Friday, November 11, 2005

Keeping up with the whoevers

I'm not going to put forth any false pretences here... I'm competitive. I think I manage to maintain my urges at healthy levels, but it's still... you know... a "thing." I'm a fencer... if I wasn't competitive, I'd suck, yeah? And I'm a doctoral student, which has competition written all over it. And I married a borderline megalomaniac. By borderline, of course, I mean jumping back and forth over the line, stomping on it, kicking it around... that kind of borderline. Fine, then... I'm competitive. So why am I completely unphased these days by everything and everyone around me?

There are talented folks all over the place, and I'm seeing more and more of them every day. In the department, I'm constantly astounded by the ability the other students display in class, in conversation, in their work. I have my contributions, sure, but they're a little harder for people to grasp, given the qualitative spin I tend to put on everything. These guys, though... they're really something. There isn't a single one of them that doesn't belong here, wrapped up in this PhD program. And , wonder of wonders, everything's copacetic where I'm concerned. In fact, I want nothing more than for them all to excel and kick much ass at everything they do, even when it means they'll inevitably outshine me in the department, win grants and fellowships out from under me, and so on. Still, no biggie. Weird.

On the music front, the fact that I've been accosted with talented people from every direction goes without saying. Every time I go to one of these gigs, I sit in the audience, baffled by the ability I'm witnessing. These people consistently put my guitar playing to utter and complete red-faced shame. They're established, confident, and on the move... they're freakin' idillic postcards of how to be professional. Even when their songs aren't necessarily the best in the world, they pull it off with class, and they still play exquisitely. I get pissed at myself for not being as good, but, crazy as it seems to me, I'm not out to beat anyone. I just want to go out there and do my thing.

My theory on it, for now, is that New York has me so far out of my element and feeling so absolutely miniscule that I can't really get into a funk about these things. I get out there and do my best, and it never feels like it's anywhere close to enough, but I do it, and I do it pretty compulsively. Oddly enough, I think that's a good thing... you know... not getting all flustered about competing. I mean, it doesn't exactly change anything, really. Besides, I think I do okay. I got into the gigs, just like the other people who I gauk at so frequently. And I'm trucking along in the psych department, just like the brilliant ones, and I haven't been kicked out yet. Interesting. Maybe some would think this train of thought a little ridiculous, but I find it pretty intreaguing. Life's a lot easier without the stress of wondering who's better, or what I have to do to be better than the... um... competition. I mean, I wasn't cutthroat about it before or anything, but I thought about it a great deal. Maybe it comes from being in a collegiate music school for so long. The point is that I think I'm finally getting over it, and that's nice. Is it maturity? I don't think so... I hate maturity. It gives me the creeps. I think this is something better.

I think a great many people, at any stage of life, suffer from the competitiveness affliction, even to the point of ugly jealousy. And jealousy sucks. I wasn't ever particularly prone to jealousy, but I've seen it, and it's pretty annoying and sad. Sure, it's a natural part of being human, I guess, but it's still a pain to deal with, no matter where it's directed. I'm not advocating the erradication of negative human impulses... or maybe I am... but seriously, life's a lot nicer without it. If you're ever jealous of someone, it's not a pleasant feeling. Why go there? Okay. there's my two cents.

Completely off topic, I got a new office today... it's my own. My precious. The professor I'm a T.A. for has an office on campus that he never uses... that he's never even seen... and he offered it to me today. It's... (sniff)... it's beautiful. It's... dare I say it... very much the likely object of jealousy. Whatever. It's a killer office, and it's mine, mine, MINE! MUAH-HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Yes...

Maybe that's a good way to keep the competition bug at bay... keep ending up with really cool things happening to you... they tend to keep you distracted.


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