Generally speaking, most people do not deal with the first definition seen here regarding paranoia. The second definition, however, seems to apply to me. The good news, is it helps me gather a high emotional intelligence rating!
This post is less about paranoia than it is about fear. I have a few things coming up in the next week that scare me to no end. Monday night, I will be the toastmaster host for my local toastmasters meeting and will be theming it up with gratitude. Saturday will have me competing with 5 other toastmaster champions from around the state of Oklahoma to see who is graded as having the best humorous speech. The next morning I will preach my first sermon since June 2012 at my local church. Finally (at least for the purposes of this post), I will be going on my first cruise which is to take place the day after Thanksgiving.
Now, I could take each of these subjects and break them apart, explain the components in technical terms and then move forward. That might be a little helpful. But (yes, I started a sentence with a conjunction), that feels kind of boring to me. All of those above fears are easy for me to handle. I have been speaking publicly for over 20 years and I am only 36 and have performed in front of audiences for over 30. I am always scared right before I get in front of an audience, but then something clicks inside of me and I am able to perform/speak/entertain despite any fear. The cruising fear has more to do with trying something new than anything else. Though it scares me, I will be okay.
What still shakes me to this day–and I don’t know if these fears will ever be resolved or if they should be resolved–is whether my daughter will have a better life than me while I am still trying to decide if my life is good or now. Generally when I share these kinds of fears, people respond with “Oh, you are a good father,” or “You seem like a pretty good person to me.” I appreciate the sentiment and observation, but this nags much deeper than a surface level question. A few years ago I thought I was alone in experiencing these questions, but now I am starting to realize that most of us agonize over these questions in our own way in our own time. I find solace that Soren Kierkegaard dealt with these same questions in chapter one of his “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing” about 160 years ago.
I constantly tell my daughter a few phrases. One is a quote I heard at a young lady’s bat mitzvah, “Doing the right thing is not always easy, but it is always right.” Another is something I apparently I riffed from Michael Jackson, “Make the world a better place.”
My favorite phrase, and I only now realize I don’t tell her as much as I used to, is, “Be awesome today.”
I don’t mind sharing my personal odyssey with the world. I am always a little more careful when it involves my family, especially my daughter. I don’t want her life to be limited about what I post about her via the internet, because some day she might want to work for an ice cream store and:
My daughter is learning to live in this world and it scares me because I grew up in this world. Sure she is wonderful in every way, but life has a way of beating us up. I want her to live a good life – a happy life… a life that makes the world a better place because she does the right thing. She tries and she struggles, not because she is doing something wrong. No, she struggles because the world doesn’t always want to be a better place. And when the world enjoys itself as it is, a little girl gets the raw end of the deal for caring. That is what I find so unbearable. I don’t want her to learn how to play the politics of life, even though that is part of life. If you cannot work with other people in any way, shape, or form, your life will be miserable. There is a life of learning that must go into effect to learn how to work with other people. That is one of my jobs as her daddy.
But I’m scared. It doesn’t help when I see what appears to be good parents with rotten kids. It doesn’t matter to me that the variables are completely different. Sure, the kid makes choices that lead it down the road to be rotten or not, but how much culpability is on the parents for teaching about the consequences of choice? I learned how to make choices, act and react based on the way my parents taught me be it intentional teaching or unintentional. Some of those teachings have served me well and allowed me to move past where I probably should be in life while some of the other teachings have probably hindered me.
In eighth grade, I found that I could pass my math tests without applying myself to showing work. That particular teacher did not care as long as my results were correct. The fact that I was among the first ones done probably strengthened the teacher’s mind that I was not copying or cheating. This made me feel awesome. Less work on my part! Woo hoo! Unfortunately, I struggled with math in ninth grade. I do believe teaching was a factor, as very few students did better than earning a “C” grade. However, I put myself in a bind because I had already developed a habit of not showing work, which made it more difficult to know why I was getting incorrect answers. I was constantly going to school an hour early to get tutored in my incorrect math procedure. My tenth grade teacher was driven crazy by the fact that I never showed work, because my answers were correct again. All of the homework I turned in and tests I took were counted off because I never showed my work. I still passed math in those two years, but it was the first time I hated math. Eleventh grade found me a teacher that allowed me to not show work again and all was well in the world as I didn’t have to take another high school math class. In college, my professor only cared that I got the answers right. I did all of the work within the first few minutes of class and then left each day. I usually forgot which days were test days, but I was fortunate that the prof would let me make up the tests at the end of class.
At the time, I never understood the importance of showing work. As I progressed through college, I started to understand. Showing work is not necessarily for the benefit of the one doing the work. Showing work helps others understand how you came to your conclusions. Being right alone is not enough. Showing how you are right (or wrong) helps others, which in turn can help make the world a better place, which makes you awesome! I showed my work so I am good.