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    #249929 - 08/08/22 11:12 AM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: Val]
    giftedamateur Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/19/21
    Posts: 27
    Originally Posted By: Val

    Youíve been given wonderful advice by every person here who replied to you. The way your responses are written tells me that you need to do some growing up. This means learning to accept that working hard is an essential part of success. It means accepting that the beginner jobs you look down on are actually the foundation of the advanced ones. You may not see this yet because, lacking the essential skills that are gained from working in a fast food joint or in a retail shop, you canít see their value.

    So, the thing here is that you have to grow up. This involves accepting that your future is largely your responsibility. It involves accepting that if you want ever to feel that youíve accomplished something meaningful, youíre going to have to put in 8 hours a day. It involves accepting that nothing worth having comes easily.

    Growing up is hard. It involves throwing away many juvenile ideas in favor of accepting hard truths. This process isnít easy for anyone. I wish you well.

    Respectfully, I'm disappointed with this post. "Growing up" whenever I see it used seems to me a euphemism for abandoning your passions and accepting the harsh reality of life. The context I see it used by a lot of people my age, is where they have finally realized that going after difficult jobs is pointless, and that what the real point of life is, is to get a decent paying job, start a family and settle somewhere. This depresses me. I will admit that I haven't worked at a fast food joint, but this was by choice, because I was occupying myself with trying to get better at my interests, and because I was confident that I'd be able to get a high paying job afterwards anyway. My problem is that I have a hard time accepting that I'm not special, and no matter how hard I work, I feel like I do not have the intelligence and temperament to become a high-level researcher, musician, writer, etc. and that I'll be relegated as I always have been to "boring" programming jobs. Or other jobs which are equally mundane. You would probably argue, life is "mundane" and you need to grow up and realize it! But if life really is as mundane as I see it now, instead of giving me motivation to work harder, it's only making me depressed.

    You might think of this as being an immature viewpoint. But I don't use any of the math I learned in my entire degree. I can't use any of the writing skills I've developed over the years. I can't use my musical talent. However, because I can think logically, I can become a programmer no problem. But so what? It doesn't use any of my talents, and I just see myself atrophying over the years and wishing I was younger so I actually had the chance to find a passion and do well at it.

    The problem isn't that I don't put in 8 hours a day. If I could achieve my goals just by working 8 hours (well, ok, more like 4 hours) a day for 2-3 years, I would do it. I'm frustrated that you seem to be blaming my "laziness" to be the issue. I'm not lazy, and I wonder where my posts seemed to convey that I was. The problem is that I'm not getting anywhere no matter what I put in. You can learn any number of "average" skills, but while you might find meaning in the ordinary activities of life, I don't see why you could expect everyone else to do so as well.

    The fact that you talk about putting in 8 hours a day makes me think you've not thought this through. Diminishing returns set in pretty heavily after about 4 hours. If you mean sitting around or doing relatively menial tasks (stocking the shelves, answering email) that's fine but I don't see why that would help you attain a level of skill. On the other hand, if you can focus like a laser for 8 hours every day, that is extremely impressive to me, as I've driven myself crazy trying to do just that, but I simply can't. At some point my brain seems to get so fatigued that it becomes hard to string together coherent sentences, and this is probably after 4-5 hours. Not that I put in that amount daily, but I've tried, and it's incredibly hard.

    I can't understand how someone could seriously write what's written here after really reading my posts. I showed vulnerability (and trust me, it's not that easy to open up to strangers on a forum) by honestly expressing where my frustrations come from, because these are things I seldom mention to people I know because it would come across as whiny, and no one wants to hear how someone obviously "successful" is oh-so-depressed and feeling like a failure.
    And the response: You need essential skills gained from working at a fast food joint, nothing comes easily!!

    The problem with telling someone quite intelligent that "all jobs are worthy" is that it trivializes their existential suffering. It's like telling the protagonist in Good Will Hunting that janitors have a worthy job, and that he should "grow up" and be happy about his circumstances. I find it ridiculous, but perhaps I'm too dumb to see the merit in such an argument.

    Just to clarify, I really appreciate the other posts in the thread. It's just this one which struck a nerve.

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    #249930 - 08/08/22 11:45 AM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: aquinas]
    giftedamateur Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/19/21
    Posts: 27
    Originally Posted By: aquinas

    You might have heard the expression "hard work beats talent when talent isn't working hard." A minimum threshold of talent is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. I suspect you have met or exceeded that threshold, so effort will drive your results.

