Self-Defiance

As I sort of alluded to in my last few posts, I've been fueled, through most of later adolescence and young adulthood, by spite, or, to use a less negative word, defiance.

Things people have said to and about me, I never forget, like an elephant. This is good in some ways - I remember when people were kind to me when I was really struggling in 2004 - and bad in some others - I remember every insult that put me into those bad places - and I can't pretend this isn't a significant facet of my psyche.

But I know it has led me to good as well as bad. I've never been an insubordinate employee or anything self-destructive like that, but I know that I have terrible handwriting almost entirely because I refused to believe I couldn't write letters the way I wanted to in kindergarten. It's also why I can't type. The teacher, Mike Roam, told me in order to type quickly I needed to learn to type correctly. I said, but I can type faster than anyone else here! And then proceeded to do it.

I've always been this way, basically.

But on the other hand, being told, repeatedly, that I ran "weird" and ran poorly festered for decades and, though it wasn't the reason I started, it put a whole lot more fuel to the fire for all my running.

I also had a close friend tell me she could never see me as a teacher. Again, I was already set to go to Korea, but it was extra fuel.

And then there's the overarching defiance, the "you can't succeed in NYC if you're not in finance or law and you're crazy for trying to do so" that's been hounding me for a decade. 

So I think I finally understand myself. If someone whose opinion I respect doubts me and expresses that explicitly, I will defy it. But I'm no longer young enough that people tell me often I can't do things, because I've done a lot now.

Which leads me to running, and to other things I have control over. I have to frame (behavioral econ!) things in a way that forces me to defy myself.

Because I'm 30, nearly 31. I've finished 7 marathons, gotten married to a fantastic woman, lost the weight I used to have, been fortunate to travel to 30 countries, and overall have a nice place. No teachers or parents or anyone is telling me I can't succeed.

So if I want to take even more steps ahead - new PRs, more extracurricular career success - I have to bet myself I can't do it.

I won't list all the things here I want to avoid. But here and now, I bet myself that I can't do a few important things, and if I fail, I'll be donating money to causes I don't believe in.

And you're damn right they won't see a red cent.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality