Self vs Self

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what people do to themselves in pursuit of their goals. About how many interact with their ‘self’ and how they interact with those around them. A large part of having goals is being as good to your ‘self’ as the ‘self’ of the people around you.

It is not easy to see that there is a difference, but I believe there is. Many, myself included, are driven. They want to succeed at all costs, to be something and make something of themselves. Which is good, it is good to be driven and have goals. But, and I fall into this trap quite often, in the pursuit of your own goals you lose sight of the fact that many are equally driven. This is especially true when you are in an environment suffused with driven, hungry people like most offices are.

Drive has been around me since I was young, whether or not I realized it. In school growing up, we were always asked what we wanted to do in life. What do you want to be, Clayton? What are your goals, Clayton?

I never knew and, worse than this, I thought this meant I wasn’t driven. Or, at least, that I was just lazy because I could never really put effort or care into things. I knew what was necessary to get through school, to get into university, to get a good job, and to achieve something between middling and moderate success.

It wasn’t until I got to university that I found my ‘self’. I found confidence, but more importantly, or so I thought, I found what I wanted to do. I want to write, to change people around me. I talk with my best friend, who I met at Queen’s, about this a lot. Some may call it soul searching, finding your way in life, or picking yourself up by the bootstraps. It comes down to a quote from The Departed. It’s one of the first lines of the movie, and Jack Nicholson says it.

“I never wanted to be a product of my environment, I wanted my environment to be a product of me.”

Now, this is problematic as fuck when considered in the context of the movie. But, I am not one to split hairs, I prefer to be a little phenomenological about it.

How do I balance my ‘self’, i.e. the goals and aspirations I have, with everyone else’s ‘self’? I am not very good at it yet, but writers are rarely good at that which they preach, otherwise they would not be writers. But, I think it’s not possible to successfully achieve this goal, which you ought to have, on one occasion. It is a lifetime responsibility. I am not trying to be callous, but it is easy to lose sight of office politics, to become comfortable. A workplace is not going to be comforting, whatever your salary or position if you want to leave it eventually. If you want to work your way upwards.

It is a grind, daily, weekly, and annually.

But, friends lighten this, especially driven ones. So, it is suggestible to have people around you who work as hard as you, they will understand that which you complain about at the end of the day. And if I’ve said it once I’ll say it a million times more, life is all about balance. No one thing should preoccupy a majority of your time because no one thing is that important. Whether you want to be a writer, a lawyer, a doctor or a racecar driver, it is helpful to do things entirely unrelated to your pursuits sometimes.

I like to watch basketball, to walk my dog and listen to rap. I like to get a pint with my friends, that is the ‘self’ that helps balance my hardworking, writing ‘self. It’s a never-ending amount of internal ‘selves’. Also read Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. It’s amazing and teaches you to look at life in a broader sense. But, I’m not here to talk about book.

I’m sorry if this seems muddled and a bit all over the place. But, it’s hard to generalize for others. I know what works for me and I’ve laid it out. The Nicholson quote is a goal like any other. As a writer, I obviously want to be different and to make people see that difference as a benefit to themselves. But, it is as important that you realize every single person has this ‘self’. I’ve gone over mine a bit but every single person you meet will have the same concept of their personal pursuits. It’s something I’ve encountered many times.

-Clay

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