I was told that I shouldn’t place myself on a pedestal, and that I brag about doing things that people consider normal. I was told that I should lower myself to the level of the street, in order to be happy and satisfied. Well, that person might as well told me to change the colour of my skin.
Most of you, reading this, are Romanian and you know why I should lower my head. Because we were given a commandment that every head that stays high should be chopped until we become a people of mediocrities. We only did chose another way than the Western culture to implement this commandment. We chose the fight and extermination of those who stand tall, instead of the “hmmm, interesting” and turning our back… and to be honest our method is not so efficient.
I always felt special. I hated it and throughout my life I tried to look at ALL people as my peers. What happened was that I asked too much of them and they felt this is unfair.
After the divorce, I was able to expand my horizon, to hear many new stories, to enter worlds that were not my own, some of which I didn’t even know they existed. Slowly I had to admit to myself that I AM SPECIAL. Sometimes, after being minimized by low people, I had to force myself to believe it, because my emotions were telling me the opposite.
Words are cheap, isn’t it?! What is more important: quality or quantity?! How much of each?! How can one measure one’s performance?! The system of reference chosen is important. Do I think highly of myself on an absolute reference system?! Not at all. I would be crazy to believe that. I read books of superb humans, I had the chance to meet people who excel in their professions, I saw feasts of performance never thought on TV… But – one of the corners of The Absolute Reference Systems, Einstein – said that everything is relative (he actually told to an actor “I have a little theory about this” :))
- Am I the best system admin?! Shit, NO!!! Who knows who that is?! I met 3-4-5 people who can whoop my bottom when it comes to understanding technology. I know I had to work hard to get even where I am because it’s not my main interest and I wasn’t built to grasp technology with a blink of the eye. Yet, after working in about 14 companies in North America, I realized that I am in the top 10-15% of the professionals I met, while being paid much less than the others, above me. So I am proud of being a very reasonable priced asset.
- Is it such a big deal writing?! Nope. Many people write, some even publish, some even get awards and extremely few become best-sellers.
- Is it such a wonderful accomplishment to be handy and do things around the house: to install a fence, to put ceramic tiles, to install a toilet, or scounces?! Nope. Many men do that and that makes their women happy.
- Big deal to have a job?! Not so much… but when life and your big-mouth, and the crisis hitting technology makes you look for a job 14 times in 10 years, and when one never has more than 3 months (and that only once, and only because of a string of bad lucks – i.e. not having “secret security clearance”) it becomes somewhat of a performance. In the most unstable years, my income actually grew. But still, not one statue giving.
- Earth shattering to have a man cooking?! And not once every three weeks but every 2-3 days, from scratch many times, soup and second dish, every now and then trying something new, adding something to his book of recipes? God, NO! Many men cook and no statues are placed for them in the public square and it’s good they don’t do that. And who is the judge of the quality of cooking?! Others but still, the biggest critic is ME.
- Investing with some success ?!Knowing what you are doing instead of just buying on a rumour is a good thing, yet it isn’t something stellar.
- Losing weight, 12 kg, 24 lbs and keeping it off for 3 years?! Losing it when I was the most depressed in my life, when nothing had a meaning and I was doing this because a dying voice of reason was telling me that I have to do it, because nothing has any meaning after all.
- Cleaning and cleaning well, basic mechanic for the cars, good taste in movies, books and interior design…
BUT HOW ABOUT ALL TOGETHER?! I know I am mediocre… but I can only compare myself with the people around me, the ones whose lives I know well. Without trying to minimize them, I know that while many are good or even exceptional at a number of things, few encompass so many qualities which MAKES ME EXCEPTIONAL and I will not allow anybody say it different.
How can I prove it though?! Oh, I know, there is only one thing that people believe easily: NUMBERS!!!
In US there were, in 2007, 44,000 registered self-employed, published authors. This was the only number I could get but it’s a generous one because I will extrapolate this to the entire planet, and one has to keep in mind that not many nations have so much publishing space available. That means only 0.014% of the world population has published their writings. That gives a whopping number of 94 million people (gosh, wayyy too many but then again open your local newspaper and you’ll see what kind of them!). Out of these how many were recognized through national awards?! Hmmmm – a statistic that I am not able to find. Do you think that 30% is a number too restrictive?! Personally I believe that 30% is a large number yet I am inclined to err in the direction non profitable for me. That puts me in the regal place of being one of 31 million people who published and were recognized officially for this.
How many of these are planning, shopping AND cooking?! A 1998 statistic (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9739799) shows that 23%, 36%, 27% are respectively doing so. Ok, so we hit again the 30% rate as an average of men cooking. That elevates me to one in 10 million people of Earth. We’re not even going to enter the area “how many of them are cooking GOOD?!” What?! Don’t include women?! But it’s the same – read here: http://uclue.com/?xq=1501 – that says that in the advanced world only about 30% cook regularly.
How many of these would ever change the brakes on their cars?! (no, I will not ask how many of these have cars). 10%?! Yes, many males do maintenance work on their cars, or even thorough repairs. Think though about the ones you know personally – how many of them are deep thinkers?! 🙂 I think 10% is again a very generous assessment. Thus I find myself in a the very exclusive “MILLION CLUB”.
I don’t even want to go further and adjust for self-directed investors, because I am quite happy with this result. GODDAM, I just proven that I have the RIGHT to ARROGANCE.
I will conclude with another ranting about Romanians – so, please, other nations, turn your eyes away. We like to minimize the others and their accomplishments just so we feel better about ourselves and the lack of certified merits. We kick the ones who do a little bit better than ourselves and say “what’s the big deal” to even things and accomplishments we never even tried to achieve. The envy that I feel seeing someone rise above myself, I always used it to push myself further, to see if I cannot match those achievements (but only if I think worthy; you’ll not see me eager to eat 50 hot-dogs in 2 minutes).
Should I wait for others to praise me and my accomplishments?! Sure, that would be the decent thing to do! But don’t rush to judge unless you were raised in Romanian culture. If not, you don’t know how hurtful it is to have a mom who, when asked why she never praises me she said “I’d rather have others praise my son, than think I am a fool for praising him just because he is my son” (true line from my mother’s mouth). I waited 37 years for my mom to say something nice, to praise me for my achievements, to trust me to make the right decisions, and I wanted it on the account of proven track of record. It only happened after the divorce, when my mom praised me for cooking a soup and, more recently, for neatly arranging clothes in my luggage. I waited 13 years, while I was married, for my ex to say “You are AMAZING!”… and mean it. She said it once or twice but on longer scrutiny she laughed loud. Last year I installed concrete slabs under my deck – by myself I moved 15 tons of earth, crushed stone, sand and slabs… I basked in the admiration of my Canadian friends who were impressed but from Romanians I only got indications that I am cheap and “that corner is not quite rounded” and so on. I am sick and tired of waiting for Romanians to admit that I am pretty good and I will not let anymore, anybody, say I am common!
Yet, I know – “Nobody can be a prophet in his own land” – and we’ll (at least, “we, the Romanians” – as far of them as I feel I cannot deny my roots) always miss the endearment, the pat on the back followed by “good job” exactly from those people from whom we need it most! You see?! I am not that arrogant, after all.