On Mental Independence

To be human is to be individual. Although all humans share a common humanity (that’s why they’re called “humans“), and this fact is used to consider individual human beings as part of a collective, the truth of the matter is that each human is an individual at the core of his or her being.

To be an “individual”, one must have a mind, which creates thoughts, desires, and plans and takes action. Among these desires is a sense of belonging among fellow humans. Humans have an intrinsic social need: a need to be accepted on some level. We are created in such a way as to need communication, both in speaking and in listening. The thoughts, desires, plans, and actions among humans differ. This is another characteristic of humanity, and a byproduct of the fact that humanity is composed of “individual” humans. If humans were not individual in nature, but were rather homogeneous, such as atoms sharing the exact same molecules and molecular structures, then concepts such as the ones mentioned above would be mute.

But, as it stands, humans are individual in nature; and individual with a desire for sociability and beloningness.

With the individual nature of the thoughts, desires, plans, and actions of humans, comes many influences. Although each person has his or her own will, that does not mean that our wills are not influenced by external forces (forces outside of our bodies). Other humans influence through their words, actions, etc. We react to each other. And we are reacted to when we react.

But despite all of this complicated interplay among humans, there is still a desire to be individual. To be independent. To be one’s own person. And this is not to say that in order for one to be an individual, one must not be influenced by outside forces. For this would be impossible. In that case, babies must not learn, because almost all of the knowledge that they obtain comes from outside forces.

And, in fact, it is impossible to not be independent. This is another aspect of our humanity: being individual in nature, we are inherently independent.

So what is all of this about?

To preface this, I would say that given all of the concepts and ideas that very intelligent people have communicated throughout mankind’s history, I have no expectations that my own ideas will have any influence that I would deem significant. Sure, if one person is influenced in a manner that we both deem positive, it could be argued that that would be “significant”, because the well-being of each and every person on the planet is important.

But you get my point.

However, for whatever reason, I have a natural desire to think and express my thoughts.

My thoughts, as are everyone else’s, are independent.

And one of my desires is to write my thoughts down.

I have no explanations as to why my thoughts may be of superior objective quality to anyone else’s thoughts, so I’m not going to attempt to argue that here.

And if you were to ask me how I could characterize my thoughts generally, I could only come up with vague descriptions such as “unique” (which isn’t very unique, by the way).

However, I have them, and I think them. And they exist.

Next, I have a natural desire to express those thoughts. I have a feeling that my thoughts have enough quality to be shared to others (and some agree with me and some disagree with me). And so, I share them. And I share them and I share them and I share them, in the hopes that someone can receive them and say “Hmm…he’s got a good point. I never thought of it that way.” Or “You know, I’ve always thought the same thing, but he elaborated upon my original thought in an effective way.”

Don’t misunderstand me here: I’m not simply looking for praise for praise’s sake. If you will recall what I stated earlier, I have thoughts which I think are worth sharing, and a desire to share them. It’s not so people can tell me how smart I am. It’s more than that. It’s just who I am. It’s just me. It is me to think, think that my thoughts are of fairly intelligent quality, and then attempt to share those thoughts with others in the hope that people can make sense of them and, even perhaps, learn something.

And, once again, this isn’t to try to “prove” to people how smart I am.

It’s just naturally who I am.

Once again, you may be asking yourself:

What is his fucking point?

I’ll try to begin explaining that to you now.

I have always struggled with being mentally independent. At least in some ways. There are some ideas that I would say I have “independently” (meaning void of any anxiety-peer pressure driven acceptance), and some that I do not. I have no way of describing any defining criteria between the two, because I’m not sure if there is any, besides just a recognition that one is one and the other is the other.

But, at least for me, it is extremely difficult to be mentally independent in a way that I would consider to be “independent”. I have always attributed this difficulty to two things: a desire to understand objective truth, and assuming that people are well-intentioned.

Let me explain what I mean a little bit further. I’ve always loved learning. I love knowing truths. I think many people share those same loves. So, I’ve always tried to absorb knowledge, from whatever I could. To be mundane, this would include anyone speaking to me (as a child: keep this in mind); basically, any form of information that I absorbed through multiple forms of media (books, magazines, etc.). And, I always assumed that people were telling the truth. Or, at least trying to. But I encountered a couple of problems along the way, which I couldn’t begin to comprehend until I got older.

The first problem that I encountered was that some people are just fucking stupid. I kind of knew this when I was younger, but I almost felt bad for knowing this truth (sympathy for them because they were stupid), so I tried to ignore this truth so that I didn’t feel like a bad person. But the truth is the truth. Acknowledging that a stupid person is stupid is simply that: an acknowledgement that a stupid person is stupid. That in and of itself is not necessarily a value judgment upon said person. It is simply an undeniable fact. This was very hard for me to accept when I was younger.

