Monday, November 19, 2012
A Madness in the Method
I was an awkward kid. Social interaction was a maze to me. Every turn was a blind corner. Dead ends were an all too common occurrence This seemed to hang on well into my 20's. I seemed to have a gift for saying the wrong thing. Unintended offense was my forte. It was grueling at times. I always believed I should be able to enjoy people, but never seemed to successfully pull it off. Couple this with my innate, but not yet fully realized ability to read people and picture of "life in my head" during those years begins to form. I knew when I'd messed up. I could tell when I bothered people. I knew who liked me and who didn't, regardless of their efforts to obfuscate their true opinion. I knew the what but not the why.
With time, I learned. Decades of trial and error were a cruel tutor, but I learned. Cards on the table....I'm still learning. I've discovered that the trial and error process has become an unconscious part of my way of being. I'm forever honing my methods. The methods have evolved from largely generic, to demographics based, to individualized.
Here's the punchline. At 45, I'm told that I "have a natural way with people". There's nothing natural about it. The methods are quite refined. The algorithms run with honed precision. I fool most of you.
The fear that once surrounded interpersonal interaction has been replaced with a fear of being discovered. I have amazing friends. They are a beautiful pallet of demographics and personalities. They're smart and observant. Herein lies the problem and the blessing. I live in constant fear of having my patterns discovered. True friends who discover the mechanism embrace it as part of me and move on. We even share a few laughs about it. Those in the "outer layers of the onion" have produced mixed results. I'm still working on being comfortable with who I am regardless of their reactions.
How does this apply to raising my sons? I help them cheat. I teach them where the pitfalls and shortcuts are. I can't protect them from walking my path at all, but I can keep them off of as much of it as possible.