    Now that I think about it, I feel like the problem is that I don't think I quite meet this threshold. At the same time, I don't have a single overwhelming interest which I would want to pursue; instead I have multiple I'm interested in to varying degrees. Experience has taught me to be cynical and realize that passion is a fleeting thing. My experience suggests that I could have become world class at something if I had found a "calling", but because my efforts were dispersed, and perhaps because I didn't have any teachers who could teach me about the topics I enjoyed and a complete lack of any peers in my areas of interest, it did not happen and I lost interest after a few years, and somehow accepted that I would have to teach myself everything in school because no one could teach me what I wanted to learn. Which again leads me to wonder whether you should just commit to a path and stick it through, even if you don't like it, because it almost feels like a waste to let that potential slip away.

    I feel like this idea of wanting to do something well (near world-class) is so entrenched in my mind that it feels like not striving for something big goes against my very identity. While it might be somewhat unhealthy in a sense, I know just how much more miserable I was throughout school when there was no challenge, so perhaps it's for the better? In a way, I want to make up for lost time, am killing myself for it, but I'm realizing eventually that time lost is time lost, and nothing can be done about it.

    Combined with all of this is an insistence on not giving up, and a refusal to accept that there are things that can not be learned. Whenever someone says you can't learn something, I become bent on proving them wrong. And here's the thing, I usually end up learning it fairly well in some way. But the fact that others said it was impossible sticks in my head, and it becomes a moving goalpost. For example, saying "adults can't learn math" (not really true, but stick with me) can mean that adults can't figure out how to do long division, or it could mean adults can't figure out Riemannian Geometry or something if they didn't start as children. When long division comes to you easily, and so does calculus starting as an adult, you wonder -- maybe I'm just average and I misunderstood what it means to really understand math. I don't really understand math, I just know some easy tricks to calculate derivatives and integrals. But in your mind, you still can't get rid of the belief that adults can't learn math.

    I know it can be frustrating to hear me ramble about this, because it seems like I'm refusing to accept offered solutions, but I hope I'm able to convey that I'm not countering the suggestions just because I'm trying to be dense, but rather because I would be interested in hearing something which goes deeper and which is more nuanced. For example, it is trivial to state that effort is necessary and we've all heard the proverb since we were six years old, but what should you work hard for? What constitutes working hard? When do you know something is impossible even if you work hard, and when should you quit? It is the setting of priorities in your life which is the really difficult thing to do, and where you would actually need help. I mean, if someone was sitting on the couch playing video games all day, you could ask them to work hard and you'd be justified, but it's hardly reasonable advice for someone already working their a** off and getting nowhere!


    Edited by giftedamateur (08/08/22 11:49 AM)

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    #249931 - 08/08/22 10:45 PM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: giftedamateur]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Quote:
    My problem is that I have a hard time accepting that I'm not special


    You've articulated your root issue.

    Brene Brown addresses this in her book "Daring Greatly": "When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose."

    Welcome to the human condition. Life is difficult. Nobody is exempt from suffering, and most of our suffering is self-inflicted. You are not unique.

    A degree of narcissism is a normative condition in adolescence. You're now seeing yourself with some external reference for the first time, with the knowledge that you alone are responsible for what you become, and it's daunting.

    Val's advice is excellent.

    Go read the books I shared; you'll find them enlightening. If you're hungering for greatness, the wisdom of a prodigious Roman emperor and a Holocaust survivor who birthed a new field of psychiatry are difficult sources to beat. Volunteer at something you feel is beneath you and humble yourself by serving others. These actions will help you develop clarity around your internal value system. You need a rudder.

    Or, if you're a maverick, be a Bill Gates and start your own firm. Nothing is stopping you. I guarantee you'll work harder launching a firm than you ever will as an employee.

    How do you know a given choice or path is the "right" one? You don't. Life is stochastic, not deterministic. Weight the probabilities and decide.

    Also, go back and re-read Val's post with an open mind. It struck a nerve because it was accurate.

    You can do this.

    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #249932 - 08/08/22 10:50 PM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: giftedamateur]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Quote:
    I feel like this idea of wanting to do something well (near world-class) is so entrenched in my mind that it feels like not striving for something big goes against my very identity.


    The sooner you abandon this unhelpful mindset, the better.

    Somewhere in your upbringing, you've been taught some combination of the following:

    1. You are what you do
    2. You are loved or valued when you produce
    3. You don't exist when you are anything other than the best

    You now know that this messaging is damaging to your taking concrete action and sense of well-being.

    Excellence is a worthy goal, but not absent a larger purpose that informs and defines *why* you are striving. Humans live best as vectors, not scalars.

    Values sorting
    https://www.thegoodproject.org/value-sort

    Strengths inventory / ranking
    https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #249933 - 08/08/22 10:51 PM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: Val]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Originally Posted By: Val
    I think the problem here isnít about hours if practice or beginner jobs or starting something in childhood or whatever. The problem is that growing up is a very hard thing to do.

    Youíve been given wonderful advice by every person here who replied to you. The way your responses are written tells me that you need to do some growing up. This means learning to accept that working hard is an essential part of success. It means accepting that the beginner jobs you look down on are actually the foundation of the advanced ones. You may not see this yet because, lacking the essential skills that are gained from working in a fast food joint or in a retail shop, you canít see their value.

