance was a learned behavior just like charm was. I piled crap on top of crap hoping the sweet smell of one would offset the acrid smell of the other. 

So if you were to conclude that I am full of crap, grab a prize.

So who am I, really?

My gawd. Stay tuned. As soon as I figure that out I will let you know.

And I don’t mean that arrogantly.

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