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Confession #1

November 4, 2009

This entry is the first in what I hope to be a regular series that delves deeper into myself. I’m going to be publicly introspective to see if that helps me improve the man I am and the man I hope to be.

I really don’t like going out of my way for people.

Friends, family, strangers. Doesn’t matter. I see my life as a series of lines between point A (where I am) and point B (where I’m going). If you’re physically located somewhere between those two places, I’ll stop by. Otherwise, no way.

I’ll give you an example. A friend was recently hospitalized. I prayed for him to get better quickly so I wouldn’t have to take the time out of my normal routine to go visit him.

I’ll give you another example. A few months ago, I had a late meeting at work. After the meeting, an older community member who I really like invited me to join her and her husband for dinner at a nearby restaurant. I declined because the invitation got in the way of how I had expected my evening to unfold. It’s not that things have to align perfectly for me, it’s just that I leave no room for the unexpected when I set my mind on what point B is.

I’ll give you yet another example. A year ago, I decided that it might be a good idea to meet my biological mother before I no longer had that opportunity (should she pass away). At the time, I driving fairly regularly between St. Louis and Charleston, WV, a route that took me within an hour of bio mom’s home. However, that’s still an extra hour, so it didn’t happen. Now that my long-distance relationship is over, it hasn’t even crossed my mind to make that drive out to meet bio mom. It doesn’t even seem like an option because it’s not on the way to something else.

The flip side of all this is that I understand what my love language is. I like people to go out of their way for me or do something for me so I don’t have to go out of my way. Don’t buy me a gift; instead, run an errand for me. That works for me.

Where does this leave me? Probably completely incapable of having a successful romantic relationship until I figure out a way to make sense of it. Sure, I have things to do at points A and B. They’re either work, errands, different types of work (writing, TypeTribe, more writing), or specific events with friends. But I still need to learn to make room for the unexpected, for time (often in the car) where I’m not doing anything, for people who I compartmentalize into my life where it’s convenient.

I’ll get there. But for now, I’m at A, on my way to B, and nothing will interrupt that straight line.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2009 8:04 pm

    It’s nice to meet you, Jamey. 🙂

  2. November 4, 2009 8:48 pm

    I appreciate your honesty. That’s what good writing is about. In some ways I, too, tend to focus on point A to point B, and won’t even stop for myself if my needs get in the way… much less somebody else. But in my case, if someone comes up with something they need or want, I still squeeze it in, after endless hours of point-A-to-point-B living. Talk about a recipe for exhaustion! I’ve learned to mitigate that by purposely scheduling one thing on my to-do list each day that’s less urgent than the others. Then if someone has a sudden need, or I receive a last-minute invite, I have one thing I can easily shift. Life feels a lot more joyous and relaxed, and the important stuff still gets done.

    As for not finding a meaningful relationship until you change, I think it works both ways… Self-improvement will take you in the right direction, but finding love is also about discovering that person who naturally brings out that better side of you. I was growing as a person before I met my husband, but I become a much better person after he showed up. And the thing that kick-started the change: he first accepted me as I was, selfish warts and all.

    • November 5, 2009 12:11 am

      Thanks for your comment. It’s good to hear that you relate to what I’m saying about A to B. I like how you ended your comment, that the kickstart to a successful, life-improving relationship was someone fully accepting you as you were. I just think I need to be ready to do the same for someone else.

  3. Bob permalink
    November 4, 2009 9:57 pm

    Here’s one way to look at it, Jamey: In each case, think “What’s it worth to me?”

    (arghh…I just realized that I’m about to do a cost-benefit analysis, but the economist side of me can’t help it)

    Benefit: I can meet my biological mother
    Cost: 2 hrs of driving time

    Benefit: I get to share a good meal and good conversation with this couple
    Cost: X, Y, and Z that you had planned for that night may not happen. Maybe you’ll have to pick just one of the three.

