Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thinking About How We Think (by Nani)

In the latter half of the Summer of 2000, Dec was just a little over one, and I - just having experienced my birthday - was 33. Things were going downhill (personally) at work, and I didn't care to make it stop. I let it roll and tested my flexibility in how far I could allow myself to bend over. [OMG, I'm ROTFLMFAO]

It's true... Once I found out how far I was being manipulated and maligned behind my back, I tried to just let it go. But it wasn't to be. You see, things have a way of being drawn out of me. Even without my conscious consent. I was being lead and pushed towards another level of self-awareness - without being fully aware of it. That's the freakin' kicker. I found out that a co-worker, that I hired, had been deprecating my abilities to my development team , thus challenging my authorita. Deprecating because it depreciated my worth as a manager over both the design and development teams, leaving me the loyalty of the former alone. Ironically, in software development, it means "to mark as obsolete to warn against its use in the future so that it may be phased out." Yes, that was me at the time, and I didn't even know it.

So, this is what happened after the smooth, egomaniacal, falsely modest, sexist front-for-a-man became my arch nemesist. [a word now from my ego] I took a lesser position in the company doing what I enjoyed doing: meeting and cooperating with technical teams from [blah blah blah yawn] companies that had really massive, cutting edge technology that could add to our own Answer Engine. [double-long yawn] It pacified me, or rather my ego, for a couple of months, until I realized I needed to leave. My time there had come and gone, and I wanted to be obsolete.

I tell people nowadays that I looked at the deepest part - or so I thought because it was deeper than I had ever dared go before- of my core belief and felt something was wrong. All of a sudden I recalled the signs that I had recorded, but not analyzed. They had passed me by because I was so focused on doing as much as I could to maintain my self-worth in that company. Just to maintain. And yet, I missed my baby. Both of them. Mike and I worked together, but the most we could hope for was going out together for a dinner with a client or our closer colleagues. I could feel my window of being the mom and person I wanted to be... just slipping away.

And so, I pulled away from the part of my self that wanted to be near the top of the heap with accolades and small pieces of glory here and there - you know, the kind that doesn't matter in ten or twenty years because your kids are all messed up from not having enough experiential bonding, truthful communication and unconditional love. I did not want to be what I set out to be. It wasn't worth becoming like them. Clawing, manipulating, politicizing, criticizing... all to make themselves appear better than the others. To separate themselves from the rest. To deceitfully control others by knowing their nature and exploiting it to their advantage. It's a wicked game. I wasn't cut out to play it.

I needed to leave. And I needed to leave my ego behind. I say this now because it wasn't so then. But we work our own magic in our lives. We call them angels, inspiration, voices in our heads - our conscience. I decided to clean up and get out. So, I took my sick days and my insurance plan and went to see a shrink - because I had to according to the HR policy... actually see someone who would validate that I needed these sicks days. It was the best use of the system that I had grown to despise.

It happened the first time I walked in and sat down. This gentle, modest, slightly older lady basically sat there, asked a couple of questions and I was off. I couldn't shut the hell up. At first I was wary, and was only going to these sessions in order to get my time off - which I justified as compensation for mental cruelty, of course inflicted upon myself. But all of a sudden, it was like the first time that Holly and I just sat down and let it all out. Mindblowing stuff happens when you can sit down with someone you trust who wouldn't harm you for anything.

And here she was... my temporary Holly. My Dear Abby, except that I figured it out myself and she just sat there listening while I ranted and raved about this giant asshole of a man who had usurped my position and turned me into this blubbering GIRL! Well - HE cheated! He didn't play fair! He lied!

Whoo! That was when it hit me.

Who cares? Seriously, when you know you are being played, you need to find out if you really want to play that game - for whatever reason. And it just hit me like a cold fish upside my head. I didn't want to be like that, and if that's how I had to be to be successful in this industry, I didn't want it. Suddenly and without warning... I knew who I was even more than ever before.

I told her something similar to: I liken these epiphanies to trying on a character and deciding if you like playing that character in this scene because others respond so well... or not. But what's odd is that when you realize it is only a character, your own cognition of that fact makes it heretofore UNREAL. I mentioned that I analyzed my thoughts and how I process them all the time, trying to cost-benefit everything in my head - "whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"... or not.

She looked at me, and I'll never forget what she said, "It's very rare for people to analyze how they think, but it's a very good thing to do." At first, my ego was proud of my achievement bestowed upon me by this perfect stranger. And years later, I think about this and voila! I get it. I've always been conscious. I've just chosen to not acknowledge it.

It's much easier over this past decade to "let things go". Sure we worked hard for the things we thought mattered. There's not one damned thing wrong with that. It's what matters at the time. Except when you miss out on the more splendid, interpersonal things that totally blow away what others perceive you to be, or more to the point - how you want to control their perception of you.

Look at what we do. How often do we behave differently for different people, our separate audiences? How often do we keep our "worlds" apart because we can't be multiple characters in a mixed crowd? How often do we truly wear the real person on the outside for everyone to see?

How often to we think about how we think we control the world around us?


  1. Been there myself Nani. When I face horrible people and I find myself contemplating revenge, I reflect on something John told me 8 years ago...

    When you act like them, you are letting "them" change who you are...and once that happens, they have won.

    Good for you to have come out the true winner.

    Big Love
    Mrs Huckins

  2. Nani
    I really enjoyed reading this! Something about it sruck home with me. You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to more :)

  3. Nani
    Amen to that. Reflection is a powerful tool. It is how we grow our awareness and our inner beauty. I am always here to listen and I know you are there for me too! Anytime. Peace.