Who am I? How did I get here? Where do I go next?

Who am I?

As my angiogram, with its attendant risks, is only three days away at the time I’m writing this, I’m worrying about the risk of death and of going to hell, or even just the risk of death, and I’ve been reading about the growing body of non-scientific evidence for survival of the self separately from the body, it’s reminded me of the idea of the review of life.

So, trying to be a good blogger, I thought I’d put some kind of description of me and my life onto my blog. Even if nothing goes wrong with the angiogram, human life isn’t that long a time to be regretting a minor embarrassment… and although it’s not difficult to find who I am (in terms of a name) I’m not putting my name directly onto my blog (so if I write something freaky, it won’t be found by staid corporate HR people googling me when I apply for a job somewhere). Most people will stumble across this blog from searches, I guess; the few who know who I am by name will have already realized that I’m somewhat strange 😉

There’s one thing that even in these liberal times (perhaps especially in these liberal times) that it seems still taboo to say, but I’m going to have to come out about it (at least largely anonymously): I am intelligent; by many people’s standard, very intelligent. I can’t omit it from a description of myself, because it is quite central to the way I am, and a lot of the rest of my characteristics grew from it. I think a lot. I like thinking. I get really annoyed when something interferes with thinking. Many of the things I’m interested in involve thinking, and I don’t find non-thinking activities very interesting at all. This means that my life is (or at least feels) quite disconnected from that of many people. This is quite a big feature of my life. It’s also annoying that a good characteristic is treated as something almost embarrassing. If this doesn’t make sense to you, because you see intelligence as being respected, try the analogy of tall men generally being respected, desired, etc. 6′ 2″ (188cm) is generally regarded as a pretty good height, I guess. I had a professionally-administered IQ test when I was a kid, as I was doing badly at school (actually the problem was boredom). It didn’t come up with an actual result, but projecting linearly from how far I got through it before I saturated the marking scheme, compared with the average (100) and then translated into height compared with the average, gives me a “brain height” of around 10′ (304cm) and that’s not what counts as a `natural leader’ or the `tall handsome man’ sought in personal ads; it’s some kind of freak height, and it makes it difficult to fit through the doorways in much of modern culture. It’s probably quite a major contribution to me not having a television, for example.

Although, as far as I know, I was never formally diagnosed with it (or if I was, they didn’t actually tell me, because I was only a kid), I probably had at least moderate Asperger’s as I grew up. I wish I had known at the time; although now I place myself as `outlier’ rather than `outcast’, it’s in the more sensitive younger years when it’s really helpful to understand why you don’t get on with so many of your contemporaries. And the really useful thing to have done with that knowledge would have been to take acting classes, so I could fit in with neurotypicals when it suited me; but perhaps if I had understood Aspie / NT social dynamics I wouldn’t have needed to. Still, it might have been handy.

In fact, I’ve moved on to be able to read many people very well (with my experience as an outside observer of the human race ;-)), although occasionally I make major blunders.

It could, in fact, be very reasonably said that I’m eccentric; I’m certainly not very well-standardized.

In terms of a classic personality description system, I’m very strongly INTJ: Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging. Introverted: I don’t like crowds of people, and feel very drained by them. I like being by myself, or with a few like-minded people. iNtuitive: I’m interested in the grand schemes of things, rather than the details. I spot patterns and correlations. Thinking: I value rationality more than feeling and impulse. Judging: I don’t really understand this one, but I certainly put values on my observations.

Another descriptive system that more recently caught my attention is Dabrowski’s `Positive Disintegration‘, which describes my life path very well. It’s not for me to say which stage I’m mostly at, although I think my presence in each of several levels is fuzzy (in the sense of fuzzy logic).

Finding Positive Disintegration led me on to read about the `Highly Sensitive Person‘ type, which describes me quite well: I experience things quite intensely, enough to have deep effects on me. A wise monk once pointed out to me that I’d have problems that way: I’m physically quite brawny, and he said that would lead people to treat me as thick-skinned.

