The Need To Be Right & The Pants Principle

“A Man Who Knows Something Knows He Knows Nothing At All”

I was wrong.

Apart from “i Love You”, that’s probably the only phrase you’ll probably never hear me say. Ever. And if you do, I probably wouldn’t mean it. I remember calling an ex-friend about being wrong after I felt pretty bad getting into an argument with them. I cried.  And all I could hear at the end of the line was them laughing. Laughing at the fact that they felt they’ve won some glorious battle. As much as I have trust issues – that pretty much made me cut more people than paper with a child in an arts and crafts class. I faked my apologies after and they kept laughing. I felt like a wreck and went into some severe depression and had even bigger trust issues with people. I didn’t want to talk to friends – I gave up writing and anywhere I could get a drink – I did. People were horrible and that was the end of that. I hated the world.

I got the crap end of the stick by everyone. Internet hate mail, vicarious and vicious attacks from people I didn’t know. I gave up social media and fled because I was convinced I was cursed. Some people doubted my credibility and I was sick of it. The apology became a farce. I reverted back to argumentative mode and thought the prospects of being right were much more beneficial and developed a callous to arguments (and to people). I didn’t care – I had to win. Everyone was evil. I was a warrior, a soldier and a pinnacle of morality. I was fighting for myself and everyone had a hidden agenda. I could never look people at the same way. And if anyone crossed me once, I would cut them out of my life forever. Admittedly, the only person that did cross me isn’t my friend – but that was probably the right thing to do. As I admitted defeat, they thought prolong the conflict and raise a victory parade like they were granted martyrdom and immediately deserved sainthood. I never want to look back. You can’t be friends with those kinds of people. Unless you think being hit by a truck is fun.

Today, I had an argument with a friend – this time via text message but the story turned out differently . I was offensive and undermined her intelligence. Despite not being conscious of my words – they were taken as insults. Being a social scientist, perception is one of the most fundamental things we have to think of when reading case studies and formulating an idea. I don’t set how to hurt people, especially people I care about – but what one small comment did unleashed a heck of hurt and a tirade of justifications. As the argument went further – I could see she was pretty hurt with what I said. I called her course ‘childish’ because of how easy she said it was. However silly me, I didn’t explain to her what I meant. I meant to say – it was because she was going on about how her philosophy class were pedantic about copying notes such as ‘snow is white’. Of course it is. You don’t need to copy those kinds of notes. Both of us made fun of it. But I was the jerk. I went onto say ‘how is it challenging?’ when she told me that they had the answers on the internet.

By design, her course does seem pretty easy. I felt it was fun to join in with her after she kept telling me how optimistic she was cause it was so easy. I encouraged her in many ways telling her ‘I believed in her’ and ‘I know she’ll ace it’ because I know she can. But after having a rough day of anthropology and looking at the stacks of readings and assessments I had – I felt a heavy, undesirable burden coupled with extreme fatigue and anxiety over my future. She told me again how easy it was – and with one word – it broke the system, the dynamic. ‘Childish’. Admittedly, I was the child. Now that I think about it, I probably subconsciously envied the fact that my workload was more heavier and theoretically dense. But that’s an argument for later.

Most people I know are horrible people. My mother always told me, ‘Be careful who you show your weakness to. Because people aren’t afraid to exploit it against you.’ That philosophy applies. I became paranoid with the fact that I had to always be strong. Always had to be right. For when I’d wrong – the tower I built for myself would fall. All my hard-work would be for nothing. And my life would be meaningless. I learned to instinctively know who to trust and what to say and how to dissect people’s true intentions. As the argument went on – I was ready to finish it, trying to be optimistic as possible knowing full well that I hurt her feelings. But it kept going and going. I was sick of it, and I thought ‘alright, I get it. You were right, now let it go already‘. But I kept getting lengthy texts that basically read to me as ‘Ha-ha! You’re wrong. I’m right. You’re a loser‘. Immediately, I couldn’t take it. I had to fight back. I was thinking ‘Wait a minute. Now you’re insulting MY intelligence? How DARE you! You made your point – I was admitting that you were right. But you had to twist the KNIFE FURTHER?’ At the risk of getting more feelings hurt, I kept to myself most of the things that came fuming into my conscious like a bomb reading to detonate and just destroy everything. Fine, I don’t get the course you do – but why not be a humble winner? It was that moment all over again. I was ready to attack, I was ready for the kill. I had things hurtful. I wanted to yell so loud that the tram carriage I was on would just stop and people would run out thinking I went insane. I could not be wrong. If things didn’t go my way – I was ready to hurt. I was ready to fight and never let this thing I’ve built crumble. 

Then I got a sign of respite. A sign of connected, mutual trust and agreement. I would’ve done the same [if it was for a course you did and I thought was stupid].

I was insipid with rage. First you crumble my tower – and now you think you can relate? You can relate to all the times people have betrayed me in the past? people who have went out of their way to destroy my life? All the death threats I’ve received? All the ‘you’re burning in hell’ comments? All the times where my trust was destroyed for some inconsequential remark I’ve said? You think you can relate to my history? Don’t you dare tell me I’m on the same level when my WHOLE life, I’ve built to make sure I was better than everyone else. My whole life – I couldn’t trust any single person cause everyone I’ve met had the hidden agenda to destroy me and make me feel hopeless.

