One year ago, I was going through quite a bit of anxiety about if I would be able to move to the U.S. and participate in Praxis. The visa situation was quite unclear. It is weird thinking that a year has passed since then. I’ve gone, and now I’m back. I was talking with a good friend the other day, and he summed it up nicely. It’s strange to come back to the same place, but be a different person.
I feel that even more at the moment. I’ve returned to my hometown to attend a friends wedding. I haven’t spent a significant amount of time here in the last five years. Five years ago I had just graduated college, and I returned home for a month to work before leaving on a 6-month backpacking trip. At the time I had only ever lived in Penticton and Calgary. Spending time at home, I’ve tried to slip into my old headspace. I don’t remember what it was like. I’ve learned a lot since then, I’ve changed. I’ve grown distant from old friends. Which brings me to the wedding.
When you grow distant from your old life, you begin to feel weird about getting together with old friends. It’s not that you’ve tried to distance yourself from them, but that you’re trying to distance your new self from your old self.
A phrase that has motivated me a lot over the past two years is, “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s simple. Easy to understand, but very hard to apply. Deciding to separate yourself from an old social circle can feel so wrong. I’ve felt like a dick for doing it. And not communicating about it. Just disappearing.
This all comes down to learning to be okay with the fact that people don’t like me. To do anything of significance in life, you are going to encounter people who don’t like what you are doing. I’ve found this already in podcasting. And it is easier to accept on the internet. The hard part is learning how to deal in person, in actual relationships with people who don’t like you. I guess the only way to practice is to start doing more stuff that is going to piss people off.
This is all about learning to be resilient. I’ve always admired comedians who are so able to deal with haters. Or so quickly identify and call out passive aggressive bullshit in conversations. There is a reason that there is a correlation between highly successful people and Aspergers. There is an undercurrent of communication and socials cues happening in any conversation. Being able to avoid those cues is helpful when you try to do big things.
Being ignorant can be helpful, but the highest level of power comes when you can notice and choose not to respond. Being able to perceive the meta-communication that is happening allows you to see deep into people’s soul. You can learn more about someone that they know about themselves when you pay attention to everything that they are communication. Their posture, their tone, their word choice, their tempo.
Most people just unconsciously respond to the social cues of the people around them. They change who they are to fit into a group. I’ve gone through ups and downs in my ability to pay attention to everything that happens in a group interaction. In a conversation, especially with more that one person, there is too much going on to be able to think consciously about it all. You’ve got to rely on your feelings. You have to have the ability to notice and respond to feelings. Psilocybin, meditation, and yoga, have been the best things for me with improving this ability.
This divide is between intellectual and intuitive knowledge. Not everything you know is something you’ve learned. There is stuff you know intuitively. And there is a lot of stuff that you know on an intuitive level but are rejecting on an intellectual level. You know this is happening when you can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning. Or you are making excuses to avoid talking with a friend who you think that you like, but can never get excited about hanging out with. A lot of improvement can be made from unlearning instead of learning.