Assertiveness and Callousness – Two Sides of the Same Coin?

I swear this is like the fourth draft of this post I’ve written. I just can’t seem to find a way to express the idea that’s concise and on topic. I still feel as though I have only succeeded in the latter.

The problem, both the one I’m speaking about and post itself, really boils down to cognitive dissonance. There are a lot of conflicting thoughts and factors bouncing around in my head and the effort of reconciling them is… a noticeable strain. As are the ones that have yet to be dealt with.

Unfortunately this has left me in a somewhat fouler mood than usual, which is problematic in that I don’t consider myself a particularly nice person to begin with. Of course, that isn’t the side of myself that is generally presented outward. In a way, the outward expression is a better gauge of my impact on the world and I at least feel that this blog is generally positive. At the very least, nobody has bothered to tell me otherwise.

Introspectively, though, I find the view much darker, and take comfort in the fact that this is likely a common thing to experience. Of course, even the more unpleasant and discarded thought are inextricably bound to the positive ones.

I have not generally considered myself an assertive person. Five to ten years ago I was very much a follower, content to go wherever the current took me because I was sure there would at least be something interesting there to tinker with. At least until the current again washed me away to some new destination with new things to see.

Then, through a series of unfortunate events, I was required to become decisive. The sort of hard and cruel choices to which there are no good answers. I learned that while I must bear at least partial responsibility for the unknowable outcomes of those choices, I did not have to blame myself for them. That who I was, at that exact moment, would likely always make that choice. I powered on in the hope that one day things would improve. That ground was being gained, an inch at a time, and perseverance would see it through to the end.

It did, of course, though the process from one end to the other had a fairly heavy price. It nearly cost me my immediate family and to this day I do not speak to my parents. I have a court order that says they aren’t allowed to contact me unless I contact them first, and have every intention of keeping it that way in hopes that it can prevent history from repeating itself.

It provides a certain amount of confidence, though, when you persevere and succeed. In a way it makes so many other things small and irrelevant. Next to the obliteration of everything I worked to preserve, something like getting fired feels meaningless. Compared to cutting myself off from my extended family, the judgement of random internet strangers is… amusing. It has simultaneously left me cold and callous and yet empowered.

The upside of all that is it enabled me to undertake things like this blog. I mean, who’s gonna stop me? I stood to lose nothing but a little time, what’s a month, after all? I stood to gain a lot, though. Blaugust had, and presumably has, an audience. As far as I know most of my readers came from that group. I started simply to prove to myself that I could.

Of course, this leaves my job as nothing more than a means to an end that I tolerate because it is convenient. The conveniences it provides, though, are difficult to replace. It is the cement that holds me against my will. Which is why on the back of blogging success, because I consider only missing a few days over eight months a success, I chose to apply to a college.

It’s really weird to me, though. That assertive power feels tainted, like Saidin, the male half of the Source in the Wheel of Time books. The more assertive I become the more angry and dismissive I am, a truly horrifying thing for me to behold in myself. It somehow makes people seem more like obstacles to move around or through and less like, well, people.

That’s the big source of cognitive dissonance right now. Trying to find that zone where I can remain assertive without dehumanizing anyone. I’m sure I will find some balance eventually, and I’ll find I need to tweak it a little here, a little there, but the toll it’s taking seems excessive. Each draft of this post has left me drained, at least briefly, and the daily repeating of it grows tiresome.

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