I always wanted everyone to be the best at everything, but people are just different, and differ in ability, desires, etc. I felt bad when I felt like I had an advantage in, say, intelligence, as opposed to someone else. Just a general sadness. It wasn’t fair that they were born less intelligent than I was. And I didn’t think it was fair because I knew of the advantages one would have when one is intelligent, and neither of us really had any control in our respective intelligences. We were created that way through genetics and our environment, and didn’t have much (if any) say so in the matter. That was always soul-crushing to me.

Likewise, I felt bad for people who were physically disabled. I could go on and on and on about the things that I felt sorry for.

And although I still feel that sympathy in many different respects (nowadays, it more manifests itself towards criminals), I, through what I can only attribute to age, experience, and various lessons people have tried to teach me along the way, have learned to accept (at least, more so than I used to) the differences in advantageous and disadvantageous traits and life experiences from one human being to another.

But one thing that I’m not content with my grasp on is my own personal mental, ideological independence.

I realize that, at the time of this writing, it is only 5 days until my 24th birthday (it, apparently, took me over a year to finish this). And I realize that’s a pretty young age to expect “complete mental independence” (for lack of a better phrase due to laziness). But still, one area of my life that I would like to develop is mental independence. All humans, as they age from children, to adolescence, to adulthood, wish to be mentally independent. Once again, it’s part of our nature. But I think I have a way of expressing this more effectively than most (although there are surely writers who could communicate this more effectively than I).

I realize this is a very humorous thing to say, but the thing that scares me the most about independence is the responsibility. I just don’t fucking trust myself. I know how I am. I remember my history. I remember my mistakes, and how devastating they were for me. The more I tried to control a situation, the more shitty it became. Once I “shirked responsibility”, the shit was still there. But it was more manageable. I could just ignore it until it went away. The idea of being in control never appealed to me. There were several things outside of my control (such as the relationship between my parents), and the more I tried to control something, the more shitty I felt when things didn’t go my way. So, I just accepted the shittiness. And that was really hard to do. There is nothing more devastating than feeling like you have done a good job, only to find out that you hadn’t. I feel like this was the case for me in school a lot. I was a smart student, and I wouldn’t say that this disappointment was the majority of the time, but when it happened, it seemed to cripple me. For instance, reading the wrong chapter for homework. That type of failure was always crippling to me. Why? Why couldn’t I just say “Woops”, and move on? I think a part of it had to do with always being told how smart I was by teachers, and hearing my mom talk to other people about me. I just set my own personal standards too high (especially for my age). I couldn’t tolerate mistakes. And it all ate me alive.

The carefree attitude saved me, although it also caused a lot of problems. Instead of feeling like shit for not getting the grade I wanted, or for making a mistake, I just stopped caring. I stopped caring about my grades. Luckily, I didn’t flunk everything. But straight As went to Bs and Cs really quickly. And I was content with that. I didn’t care about school anymore. The subjects were boring, and I already knew what it was like to “Ace” everything. Why did I need to continue doing that? I didn’t know. And, so, I stopped trying as much.

But even when I did try, I still made mistakes. And it made me angry. So, I “ragequit” again. That has been my modus operandi for a long time now: just quitting everything. Barely getting by. The idea of college was terrifying to me when I was in high school. “You mean I’m going to have to decide what I’m going to do with my entire life? I can’t even remember what page I was supposed to read for homework!” I had zero confidence in myself as a decision maker. I believe, knowing my history, this was justified. My “decision” was to coast, and I know I got pretty lucky along that coast. But still, I made the “decision” to coast, and it seemed to work out (in some areas). Of course, every decision will lead to mistakes somewhere, and this was certainly the case for me.

Coasting has worked out for me, but I think it is, at least to a significant degree, at its end. “The writing is on the wall.” I can see, pretty clearly, what my main option is for the future. It is in contrast with what I dream to do. I will probably have to do both simultaneously, and it is very probable that my dreams are going to be opposed to what it is that I ultimately have to do. My only option is to try to do both simultaneously until the dream can become the job, and that is uncertain (unlikely, most would say. I know I won’t succeed without optimism, however). All of my thoughts need to develop over time. I have to figure out how I want them to develop. I’m still so anxious about what it is that I want to do that this anxiety freezes me. I want to write about “big” things. And when I try to go down the path of thinking about them, I become anxious. Either because I don’t have everything that I want to say figured out, or I start thinking about after the piece becomes completed, and what is going to happen. It is hard to concentrate. In my opinion, I think this is a good thing in several ways. I am cognizant of the sands of time ticking away. I realize that the journey is long. Doing what I want to do is going to be really fucking hard. And it is all for an uncertainty. It is hard to concentrate when these factors constantly occupy your mind. The only saving grace from this as far as the work is concerned is the joy that you obtain from doing the work. But I don’t want to treat my work as digging in the sand with a stick. I treat my work as a future career. That’s my attitude. “How is it going to work?” “How can you expect to-” blah blah blah. I don’t care to listen to your concerns, regardless of your motivations.

