An Apology

by radimentary

Brunoy smiled; they walked on a little way, and Itale broke out afresh, “I admire your patience so much, Egen, – I get cross with them – How do you stay patient?”

“I have nothing but patience to fill the gap between my own ideals and my actual achievement.”

— Urusula Le Guin, Malafrena.

Here’s another idea of Jordan Peterson’s. Why am I afraid of social interaction? I am afraid someone will say to me, out loud, what everyone is constantly broadcasting to everyone else. Listen carefully – they are among the cruelest words ever spoken.

“You are not what you could be.”

Genuine insecurity can and must always be framed this way. It is not merely that others are unfairly judgmental, although this may be. It is not merely that life has been unreasonably cruel, although this may also be. I am not one percent of what I could be, by my own standards, even accounting for all the hardships I have faced.

Speaking these words I finally understand the violent disgust I am frequently overcome with when speaking to strangers and close friends alike. My disgust is two-fold. First, that you are not who you could be – that you have so much potential and have so little to show for it. Second that having achieved just as little, I have no right to judge. It is frustration enough to make a man want to take a torch to the whole world.

This past year I have become accustomed – let’s say resigned – to the boundaries of my own willpower, and that at least is something to boast about! For those boundaries are such that they would induce debilitating claustrophobia in a lesser man. I have learned that I cannot force myself to work creatively for any length of time greater than five minutes, and resigned myself to outputting what could be an hour’s worth of mathematical work over several weeks. I have resigned myself to writing a slipshod 500 words every two months on a blog on which I’d hoped to publish a serialized novel.

And so of course, I hate everyone – myself for not being sufficiently clever, moral, brave, and most of all disciplined. Others – in every dimension I perceive they lack even more than myself. Only a wonderful few, whose lives are filled to the brim with divine struggle, who live in a day what I live in a year, perhaps only these happy few do not waste the very space they inhabit.

This is an apology to all the people I get cross with – that is to say everyone. My greatest hope is that if I finally chisel my way out of the prison of my own akrasia in the next twenty or fifty years perhaps I will have learned some measure of Brunoy’s patience.