Going my own way (and what it means to me)

Walking on Railroad
There’s a growing men’s movement known as MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) that has been starting to take hold in the U.S., and while loosely defined in some respects, one of its commonly accepted tenets is the rejection of all long term relationships with women, including marriage.

In what I feel has to be the height of irony, I also consider myself going my own way, only my way is not the same way as men going their own way (because I do not reject long term relationships or marriage).  Nay, I say, I go another way, a way different from other ways, even the men who go their own way.

Still with me?  Good.

This is one of the reasons why I can never belong to any association or group for any period of time before I start to grate on people’s nerves to the point that I’m banned for life.  I don’t know why, there always seems to be some point where things go off on a tangent regarding a group/movement/church/party’s belief where I dissent and quite literally have to go my own way.  Once that happens a rift seems to occur where I longer feel comfortable associating closely with such a group.  It’s why I don’t attend church, why I’m politically independent rather than belonging to any one party, why I don’t belong to any clubs or associations revolving around common interests or hobbies, and why I can’t even stomach the thought of joining a guild in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

I don’t like being part of a team.  I like doing things my way, which is of course almost NEVER the way a team I’m participating with does things.  I guess that’s just part of who I am.

I remember my early years in high school when this aspect of my personality really started to present itself.  I was taking an advanced economics class during my senior year, and as part of our studies the teacher put us in groups so we could learn how to collaborate on investments in the stock market.  Ah yes, my favorite kind of assignments: learning how to work with other people.  Pffffftt.

Anyway, everyone in the group I was assigned to hated me, and I mean HATED me.  Because of my disability they thought I was a mentally retarded nimrod who had no business being in an advanced college level class with shmaaartsy people like themselves, so there was a lot of tension while we went over potential investments to make for our fantasy portfolio.  Ultimately the group decided to roll with a series of companies that make golfing equipment.  I suggested that because it was, you know, the middle of January, it’s not likely that these stocks would go anywhere while it was off-season, and hey what about this company that makes Lotus 1-2-3?  This spreadsheet software seems to really be taking off, maybe we should add that to our portfolio instead?

So of course they ignored me and went with the golfing companies instead.  And of course we lost money, and of course the one stock I proposed shot up like 10% in value at the conclusion of our class project.  Right then and there I knew I was never going to be a team player, and pondered then over whether I should lobby the government to classify teachers who subjected their students into participating in group projects as child abusers.

But that’s neither here nor there…

At some point in my life I had to embrace who I was, a lone wolf of sorts who simply isn’t wired to be a part of any one group.   That’s why I chose the name A Geek in the Wilderness for my blog.  The wilderness is my home, apart from civilization and humanity, and while geek is sometimes considered synonymous with nerd, it carries a deeper meaning due to its original usage as a reference to “circus freaks,” and eventually evolving to also mean “a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.”

My best friend would say I have trouble associating with a group because I have a tendency to purposely become prickly and abrasive just to create a sort of self fulfilling prophecy.  I think there’s some truth to that as well, but I do know there were times I tried hard, REALLY hard to fit in, guarding my words and actions so I avoided doing anything that the group I was with might not approve of, and did my darndest best to contribute as a team player.  It never worked out.  I could always feel the hatred or the disconnect.  I never felt like I truly belonged anywhere.  But you know what?  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that either.  Some of us were just born to be loners, independent of any group, and that’s ok.  I’m at peace when I’m alone.  I feel happiest when I’m alone.  It’s only society that keeps asserting that I should be miserable, that the ONLY path to happiness is to be an active part of  large social circles revolving around a common interest or goal.  No man is an island after all, as they say.  Sorry, that’s just not how I roll.

I choose to go my own way.  😛

Study says introverts are miserable, near suicidal dweeb-balls of walking death and despair unless they start acting more like extroverts

Ok, I’m embellishing it a bit, but probably not by all that much:

Extroverts, those outgoing, gregarious types who wear their personalities on their sleeve, are generally happier, studies show. Some research also has found that introverts, who are more withdrawn in nature, will feel a greater sense of happiness if they act extroverted. (Source Link)

Yeah I have a word for those happy go lucky gregarious and fabulous extroverts who just feel this compulsive need to shower the world with their hip hip happiness:  GO SCRATCH.

I don’t believe introverts as a whole are less happy.  They just don’t feel the need to demonstrate this every minute of every hour of every day to everyone within a 500 mile radius.