    So, the thing here is that you have to grow up. This involves accepting that your future is largely your responsibility. It involves accepting that if you want ever to feel that youíve accomplished something meaningful, youíre going to have to put in 8 hours a day. It involves accepting that nothing worth having comes easily.

    Growing up is hard. It involves throwing away many juvenile ideas in favor of accepting hard truths. This process isnít easy for anyone. I wish you well.


    Excellent post. This could have been mailed to every one of us on the cusp of adulthood, and we would all have benefited from it.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #249934 - 08/09/22 01:44 AM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: aquinas]
    giftedamateur Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/19/21
    Posts: 27
    aquinas -- I don't want to be hard on you because your sentiment is appreciated, but this is remarkably trite advice. I don't feel heard because my ideas aren't being responded to directly, and what's being responded to instead is a hypothetical idea of what I am, perhaps driven by your own experiences. I hoped for something more substantial.

    Brene Brown (I don't trust her, she has an agenda and is promoting something; I would not take it at all as an unbiased source: I agree with several of the Reddit comments here: https://www.reddit.com/r/CriticalTheory/comments/qml0tt/why_do_i_hate_brene_brown/).

    You're seeing yourself from an external standpoint for the first time... presuppositions -- I've had these kinds of thoughts ever since the beginning of college.

    1. You are what you do
    2. You are loved or valued when you produce
    3. You don't exist when you are anything other than the best

    I was never taught any of this. My parents never talked about my academics and tried their best to avoid it completely. I was the one who pushed myself.

    Welcome to the human condition. Life is difficult... again, stating the obvious and patronizing, assuming that I had actually not thought about this five years ago (I did, everyone hammers it over your head anyway.)

    Humble yourself by serving others... again, why the hell am I pronounced guilty of arrogance by default?! And who says I haven't served others? Well, I know I've helped a lot of people online -- I suppose that doesn't count because I wasn't directly interacting with marginalized sections of society.

    All in all, the tone comes across as extremely condescending, and you've made a lot of assumptions about me, without bothering to check, which are untrue.

    Val's post is useless. It asks me to accept "hard truths" without explaining how, and what kinds of truths we should accept. It could mean anything from asking you to accept you won't become an Olympic runner, to accepting that life is pointless. It proposes "getting a job" as a magical solution to seeing the value of essential skills I've missed, which seems to me a very American pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. (Plus, I have gotten a job before right out of college, just not at a fast food joint or something, but I suppose that doesn't count.) It insinuates that I'm not working hard enough, somehow ignoring the fact that I've been working harder than most people I know. And I find the "work harder" rhetoric to be very toxic, because you can then always conveniently blame the victim for their situation where they weren't working hard enough. Why won't you work 6 hours a day? 8 hours a day? 12 hours a day? I mean, come on!

    And you guys constantly refuse to respond to any explanations I try to give, perhaps as rationalizations unworthy of being contended with seriously (if you think they are, have the courage to say so openly!). Way to go, Sturgeon's law never disappoints.

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    #249935 - 08/09/22 06:40 AM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: giftedamateur]
    spaghetti Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/05/15
    Posts: 474
    If this is the way you treat people and their thoughts in real life, no wonder.

    Instead of criticizing responses from people who are taking the time to engage with you, could you consider asking questions? For example, if you feel you're being judged arrogant, ask if that's true.
    Ask if people find you arrogant and what leads them to that thought?
    The way I see it (as a parent of young DYS adults), the something you are looking for may not be found at this time in your life, and as a probably complex person, may require a lot of hard personal work on understanding yourself.
    You've shown an interest in doing the work by coming here. That's a great start. One kind of therapy we've found successful over here is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). "The Happiness Trap" is an associated book.

    People have been willing to engage with you and try to assist, and I urge you to not look for reasons to dismiss, but reasons to fully understand what has been said to you. Really, life can be that hard.


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    #249937 - 08/09/22 08:07 AM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: giftedamateur]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Giftedamateur,

    What you're currently doing isn't working, otherwise you wouldn't be here asking for advice.

    Instead of lashing out, which prolongs the suffering, sit with the discomfort and be honest with yourself.

    You have articulated your problem:

    Quote:
    My problem is that I have a hard time accepting that I'm not special


    Quote:
    It is the setting of priorities in your life which is the really difficult thing to do, and where you would actually need help.


    See the resources shared and avail yourself of them.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #249938 - 08/09/22 08:29 AM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: giftedamateur]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    Quote:
    "Growing up" whenever I see it used seems to me a euphemism for abandoning your passions and accepting the harsh reality of life. The context I see it used by a lot of people my age, is where they have finally realized that going after difficult jobs is pointless, and that what the real point of life is, is to get a decent paying job, start a family and settle somewhere.


