For years I have had the horrible habit of trying to fit in. I am an expert on how to sound like I belong to a group. I could step into a church and I know just what to say to appear that I belong. I still can. Dazzling people by explaining what they believe better than they do is really my only social skill. I just had to be careful to never hang around people who would call me out, which was not very difficult as few people are willing to do that. Because I was so desperate to belong I became very skilled at appearances, to the point that I fooled even myself.
Lying to myself came at a great cost though. Eventually I had to face reality and when I did I lost my faith and the basis for many of my relationships. I went from believing that I knew everything important to knowing how little I knew. It was a miserable experience, but it was probably the most important thing that has happened to me yet. I now firmly believe that learning starts with admitting ignorance. Ruthless skepticism, though, is not necessarily an attractive trait. I found that if I was to take this journey out of ignorance I would have to do it alone.
The problem with appearances is if they are the goal as long as the appearance is maintained there is no reason to make further effort. When I faced the truth and admitted that I knew almost nothing I was left without a need for the facade. I still held on to it in hopes that it was more than just an appearance but that hope died very quickly. I found I had no personal substance. I could talk the talk but the walk was another matter entirely. I had no real character. My need for acceptance was so deep I had completely failed to develop any character. I was a chameleon.
When I realized these things, I was relieved. Maintaining a lie is exhausting, and admitting my lies to myself allowed me to drop the facade for the first time. I accepted the responsibility for change and I stopped looking for approval. When your only goal is to fit in you have to pay very close attention to what people think of you. You cannot afford to be caught so you must change to fit everyone's mood. Who you are is determined by what people say and think of you. Once the facade was gone I ceased to care about what others thought and I began to focus on what I needed to do to grow.
In the past I used to say "I don't care" as a defense. It was a way to avoid the pain of implicit rejection, real or imagined. What I am experiencing now is completely different. I used to imagine doing great things and what others would think of me (omegas tend to be delusional). I would make plans with meticulous detail. I was always thinking of how to make myself look good.
Nothing ever came of these plans. Regardless of how carefully I thought it through I was paralyzed with fear about how it would look if I failed. I could not bear the thought of being laughed at. I would plan and never act.
Now I simply act. Plans can be made on the fly. Mistakes are inevitable but acceptable. Nothing needs to be perfect or even look good because I am learning to not care what other people think. If I am doing it right they never once cross my mind. My choices are my own, they have little to nothing to do with what other people think. This has made for real change. For example, I told myself for years that I should workout, that I should exercise, but I could not do it. I had no useful motivation because it was all external. I was paralyzed by what people would think. Now I am working out on a regular basis, and I do it alone. I have no gym partner because I do it for myself and a partner would get in the way. My motivation is internal. It must be internal for any success to occur. In fact I have found that nearly every success has happened when I gave no thought to what people were thinking of me. I acted and focused on the challenge at hand.
That is not to say that I do not fall into old habits. I recently announced here that I would be doing a number of approaches every week. Since then I have done only two. If I am learning game to impress people on the internet I am doing it for the wrong reason. I am currently examining my reasons for learning game. I have realized that if I do not do it for the right reason it will fail.
In the end I am alone in this. If I am to correct my ignorance I cannot afford to let other's discomfort at my skepticism deter my questioning. If I am to gain any sort of character I must act without regard for the movement of the crowd. In the end I must act, because no one else will do it for me.