    Now, given that you’re writing this blog entry in the first place means that your default decision is “pick whatever I had planned before.” It might be wise, then, for you to take the time (easier in the driving instance and harder when asked to make a spur of the moment decision on dinner, but I think even in the latter case you could respectfully say “Can you give me a moment to think if that conflicts with my other plans for this evening?”) to step back and take a moment to consider the new offer. Pretend that each of the possibilities (direct trip or bio mom visit; dinner or usual plans) was presented simultaneously and you get to pick between them without bias.

    I hope that any of the above is helpful for you. (But if not, remember that my home is only one block out of the way from your home to work route!)

    Bob

    PS – Just saw the “Avatar” preview for the first time as I was typing this, and it looks damn awesome.

    • November 5, 2009 12:12 am

      I am a fairly analytical person, so I appreciate this approach, as well as the connection to Avatar. 🙂

  4. Dionne permalink
    November 4, 2009 10:47 pm

    Thank you Jamey for sharing a deeper part of you- for being vulnerable with your reader. What you described I have actually heard before from other friends.

    You have a need for structure because it gives you a sense of control. You don’t deviate from your “routine” or leave room to deviate because you need the structure/control (I have a theory as to why, but you can DM me on twitter and I can tell you) and this is not right or wrong, nor good or bad. It really depends on you and what you want your goals to be or what you would like to strive for.

    You are the way you are because it protects you, it works for you, and you haven’t been forced to change it (most change occurs in one’s life because we are forced, somehow, to change).

    So my question to you is, is this something you would like to change/modify about yourself or did you pick this particular confession because you could predict the responses you might get and already know how you might answer them?

    • November 5, 2009 12:23 am

      Indeed, I’ve heard the control theory. And I hear it. But the thing that doesn’t work well with that theory is that it’s not that I care about everything not going as planned…it’s more so that I get excited about B and choose B because I think it’s what I really want to do. So when something else gets in the way of what I really want to do, that’s a problem. But I’m not sure if that’s a control issue.

      Perhaps the problem is that it’s an issue when the only A in my life is work and the only B in my life is home. There needs to be other Bs, and maybe other As.

      I think part of it is that I’m a bit of an introvert in that I have a lot of projects that I like to work on by myself in my own space. That’s often what B is. The other part of it is that although I get really excited about those projects, my time management isn’t always the best, so I get really excited about B and only end up doing half of B, so when C (time with friends) randomly pops up the next time, I’m still kicking myself for not completing B when I had the time to do so.

      This was not a safe post for me to make–it was not one where I know all the questions and answers in advance. I’m just writing about this stuff because it might enhance this blog a little bit by adding vulnerability to the posts and perhaps help me grow at the same time.

  5. T-Mac permalink
    November 5, 2009 8:57 am

    This is a very interesting post for me to read, particularly because I often feel like I have exactly the opposite problem. I have a point A and B, but I’m so inclined to do option C when presented with that option that point B may never be reached. As long as point B isn’t something that won’t negatively impact others if it’s not done, I have an “I’ll do it later” approach. There’s always time for C! My problem is amplified with C is something that’s important to a significant other…then my Bs almost always get thrown out the window.

    Relative to your situation, can you remember a time when you were more spontaneous and allowed for greater flexibility in your life? If so, what was different about your life then? I automatically think of college. So many people were so carefree and willling to throw caution to the wind at that point in our lives. What happened to us? (Admittedly, my “option Cs” now are quite different and more tame than they were in college.)

    • November 5, 2009 4:42 pm

      The C issue, huh? That’s definitely the exact opposite. I’ve always admired your flexibility, though. You’re willing to make time for C…although I guess I see from what you’re saying that sometimes that leaves you without time for B.

      Was there a time in my life when I was spontaneous? I want to say my year abroad in Japan, but even then I was always thinking about what I wanted B to be, and then I’d make it happen. I think it helps to have a group of friends, all of whom want to hang out with one another, and it doesn’t really matter what you do because you just want to be with each other. Studying in Japan, where that group was in the same building every day and lived pretty close to one another, made that even easier.

      I think I’ll really enjoy life in a retirement home. Anyone want to retire early?

  6. Dionne permalink
    November 5, 2009 9:46 am

    Thanks Jamey for your follow-up response. What you said makes a lot of sense. It’s awesome that you great insight into yourself. So few people have that.