There’s one element of this study that seems to be particularly absent too: the failure to recognize that introverts can in fact be naturally extroverted: when it comes to people they already know and are already comfortable being with.  We value real connections that are sincere and meaningful.  That’s why I can’t abide by being in a crowd full of people I don’t know well and haven’t had the time to form meaningful bonds with.  Somehow the friendliness, the cheerfulness and happiness feels fake without it.

And being surrounded by people who are acting fake, being fake, and fake-smiling at you until you leave the room, at which point the gossip about your hairstyle and choice of Walmart brand flannel starts to fly fast and furious… yeah… doesn’t exactly strike me as an exercise in true happiness.  I’ll just go read a book, thank you very much.

That’s another thing, the presumption that extroverts are happier, when the real truth is that they merely LOOK happier, whereas an introvert might look despondent and depressed when he’s at home, in his mind he’s really like:

Disco Dancing Pair
It’s Saturday night and I’m staying in!

So this idea that we have to play a role (the role of an extrovert) in order to experience more happiness doesn’t really wash.  There is a danger of course of becoming a complete social recluse, but if you already have an inner circle of best friends and a loving family, what else do you need, really?

I’m feeling crabby today…

Came across this devotional today that I remember reading before, but still bears repeating:

THE HERMIT CRAB

Hermit Crab
Seriously, get off my sand.

A lesson from nature reveals what happens when we trade the good fight for an easier way and walk away from our struggle. I recently read a biologist’s study on crabs, creatures that live in a rough, dangerous environment among jagged rocks. Crabs are dashed about daily by waves and attacked on every side by creatures from deeper waters. They battle continually to protect themselves, and over time they develop a strong shell and powerful instincts for survival.

Amazingly, some in the crab family give up the struggle for life. Searching for a safe haven, they take up residence in the cast-off shells of other ocean creature. These crabs are known as hermit crabs. Settling for safety, they retreat from the battle and escape into secondhand houses that are ready-made.

But hermit crabs’ “safe houses” prove to be costly and ruinous. Through their lack of struggle, crucial parts of their bodies deteriorate. Even their organs wither due to lack of use. Over time the hermit crab loses all power of motion, as well as vital parts needed for escape. These limbs simply fall off, leaving the crab out of danger but useless to do anything except exist.

Meanwhile, crabs that continued the struggle grow and flourish. Their five pairs of legs become meaty and strong from resisting the powerful tides. And they learn to hide from their predators by skillfully scuttling under rock formations.

Lately I’ve been wondering about decisions I need to make that could change my life, but I’m always of the attitude that things NEVER work out for me, so why bother?  So I hide in my cave and wave from a safe distance as life passes me by.  I realized though that this is not a good way to live, that I can’t be afraid of being disappointed to the point that I never bother taking risks anymore.  While I enjoy the comforts of my cave, sometimes I need a reminder every now and then to get out there, take a chance, and grab life by the horns.  The cave will still be there when I get back.

Yeah, I’m still on the dog thing…

When I think about owning a dog, I envision us spending time together like so:

Jesse Stone with Dog on Bus
Only thing missing from this picture is the Stetson.

Ah, Jesse Stone, a man after mine own heart.  He’s even got the brooding “I hate the world and everything in it” look down pat.  Aside from the loner lifestyle and pretty much the most perfect house a guy could ever ask for (and by perfect I mean rustic, broken down, cheap and way out in the boonies), he’s also got a dog that he takes everywhere.  Literally, EVERYWHERE.  It goes with him to work, home, on patrol, the supermarket, and in the above particular instance, on a bus trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The dog rarely barks, never misbehaves, and is content to sit or lie down quietly for extended periods of time.  The perfect travel companion.

Where can I find a dog like this?

Of course real life won’t be quite as accommodating, as I rather doubt they’ll let me keep my dog at work, nor would I be able to travel the way I usually do, which is usually to stay at snobby 4 star hotels where I ring the bellhop for no other reason than just because I can.  I’d suddenly have to become intimately familiar with every pet friendly hotel chain out there, while researching how I can bring the dog along on flights, if I can even bring him at all.  Kennels would be out of the question, so I’d have to leave it with a friend.  Too bad I don’t have any.

Still, it’s a nice idea being able to take the dog with me on the road, and presuming I have a well behaved one, I’d just have to plan my trips more carefully and accept the necessity of forgoing some of the perks and convenience of pet-free travel.  I think ultimately the trade-offs would be worth it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a ton of Dog Whisperer books and TV episodes I need to go read and watch.

Going to the dogs (Can a single man successfully care for a doggie?)