All I was known for in my entire childhood was being the ‘smart kid’. Being the one ‘with the most promise’. Everyone encouraged me, despite my troubles with illiteracy and mathematics. I was so scared when that went away from me. I hated that title. All the kids at school would just beg for the answers – and even when I didn’t know them – I’d be the one who made up an answer that sounded true. It was pleasant for awhile – knowing that people looked up to me. Then people made fun of it. I was too eager to please everyone – so I decided to ‘dumb’ myself down to make sure people would be my friends. I used to speak in such eloquence – my words were like jig-saw puzzle phrases that were provocative but eerily poetic. Now I speak in such normal terms, pretend to be an idiot to the point where I became one. I am one. I prostituted my own image just to feel some sort of connection to our world. And I still was rejected and was made fun of in the notions. I became so confused, I’ve had sleepless nights wondering why no one liked me. I abandoned intelligence to look for intimacy and found nothing. I crumbled my own tower for others and I got buried in the rubble that people insistently overlook. I desperately wanted someone just to care about me. I wasn’t even the smart one anymore. I was just the one no one cared about. I still do feel like that.

I worked on an image – the caring one. The one everyone calls Mom. The fussy, sassy but overall caring and friend that listens to everyone’s problems and talks people through solutions. But that grew exhausting. I cared about everyone – but I didn’t feel that reciprocation, that return. The warm feeling when you’re snuggling up with some hot chocolate watching your favourite movie with someone you love. The exhilarating waltz of passion when you’ve danced the night away with your partner. The satisfying feeling when someone comes up to you and tells you ‘you’ve really helped me. you’ve touched my heart in ways I never thought anyone could’. I remember being in a debate where I scored the lowest and was brutally massacred about my speech but a person from the crowd told me that he saw that I spoke from the heart and connected with him in my speech. I remember I felt like I was someone in this world. And at that moment, I wanted to cry. I wanted him to know how much that helped me. The fact that all this time every wire I had was connected to no single entity and that for once – all of my effort into connecting with people had finally got to someone. It was an amazing feeling. It was my version of being part of the universe. Coupled with my social anxiety – it was a milestone of huge proportions of my life.

I always get called stupid. So the feeling of being wrong hurt a thousand times more than you can imagine. No longer was I the smart or caring one. I was the stupid and neglected one. I went home with a friend of mine and a person who had just started university that we both knew. They talked and talked and were having the time of their lives on the bus and started to wonder why conversations with myself didn’t work like that. There was always a brief pause, a moment of awkwardness and an unsettling but seeping silence that seemed to destroy every dynamic that was built up. As I watched them excitedly talk about their day (which, honestly – I’m not very fond of such mundane matters) I started to wonder if I was the fault of all the tragedies that have happened to me. If I had total agency of the things that have happened to me. It wasn’t up to fate – it was up to me.

And that’s why I was wrong. It wasn’t fair that for so much of the past that I suffered and endured through silently… I have been slowly taking it out on people of my present. I’m only a hollow shell of my former self. And now I’m stuck in liminality of being too afraid to connect and wanting to connect. Being pulled apart from sadness and anger. She doesn’t even know about all the things I went through. The hardships. Nor does she have to. Nor does she deserve any of the crap I wanted to unload onto something. And she taught me this lesson. A lesson on logic. Funnily enough we argued about logic. And I was the child in this scenario. It’s incredibly hard to teach an old soul like me to wise up. But she did and I’m supremely happy I’ve learned a big life lesson… You shouldn’t be ashamed not knowing an answer. All that should do, is make the search even more exciting and when you find it – all the more rewarding. There’s no shame not knowing anything. Because you really only know something once you realize that you really don’t know anything. And sometimes the crumbling of the tower you’ve built up for yourself is something that’s inevitable – and probably what’s going to bring you closer to finding somewhere you can call home.

At the end of the day – it’s like this. Imagine you just came back from home and you’re ready to change into comfortable clothes ready to rest up but suddenly you can’t find your comfortable pants. You get extremely frustrated and start thinking the world is against you… but then for one split moment – you realise you’ve been wearing those pants all along. Or you were holding onto them. Or they were where you last left them and you remembered where that spot was. Sometimes things that are just so obvious they fall out of your senses… But once you find your way – you can settle down and realise things aren’t as bad as you or anyone can possibly make them.

And I know that in my life and in my heart – I’ll finally connect with someone who’s good and right for me. It doesn’t matter how many bridges I break… or how many times I fall… When I rebuild… and get out of the rubble – I’ll be making my way closer to what’s meant to be. And I really hope I do get there… No… I know I’ll get there.

Right now, I need to take one step at a time… and actually find some pants… Wait no, lucky for all you readers – I already have them on.

C.
PS: This post is dedicated to my friend Ruth. You kick ass.

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