    My option A and option B have to do with introverted activities too. I shy away from certain social interactions where I have to be around too many people. I have the full intention of going to do option C and then I see a crowd and I decide in the parking lot…maybe this isn’t a good idea and I turn right around…lol. Too many strange faces at one time makes me nervous sometimes although, i don’t seem to have that problem when going to a concert…lol.

    Thanks again for sharing Jamey! It was a great post! Keep up the good work of introspection!

    • November 5, 2009 4:36 pm

      I completely related to your aversion to crowds…especially crowds where I don’t know anyone (or feel that I don’t know anyone). Conversely, I LOVE hanging out with groups of friends, and I love big family reunions.

      Thanks for sharing as well 🙂

      • Dionne permalink
        November 5, 2009 5:20 pm

        I love hanging with large groups of friends and family reunions (my family reunions get pretty crazy and wild because that just how us Latinos are..lol). It all comes back to the “comfortability” and “familiarity” component.

  7. Dionne permalink
    November 5, 2009 5:22 pm

    Oh and I would luv to retire early, but to live in a retirement home when kill me. I would want to live independently close to friends and family.

  8. January 4, 2010 10:47 am

    WOW! I am the polar opposite.

    I almost always go out of my way for other people! I can intend to spend my evening quietly reading a book and instead find myself babysitting a friend’s kid while I crochet a scarf for a “Warm Up” mission for church and listen to a new album a friend dropped off so I can give her a timely opinion. I live with such a spontaneous attitude that I am almost always busy with my child and friends, even if I started the week with hardly any plans at all. I will always sacrifice sleep and boring plans (like, say, my resolve to clean the refrigerator) to help a friend out.

    It’s so interesting to hear such a different perspective!! It shouldn’t be shocking for me to let you know that I also LOVE surprises! Thanks for enlightening me to the contrasting opinions of others!

    • January 4, 2010 1:36 pm

      Very interesting–we are indeed opposites in these respects. My question for you is, if you were looking forward to an evening of reading and you end up nursing baby seals back to health while basketweaving, do you feel a sense of loss or disappointment that you didn’t get to the book? What if you were really excited about the book?

      Well, it’s no surprise, but I’m happy to report that I’ve subscribed to your blog feed. 🙂

      • January 4, 2010 1:55 pm

        I don’t feel a sense of loss at all because, in my way of thinking, that book will still be sitting next to my bed the following night. And the night after that. Whereas, the baby seals probably needed saving right then! Haha. Same goes for the dinner you were invited to but didn’t attend. I would never want to miss out on that dinner, that possibility of connection with human beings I already know I enjoy. I’d much rather skip my original plans to go home, heat up last night’s enchiladas and do some laundry and…live!

        Hopefully you don’t take offense to that, but I find that the moments were I’m truly fulfilled and feel alive are when I open myself up to possibility. Now, if I had no interest in going to the dinner, I wouldn’t have a problem declining. But, generally speaking, people will always trump plans like cleaning/studying/reading/relaxing/sleeping. I’m the kind of girl who will drag my pajama-clad self out of bed because a girlfriend called, upset over something and needed an ear.

        Glad you subscribed! I can’t wait to read more of your posts. 🙂

        • January 4, 2010 3:57 pm

          That’s a good point about the book. I think sometimes I get my mind too set on things like that.

          “The moments where I’m truly fulfilled and feel alive are when I open myself up to possibility.” I really, really like that. That rings true with me. I need to leave more room in my life for possibility. I think that’s why I felt so alive when I was studying abroad–everything was a possibility, and nothing was more than a 15-minute bike ride away.

          That being said, the baby seals need to learn to help themselves. (Sidenote: I sometimes hold my cat like a baby and put food on his stomach so he can eat like a seal. He’ll do it, too.)

          • January 4, 2010 4:17 pm

            I know you’re right, the baby seals need to learn to help themselves. It’s a lesson I continuously struggle to learn. 🙂

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  1. Confession #2 « Jamey Stegmaier's Blog

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