    Growing up means accepting that hard work is an absolute entry requirement for success. It doesnít guarantee success. Itís just a requirement ó even for getting a decent job, starting a family and settling. Personally, these are not things Iíd criticize.



    Quote:
    Val's post is useless. It asks me to accept "hard truths" without explaining how, and what kinds of truths we should accept. Ö It insinuates that I'm not working hard enough, somehow ignoring the fact that I've been working harder than most people I know.


    A person can have a passion for theoretical physics, but s/heíll never become a theoretical physicist without spending a lot of time learning very difficult mathematics. The passion for physics doesnít replace the fact that a lot of the work of that learning is drudgery. Itís the same in pretty much any field, from running a restaurant to raising a child to running a business or making a movie.

    If you want the thrill of making a scientific discovery or a critically acclaimed film, you need to put in an enormous amount of effort. And a lot of that effort is dull drudgery. This is even more so if you start a business on your own: you make the decisions, but until you raise cash, you also do the cleaning and the filing and everything else.

    This is a hard truth. Accepting that success requires hard work, and then acting to achieve excellence, is the kind of thing that separates those who actually succeed from those who only think about succeeding. Stop thinking about your wings and fly.*


    Quote:
    They only spend 2-4 hours a day. But I've tried putting in more hours than that, but I fail every time because my mind does not cooperate with 8 hours of solid effort a day.


    Unless you have a condition that limits your ability to work (and Iím not asking you to reveal that if you do), if youíre putting in 2-4 hours a day, youíre not trying. Youíre pretending to try.

    Your future is yours to shape. Itís your responsibility to make things happen. While your childhood shapes who you become, it doesnít have to define it. So you didnít get to learn piano as a kid. Okay. If you want to learn to play, itís up to you to make that happen, now.

    *Paraphrased from Middlemarch.

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    #249939 - 08/09/22 10:51 AM Re: I feel like a failure [Re: Val]
    giftedamateur Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/19/21
    Posts: 27
    Originally Posted By: Val
    Itís just a requirement ó even for getting a decent job, starting a family and settling.

    It's not so necessary for getting a good job in my experience. Again, I got a fairly good job by winging it at their interview, I graduated college (which was a top college) again while putting in less than an hour each day and skipping all of my classes because I preferred to teach myself, and because I kind of disliked the study material. I see most smart people getting into jobs without working too hard. Even at jobs, if they are smart enough, they can afford to be lazy. You might be correct for the average person, but this absolutely does not hold if you have some level of giftedness imo. Which is precisely why I picked this forum, lol.

    Originally Posted By: Val

    A person can have a passion for theoretical physics, but s/heíll never become a theoretical physicist without spending a lot of time learning very difficult mathematics. The passion for physics doesnít replace the fact that a lot of the work of that learning is drudgery. This is a hard truth.

    This is not a hard truth, it is obvious. And I have no problem spending time. The problem is the sacrifices, the lack of forming relationships etc., the opportunity cost, and despite all that, the fact that I don't succeed. The hard truth is that you will never get there, that it is impossible, and that you can burn yourself and ruin your present chasing the wind. This is the hard truth I'm trying to face. I don't nearly have the numbers of hours in the day to give for everything to work out as well, so I constantly need to figure out what I'm willing to give up.

    Originally Posted By: Val

    Unless you have a condition that limits your ability to work (and Iím not asking you to reveal that if you do), if youíre putting in 2-4 hours a day, youíre not trying. Youíre pretending to try.

    The perils of being honest. This is the response everyone gives me when I tell them how hard I work. So instead, in real life, I lie about how much I work, and the results "speak for themselves" so people are none the wiser. Maybe you have never worked with the kind of intensity I'm talking about. Maybe I have a problem with concentration which limits my ability to work, and I have wondered about this when all sorts of people claim to work 8-10 hours a day. But are they honest? They almost always have nothing to show for it. On the other hand, in those 2-4 hours, I get more done than most people get done in a day, by far, because I try to *actually* work hard, not just sit at my desk. It's actual intense mental work, which most people, and from what it looks like, you as well, don't seem to understand. I don't know if I can explain it to someone who doesn't know what it means. It's actual deliberate practice. You can do grunt work for much longer.

    Originally Posted By: Val
    If you want to learn to play, itís up to you to make that happen, now.

    Feel good advice, because I cannot *make that happen now*. If I could, I wouldn't be posting here. I can get okayishly good at it, and teachers say I'm moderately to very talented depending on who you ask, but I started too late, so playing piano at a high level can not happen, by all accounts. Still, I can't help myself but try, but this is interfering heavily with my life because I need to start earning, at which point it will become even more impossible to try to learn the piano. So the question is, I suppose, should I "grow up" and accept the harsh reality that it's too late, and that I should just start earning and become your average productive member of society?

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