I’ve always wanted a dog.  Not just A dog though, but a Siberian Husky.  There’s just something about owning a wolf-like dog that would be one step closer to fulfilling the lifelong fantasy of living in a cabin in the mountains, man’s best friend cozily stretched out near the fireplace, while the world’s best cappuccino machine chugs away in the kitchen.  Hey, a cabin tucked away in a valley somewhere doesn’t mean I’m not without my creature comforts, ya know.

The only thing is, the kind of dog suitable for my current lifestyle needs to be one with the mind of a… cat.  One that wouldn’t get lonely while I’m working, because it pretty much slept the whole day, and one perfectly content with the confines of a dinky apartment (at least until said cabin is eventually purchased.)  You know, the exact opposite of what would keep a Siberian Husky happy.

Siberian Husky Puppy
Hoooosa prettypuppy? Hooooooosaaaaa pretttypuppppy???

I wonder how apartment dwelling single folks do it.  Most dogs are social creatures and can’t be left alone all day, so sans pet-sitting 5 days a week, the only other solution to avoid this is getting a second dog, which is already starting to complicate things more than I’d like.  (Plus TWO dogs in a small apartment? Ehhhhh…)

So if I’m to get a dog now, it’d have to be a breed more suitable to my current living conditions.  And no, I ain’t getting a toy dog.

Siberian Husky Eats Cookie
Cooooookieeeeee!

Ultimately, I think I need to focus on a career change rather than wring my hands over what kind of dog I could manage to take care of.  One that allows me to stay at home while I work, which incidentally would not only make it possible to care for a dog and keep it happy, but allow me to get OUT OF THIS STATE ONCE AND FOR ALL too.

I see a picture in my mind of the near perfect life complete with doggie woggie, but it looks like it will all have to first start with finding  a new job in a new state, preferably one with lots of mountains.

Siberian Husky chills out on lawn
A young Siberian I came across while sightseeing in Telluride, Colorado

Forgetting does not equal healing

One of the habits I’ve formed over the years is to try to quickly forget whenever someone does harm to me and just move on with my life.  I’m of the sort that when a wound cuts, it cuts deeply, and I’m trying to get beyond that by learning not to take things so personally.  I thought putting it out of mind was the best way to prevent these cuts and wounds from impacting me more than they should.

I get rejected for a job.  Nothing personal.  Move on.  I get rejected for a date.  Nothing personal, move on.  No sense in nursing wounds and bearing grudges, amirite?

But then I had an epiphany one day when I looked at some of the small physical scars I had on my hands, and I couldn’t remember how I got them.  Scars from long ago, with no recollection of the injuries that caused them.  And then it occurred to me:  even though I had long since forgotten, the scars WERE STILL THERE.

I wondered then if that’s why I would sometimes be angry for no apparent reason, or wake up depressed even though the sun was out and a good day was ahead of me.  That’s when I realized, I may no longer have any memory of all the hurts that have accrued over the years, but those emotional scars were STILL there.  Forgetting wasn’t enough.  See, it had always been my rationale that you can’t get angry or bitter over a hurt if you’ve long since forgotten about it.  That’s why when a close friend suggested that my tendency to immediately expect to be rejected by people stemmed from my father abandoning me when I was a kid, I scoffed at it.  I was glad my father left and barely gave him a minute’s thought since then.  I had simply forgotten about him.

But forgetting didn’t exorcise the wound he left behind.  It colored my thinking as I grew up, to the point where I wholly expect people to generally dislike me, hate me and ultimately reject me from their lives, their social circles, or the jobs they might offer.  Rejections piled upon rejections, and when I WASN’T rejected, I would immediately get suspicious, like there was some nefarious motive behind it.  Or I would then get really stupid and purposely act in a belligerent manner that so puts people off that they have no choice but to reject me.  Rejection was like an old, comfortable shoe, and to not be rejected put me in new territory and could make me a bit paranoid.  Because it I hadn’t been rejected now, all that meant was that I was soon going to be rejected later.  And even worse, when I least expect it too.

One of my last friendships was like that.  You hit it off, you think things are going well, but then months later, without warning, you’re just… rejected.  The friendship is over, and you’re left picking up the pieces, not knowing why.  It’s one of the reasons why I keep most people at arm’s length.  Any acceptance of me I regard with suspicion, because I believe such acceptance is false and will only result in more rejection anyway.

All this, because of past hurts that I have long since FORGOTTEN about.

Clearly forgetting wasn’t enough.  If I really wanted to prevent the hurts of the past from haunting the present and future, I needed to learn how to forgive too.  Or else, I’m going to wind up like Bob Kelso:

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