silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
[personal profile] silveradept
The eighth April Moon prompt is another feather, this time in focus, with a brick pathway in the background. The feather itself appears to be one from a male peacock or a related species, with the blue and green eye that is part of the fantastic plumage males use to attract mates.

This time around, though, the plumage brings to mind things like failure and effort. I put in to speak at a couple conferences this year as part of a goal for myself to go out and do more at conferences and maybe network a bit more.

I got back responses - one put me on a waitlist as a possible alternate speaker, the other said no. Which, as someone who thinks they might be good at this, kind of hurts, in the way that ego gets bruised when you have a higher opinion of yourself than reality.

Because the conference selection process is usually opaque (and often with good reasons), it's not easy to determine why someone was selected and why someone wasn't. Which leaves the person who want selected with the...opportunity, I suppose, to construct their preferred narrative about the reasons. What they decide to do with it depends on them and the situation they're in.

It's easiest to blame external forces for why things didn't happen - after all, someone else was making the decision about whether or not I came. This sort of external attribution can run the spectrum from benign ideas to malice-filled conspiracies. More and more in seeing the malice part of it. This seems to be a backlash against the increasing trend of conferences adopting Codes of Conduct regarding attendee and presenter behavior to curb instances of harassment and conferences adopting explicit calls and stances to increase the diversity of their presenters. If you're playing on an easier difficulty level (as I am), the explicit diversity call is an easy scapegoat to hang why you weren't selected - some "quota" that let in less-qualified presenters and kept out you. It's not fair, something something, political correctness. Which conveniently feeds the idea that white people, and especially white men, are the real victims of discrimination these days and the world should go back to the way it was, with white men unquestionably the best at everything and everyone else underneath, using bootheels if necessary. You can see that mentality everywhere - the Republican Party, Fox News, MRAs, PUAs, the idea that there are such things as "alpha" and "beta" men, redpillers, Gamergate, the Sad and Rabid Puppies, the serious use of the ideas "feminazi" or "social justice warrior", and so forth. It boils down to an attitude that believes expressing a preference for anything other than straight cis white Protestant men is embracing lawlessness and license to do anything illegal or immoral, because that preference hurts their ego and self-insistent belief that white men did everything to build civilization and are the only people who can preserve it, so clearly they deserve the position at the head of the table (and every other position, too) and the adoration of all the others who would otherwise be uncivilized if left to their own devices. It's very easy to blame the outside.

It's equally easy to blame the inside. The first thing that came to mind at those results was, "Huh. Maybe I'm not as good at this as I think I am." Which can be a realistic assessment of capabilities and contexts, or which can lead to "...and therefore I should stop trying and accept that I am useless and worthless at this." That way lies Impostor Syndrome, which can be inculcated very early on in life, in those places where we are reduced to our quantifiable selves by entities scrutinizing our potential and to caricatures of our complex selves in our social interactions - school. If the narrative that has been constructed around you says you're the smart kid, failure is an opportunity for ridicule and shame, not a useful building block to success. If you're the dumb kid, you may never get to show your true intelligence because remedial classes eat your time and leave you no elective. Die as much lip service is given to the idea of the "well-rounded child", there is precious little in the way of allowing children to learn and demonstrate those things that allow them to become a complex person in the eyes of others. If the self internalizes the message that there are only a few, or one, thing(s) about them that matter, any blow to those things reverberates throughout. If I don't succeed at the things I'm supposed to be good at, what is there left for me to build myself with? A rather fragile tower can collapse easily and take the rest of self-esteem with it. In earlier parts of life, it would have.

One of these problems comes from an excess of ego, the other from an unstable one. Neither are particularly healthy. At the same time, I don't think that meditation or other methods that are supposed to help get ego out of the way will help with these things.

The best way forward is between those two points. Pointed out to me was the possibility that I am as good as I think I am, and the selection committees just didn't choose me. Ego intact, truth still true, no need to attribute motivations, conspiracies, or demerits and self-destructive ideas to anyone. The universe being random, people making decisions based on the strength of the presentations and their ideals and desires to see more people who may have been excluded from presenting get a chance to do so. It's the easiest and the most difficult decision to make, the one that confirms reality and chooses not to substitute a more convenient narrative. If you wanted something to kill ego, living in reality, acknowledging it as it comes, rather than trying to make reality fit your own ideas, will be very effective. And possibly depressing. But it also allows you to be your fully complex self by not letting any one aspect come to dominance or lead you to believe that it is the sole aspect that matters.

There's always going to be another time to show off and try again, much like the fanning of the plumage.


silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
Silver Adept

October 2017


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