Saturday, September 04, 2004

Trappings Of An Ego

When you're young, you think you're immortal. One day you will find it's not exactly so. My failing health has made that notion painfully clear since the last couple of months and drained me of some of my simple-minded vitality. Perhaps that relentless need to keep pushing on is one of the reasons to my recent ailments: in the way of psychosomatic symptoms. I'm a combination of physical frailty and a sort of mental vitality, I think.

I'm afraid to say I'm a bit of a narcissistic personality, though I can't claim to draw attention to myself through my pretty face, handsome body, my person or my external habitus, but through the things I do. I'm very much a "you are what you do and anything else doesn't matter" person. That's probably because of my upbringing, the environment I grew up in, and so on. There was (and is) a certain pressure around me all the time to be ambitious, to "do things in life" but on the other way, to conform. One grows up under conflicting forces, each of them pushing in different directions; the result being one becomes a cracked personality, slightly at least. And if one intends to stay "whole", there seems to be no other option than "The Great Refusal". The refusal not to conform, the refusal to follow no other path which is not of one's own choosing only, the refusal not to do things because "everyone else" is doing them. And that refusal can make one's life very hard, though admittedly, interesting too. Double bind, double bind, double bind.

One of the basic traits of my personality is, I think, that I thrive on people's admiration, and feel crushed if I receive any negative feedback or no attention at all. Yes, another ego trap. That's probably a major reason why I stopped my academic studies: I felt like a total nobody at the university. I only managed to get some positive attention with my extracurricular activities: when I started pHinnWeb.

Let me tell here about Finnish culture. Here in Finland being modest, not boasting or making a fuss of oneself, is considered a virtue. Which is to cause certain friction with today's international culture of emphasizing the meaning of the individual's virtues; in other words, the current "Me Me Me" cult of business and entertainment! No wonder I feel awkward all the time when I ought to be doing "PR" for myself, and on the other hand, when the domestic culture around me doesn't exactly accept that sort of behaviour. Another double bind.

I think I'm a very utilitaristic person; I just can't "hang out" with people and talk niceties with them unless I can feel it serves a certain purpose. Otherwise I get bored, become uninterested. Are people there for me just to be used, for different purposes serving myself; do they not have any meaning to me just as themselves? It is a very grim thought, but I can't get rid of it. Sometimes I feel there's something very unhuman in me: as if I was only some sort of a machine, which has to keep rolling on for a certain goal, and everything else along the road would be just a vehicle to reach that goal...

Again, do not think that I would accept here submitting to the role of a typical psychobabble therapy talk victim. I know I possess a strong tendency to introspection, to psychoanalyze myself all the time (which can get tedious, I admit); perhaps that constant need to reassess myself is there to save me from the worst excesses of selfishness, being ego-centred, narcissism, of becoming an unfeeling psychopathic monster. Perhaps...

I only wish now I was in a better physical health. Gentlemen don't talk about their health problems, but then, I guess I'm not a gentleman (add big smiley here).