I also get anxious quite easily, and I think that’s connected with intelligence and geekiness: I’m aware of more of the risks of each action than many people are.

I’m a classic geek of Computer Science, but I’m old enough to have grown out of the worst of the social awkwardness that often goes with it. When I was younger, I made lots of classically clumsy geeky attempts at finding a girlfriend, and got rebuffed pretty horribly, around student age and for much of my twenties. So horribly, in fact, that when, a while later, a female friend I was spending quite a lot of time with started to talk about going to see the vicar about getting married, it still didn’t register (for another ten years or so, in fact) that I was no longer a geek who no-one wanted to date.

Anyway, nothing came of that relationship, and since then I’ve had a few relationships, one of them very good, and in fact my most recent status apart from being single again was `being stalked by an ex who looks rather like Inara from Firefly’ which is a long way to have come from being a geek who no-one wanted to date. Not that physical appearance is the major factor for me; that’s just an observation on having moved on from being the most awkward guy around. Anyway, I’ve got over that one, and can enjoy watching Firefly again without wanting to check that the front door and downstairs windows are locked and all the phones are off so `she’ can’t get in or pester me!

I was once a major depressive, partly because of generally not fitting in with most people, and largely because of being single. I overcame that using Cognitive Therapy, which I’d recommend to any thinking-type people who’re depressed. It’s actually a very geeky kind of therapy; in Unix/Linux terms, it’s like having a writable directory at the front of your command search path, into which you can put replacements for any program names (stimuli) that are producing the wrong results.

The main deficits I’m currently aware of include inability (or major unwillingness) to cope with clingy or vegetative people, and such a lack of self-control that I can’t instantly eliminate bad habits and replace them by better ones. Am I being too hard on myself with that last one? Well, I shouldn’t expect instant perfection, but I’ve not reached the self-control equivalent of being stalked by an Inara-lookalike. But a verse of the Bible that stands out to me as something to aim for is “He who has control over his own spirit is mightier than he who conquers a city” [Proverbs 16:32

I love the `great outdoors’ and the countryside, and this may connect with my need for personal space. Cities are alien to me; I can dip into them for specific purposes, but I don’t feel at home in them.

Looking back, one of my main regrets will make me sound a real sad geek: I wish I had paid more attention to maths in school. It may seem an odd thing to regret, but I could have made so much more use of my intellect if I had. Unfortunately, school maths was numeric stuff, that I find very dull; had they taught discrete maths, maybe I wouldn’t have switched off. And I really wish the school system had pushed bright kids to make progress beyond the set progression of topics. (In fact, I don’t think the idea of progression by chronological age makes much sense; I’ve written a separate post about that.)

I also regret that I passed up on a chance to learn to play the organ in my early teens; it would probably be much harder now I’m older.

In some senses, I regret the path that lead to me still being single in my forties; but to have found earlier success in dating I would probably have had to suppress, or would have lost, much of my individual character development, and that jars against my love of truth. These days there seems to be more scope to be unusual and yet part of wider society. The 1980s, when my contemporaries were mostly pairing up, were pretty poor that way. (Actually, they were really lousy; it was the era of the rising yuppy, when callousness was the latest aspirational virtue; not a good era to grow up as a geek in.) In principle, I’d still like to marry (or form a marriage-like relationship; I’m not interested in tying someone to me with vows if the love has faded) but it would take a fairly unusual woman to be that good a match with me, so I don’t hold my breath waiting, but get on with being a good single. I think I’d probably make a good father; who knows, it might yet happen!

Of course, I also regret the path and habits that have led to me be indicated for an angiogram before I’m even 50! I do tend to overeat, mostly through boredom; when I’m doing something really interesting, it can be hours before I notice I’ve missed a mealtime.

I know I could have made so much more of my abilities already; so many things are so interesting, that perhaps I spread my attention too widely. On the other hand, without that, I wouldn’t have any cross-fertilization of ideas from one area to another.

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