no middle ground

November 4th, 2006

For a lot of people, 'normal' seems to be the holy grail. A lot of people want to be normal and don't like to stick out. To me, more often than not, being 'normal' is sort of not good enough. This is certainly not the rule for every aspect of life, but in many ways I just don't find myself on the middle ground. And I don't want to either. I do too much of something or not enough. I do something early or too late. And as far as I remember, I've always been this way. Of course, there are outside pressures, influences. But if I want to be 'true to myself', this is who I am.

When comparing myself to other people, I always want to be better. Feeling 'equal' doesn't really do anything for me, unless it's aspiring to be equal to a group of people I consider beyond my level, in whatever sense. This comes to fore in the most obvious way in a sports context, where direct competition and vindication is clearcut. So I tend to try hard if I think I can be better than someone. On the other hand, if it is obvious that I can't, I don't really try. This doesn't have to be an instant thing, I've often times played sports with people far better and tried to gradually reach their level. But if I don't believe that I can, then I don't see why I should even try. So I don't really apply myself.

There is no way I could articulate this conviction, and as such I don't really think it is a conviction on any logical grounds. It is just an instinct that lies within. And it isn't necessarily to do with competition either. A lot of the time, the pride for doing something well comes from doing more than the norm. More, or better, than what is considered to be sufficient, or 'good'. That doesn't mean I consistently do so, my lazy side counters that instinct and often times I end up doing too little, which feels like failure. On the other hand, doing 'just enough' doesn't seem to have any kind of vindication. The only thing I feel is that 'I've done it' and it's over, because I know it is. But I don't feel happy about it, I don't feel fulfilled. There's a lot of things I've done 'just okay', like getting a driver's license or graduating from high school. But I don't feel any pride about those. It feels like I did what I had to, and had I not done it I would have failed. But I don't deserve credit for doing 'just alright'. Even if it is something that matters a lot. Conversely, I take pride in doing things well, even small things. And I sometimes remember them for a long time.

I suppose it is a passion, coupled with a fairly one tracked mind. When I like something, I immerse myself in it. I remember when I was a kid and I was just beginning to play sports. 'Play sports' doesn't really describe what a four year old, or a six year old, does. But that's where it begins. And every time I played something, like kicking a ball back and forth, the other person would always want to stop before I did. I always wanted to go on. Finally, after about the third time of asking, I would agree to stop. I always wanted to keep playing. And I can trace that right back into the present. I still want to keep playing when others have had enough. And I still want to keep doing something after others have quit. Of course, provided it's going well. I don't blindly do the same thing over and over when I don't feel that I'm getting somewhere. But that just comes right back to the notion that there is no 'just enough'. There's either 'not enough' or 'too much'. In school we used to have 'ski day', the whole school skiing once a year. I loved those days. We would be up there from about 10 to 2 in the afternoon. That was when school ended ordinarily, so ski day would too. I always wanted to stay on. This was tricky, you had to get a note from your parents saying they let you stay longer and take the later bus home. (My parents never minded, but I was never good at remembering these little bureaucratic twists.)

Always wanting to do more. Countered by a strong force of inertia. If I do less, I feel like a failure. If I do just enough, I don't feel any pay off. Then there are things I never really wanted to do, but it's a necessity. Like cooking. I do just enough and I don't even think about it as enjoyment or achievement of any kind. It's just something to get over with.

There is no middle ground.

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3 Responses to "no middle ground"

  1. Jack says:

    Hmm, I don't know what are you getting about here really, but I do enjoy cooking so much. The process gives me pleasure and as of late I stopped following recipes and just let my instinct carry me.

  2. erik says:

    I don't think there is a middle ground at all. Only the willpower (or call it whatever you want to call it) to motivate yourself for something you initially feel nothing for.

    Enthusiasm isn't a solid factor you feel towards one thing, but not towards the other. You have to light it like a fire. Even if it's not always easy.

  3. numerodix says:

    Your pyromaniac approach doesn't register with me. I can't fuel enthusiasm if I don't already feel something about that particular activity to begin with. I can try, but it doesn't work. It takes a lot to get excited about something that you don't really like, for instance someone with a real passion who inspires you. But even those kinds of people have rarely had the impact on me.