I want to write my thoughts down. This means that they need to be developed. This just takes fucking time. Learning takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of labor. It’s just hard to learn something. It’s even harder to write about something. I think that all writers are “teachers”. When you write something, you want to impart ideas to the reader. You want these ideas to be beneficial to the reader. You don’t want to have the reader say “Yeah yeah yeah, I already know this”, and stop reading what you wrote. You want the reader to say “Huh. That’s good.” That’s hard to do. There’s so many good writers out there that the prospect of you being a good teacher is slim. But, once again, that’s where the love of the work comes into play. In a sense, it doesn’t matter how good of a teacher I am. Even if I’m a shitty teacher, I’m going to keep writing. I’ll keep getting bad reviews, but I’ll keep fucking writing. Because I love to do it. I firmly believe that persistence is what I’m going to need to succeed as much as I can succeed, whatever level that ultimately happens to be. I would encourage everyone to write about how shitty I am as a “writer” or a “teacher”. Start your own blog called “Cody Alan Reel SUCKS”, and lay forth your arguments as to why I’m a lazy fucking sexist neckbeard who lives in his mom’s basement and is going to be flipping hamburgers (1, 2) his whole life. Maybe you’ll end up being right. Don’t you want to be among the first to be able to take credit for your predictions?

Of course, if one is going to take action, one must assume responsibility. There’s always some difficulty with this. Even when one takes responsibility, there is a guilt that comes with it. Or a somberness, when facing punishment. I can’t say that I’ve ever had, nor kept, many responsibilities in my life. The fact that I’m struggling to think of them really signifies that to me. I would characterize myself as a “weasel”: I’m always able to “weasel” my way out of things. I’m thinking something like chores. I never really did them. For one, some of them didn’t make sense (and still don’t). For instance, making one’s bed, or cleaning one’s room. Making one’s bed makes zero sense to me. It gets messed up every night. It doesn’t matter how it looks in the morning. And as far as one’s room goes: well, it’s my room. Sure, my parents owned the house. But it was still my room. The toys are going to come right back out the next day. So why not just leave them out? It still doesn’t make any sense to me. Authoritarianism is not a valid argument. Why should I put the toys away? “Because I said so” should never suffice for a youngster. If you can’t explain why something needs to be done, then it doesn’t need to be done. Teach your child how to reason: not how to fear authority. I’ve weaseled my way out of many other things besides chores, but I won’t get into them all now (chores were certainly a significant part of it; especially early on in life).

I suppose I should talk about things that I was “responsible” for in the past: namely, times in which I got in trouble. There were plenty of fights with my brother that I was responsible for. But the main thing I can think of for getting in trouble and being “responsible” for is porn. I don’t recall a time where I felt like I was “in trouble” before it came to porn. Looking back on it, there was definitely an overreaction. So I drew some pictures of boobs as a kid. Why do I need to see a guidance counselor because of that? So I planned on bringing some porn over to a friend’s house. What’s wrong with that? I can’t describe the embarrassment when I was “discovered”. I can’t even remember what was said to me at the time, I was so embarrassed. All I remember was the porn fell out of my shirt, I didn’t get to go over to my friend’s house, my mom called my friend’s parents and apparently he was asked about the porn, and I don’t know what else happened. I think they really made a big stink out of nothing. Maybe that was just my young mind overreacting due to embarrassment, but it seems to have been made a bigger deal than it actually was. So I was “responsible” for drawing pictures of boobs and trying to take porn over to a guy’s house. Big deal. (I can’t remember exactly how old I was at the time. I think I was in my very early teens: maybe even 12). I think this is partly why I still have a problem with “responsibility”: inconsistent, nonsensical parenting. My mother certainly provided a lot of that, and confused the Hell out of me. Then, there was the parents fighting, pitting one against the other, then, as a kid, I had to “take sides”, yadda yadda yadda. Except it wasn’t like a regular divorce with two “normal” parents: at least one of them was insane.

I seem to be finding it harder and harder to write about anything. I would hope that I become a better reader and editor as time goes along, but I continually find that things that I wish to write about overlap so much that distinguishing between things to separate them into “pieces” becomes very difficult. It truly feels like I just want to write about my life, my one life, and it is hard to write about my “life” in separate pieces. It is hard to decide how to frame each piece, or to keep it “on track”, when I feel like there are so many things that I want to say that intertwine.

