Strings

A professor of mine here at the University of Illinois was explaining the idea of guanxi today, basically pulling strings and using friends or relationships to get what you want. I’ve felt a lot of strings pulling me lately, but I haven’t been using guanxi.

I feel the strings of a better me pulling me from where I am to where I could be, and I see myself constantly cutting them, constantly letting them down.

Everyone important to me sees someone else in me. It’s easier that way, I think, but also somehow disappointing. I don’t want to be thought of as someone else. I don’t want to be held up to another person’s standards. I don’t want to fail another rubric. I don’t want…

…to try any harder? To do even just what’s expected of me? To be any less selfish?

For too long, I have associated responsibility, authority, and failure with fear. “I’m not afraid of failing,” I’d say. “I’m not afraid of anything you do to me,” I’d say. “I’m not afraid of letting anyone down, even myself. I’ve…gotten used to it…”

I think I have to stop thinking about fear. Because it’s cutting the strings that are pulling me up.

  • Stop being a mike liu, meaning stop stretching yourself too thin. It's much better to be responsible and on task for a few things vs. late and half assing many. And the question really now is, why are you doing these things? Mike does it because he wants to be involved and feels obligated to do things for TIA, TASC, etc because he has friends in each. My suggestion, do what you want, and only what you want. Learn to say no, a real firm no.Your real friends will understand and won't push it when they know ur serious. When your stretched too thin, the fun stuff starts to feel like a chore, and life just doesn't seem to be worth it then.

  • I agree; you have to let go of your fears.

    Don't feel guilty, either. Don't feel like you're a failure because you're imperfect. We all have room for improvement, and in any case the emotion of guilt isn't really helpful. There's a difference between guilt and the desire for self-improvement.

    Don't feel apathetic, either. Don't pretend like you're completely satisfied even when you're not. Don't get used to failure, in the sense of giving up.

    There's a false dilemma between those last two. I know; I've experienced it myself. I feel like I can either beat myself up and succeed, or I can spare myself the beating and fail. I am too often victim to the illusion that “Pain equals Progress”, and that I cannot progress without hurting myself, and I cannot avoid pain without failure. And furthermore, the illusion states that if I am in pain, surely I must be progressing. That's what kept me in ridiculous stress during high school; I assumed that all my pain would be worth it. It wasn't.

    Later I found myself avoiding my own goals, because to accomplish a goal is “progress”, so I assumed that it meant “pain”.

    It's complicated. And perhaps your situation is different than mine; I don't know.

    What I'm saying is: there's a third way. There's a way to improve yourself without hating yourself. Indeed; self-love (in a non-arrogant way) is a vital part of self-improvement.

  • I agree; you have to let go of your fears.

    Don't feel guilty, either. Don't feel like you're a failure because you're imperfect. We all have room for improvement, and in any case the emotion of guilt isn't really helpful. There's a difference between guilt and the desire for self-improvement.

    Don't feel apathetic, either. Don't pretend like you're completely satisfied even when you're not. Don't get used to failure, in the sense of giving up.

    There's a false dilemma between those last two. I know; I've experienced it myself. I feel like I can either beat myself up and succeed, or I can spare myself the beating and fail. I am too often victim to the illusion that “Pain equals Progress”, and that I cannot progress without hurting myself, and I cannot avoid pain without failure. And furthermore, the illusion states that if I am in pain, surely I must be progressing. That's what kept me in ridiculous stress during high school; I assumed that all my pain would be worth it. It wasn't.

    Later I found myself avoiding my own goals, because to accomplish a goal is “progress”, so I assumed that it meant “pain”.

    It's complicated. And perhaps your situation is different than mine; I don't know.

    What I'm saying is: there's a third way. There's a way to improve yourself without hating yourself. Indeed; self-love (in a non-arrogant way) is a vital part of self-improvement.