One of the hardest things for me to deal with with regards to mental independence is how to handle other peopleother people. I envision someone screaming dumb things at me an inch from my face. Or punching me in the face. I desire to express myself honestly. And I accept that there will be people that hate it. But some of those crazies will think it is a good idea to stab me in the stomach. That’s the risk you have to take when you wish to speak honestly. (Or when your sense of humor is as fucked up as mine is). But it certainly occupies a significant portion of my thinking when I desire to write something, or do something.

One good thing about getting older is that you start to learn who, in your past, was wrong. As I write this, I think of the times that I tried to write in my mid-to-late teens. Writing was so much harder back then. Who was I writing for? I didn’t know. Well, myself, obviously. But who was going to read it? I had no idea. The few that did read it made me feel very self-conscious. I don’t think the small sample size understood what I was trying to say (and clearly, my inability to articulate myself had a significant role in this). But what changed in those 9, 10 years? Why am I so much different today than I was then? It bugs me that this development is “out of my control”. It just happened. Naturally. I just naturally became a better writer because I got older (and practiced a little bit). My language skills got better just because I had more experience, my brain chemistry is different, etc. That’s such an annoying, hopeless position to be in. To just be stuck as a shitty writer, with the only “saving grace” being time. That’s so fucked up. Why can’t I be the best writer that I will ever be right now? Sure, that thought frightens me. But why can’t I be at my max level all of the time? Why must I grow? Why can’t I control my growth? That tortures me. There are some things that become worse the more that you try to control them. That is a significant theme throughout my life. I have accepted it, and have become moulded by that philosophy. And, in my opinion, it is completely justified based on my history. It is how I have found my personal level of “contentment”. But it eats me alive sometimes to have development out of my control. Sure, it isn’t completely out of my control: because I desire to write, and thus, write, it will inevitably get better over time with practice. So what I’m getting better at is within my control. But so many things aren’t. And it is those that bug me.

I deplore when I realize that I was wrong in the past. I’ve had some pretty weird viewpoints about life that are really hard to put into words. I think that is what my mission shall be: trying to explain my past ways of looking at the world. I think they’re quite interesting, and I don’t care if you disagree with me. It is really weird, the things you think when you are extremely mentally dependent. Some really fucked up things can happen very easily. It is quite frightening.

Once again, there are so many different directions that I could take this that I find it hard to decide which way to go. I had certain mindsets in my past that I maintained, even if all they produced was failure. My mind was constantly focused on Hell. And so, naturally, the thought of Hell affected almost all of my perspectives about everything. I don’t really need to lay them out here: it’s the same old suspects. But some of them truly are odd. The way it affected my overall perspective is so strange. It produced this deep skepticism that still remains to this day. It was an ethical skepticism: “Is this person a Christian? Is this person a Christian? Is this person a Christian?” The skepticism that remains today isn’t about whether or not a particular person is a Christian. But my cynicism definitely remains. And it is so odd to me. Over and over, I find people to be trustworthy. But I’m still painfully cynical. I’m content with quite a bit of my cynicism, but I find myself in situations often where I’m asking myself “Why am I being so cynical right now? What has this guy done to me?” It is a conservative hangover. It’s very fucking odd.

I am looking forward to my confidence building over time. “Coasting” has been my saving grace. I’ve been very lucky. I don’t handle failure very well. And it has always seemed like the more I have tried to fix something, the worse it made it. But my philosophy has changed over time, and I’ve “settled in” to something that works for me. That’s what we all long after: just that way of moving throughout the world that satisfies us the most. I think I’m pretty good right now with what I have. I want to explain it and elaborate on it more throughout time. And, of course, I hope to be able to write about more subjects, and just get better overall. I’m confident that it will happen with time and practice, even if there are many things that I write that I end up not happy with, for various reasons.

I love writing, and I just look forward to becoming a better thinker. I accept the fact that I’m repetitive, but I believe it is all related. In my heart, I believe that every “repetition” is a building block upon an entire life’s work. I can’t ask someone “Hey, do you think this builds upon this? Or did I just repeat myself?” I have to interpret my work how I wish. And I need to make my work fully my own, to my full potential. That’s (one of) the lifetime challenges……

I want to be a good thinker. And I want to be able to say “Hey, here are my thoughts.” I hope they can be received honestly. And that’s all that I can hope for from them (besides the dreams of them somehow paying the light bill down the road).

A Declaration of Independence.

Education.

A Philosopher’s Mind.

Highly Sensitive Mind.

Analyzing My Decision-Making.

Religio.

My poetry.

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