Posted by: CJ | March 28, 2010

Giving Up

Some things you don’t want to give up because giving them up means giving up hope too.

Some people dislike giving up books they’ve bought, because it means giving up on ever learning what was in them.

Many people, particularly females, don’t want to give up clothes that used to fit but now are too small. It means giving up, at least in the short- and medium-run, on losing the weight they’ve gained.

I’ve had many friends who had great difficulty dropping classes they were taking or their current major because it meant admitting to everyone that they weren’t as smart as they thought they were. (Though this certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who drops classes or switches majors.)

On the flip side, any of the above can be reversed to. People will buy clothes that don’t quite fit in the hopes that they’ll lose the weight, people will buy books they’ll never read in the hopes that they will. It goes both directions. Part of getting hope and sustaining it is continued commitments, and part of giving it up is withdrawing on those commitments.

Anyways, right now I have some issues that I need to let go of, but are difficult for me because of the broader implication.

First off, there’s one friend from college, JB, who, ever since we graduated, has refused to speak to me. My closest friends from college are the same as JB’s, and we interacted daily for at least 3 years of college. She was intense, and I was often infuriated by how insensitive she could be, but I appreciated her friendship. Apparently she didn’t appreciate mine, and feels no need to placate our mutual friends by pretending she does. (It’s not hard, though, since we live on opposite coasts.)

It’s frustrating, to me, that she’s stayed friends with so many of our mutual friends. In fact, she counts those people as amongst her closest and dearest friends. But I’m apparently just not worth it.

There are many people from college that I would accept this behavior from much more easily. Shrug it off as unimportant, and believe I hadn’t lost much. But from her, giving up on trying to have a friendship means more. It means giving up on feeling like I’ve earned her respect in my abilities as a scientist or my work-ethic, even though those aren’t related to why she dislikes me. It feels that way because she’s going to an excellent program at an excellent school, and I’m sure she’s destined for great things. Losing my friendship to her is losing one of my closest links to that excellence. Hence my worries.

The second issue is really the same, just with a different friend, RTM. She’s also in an excellent program, but our friendship has its highs and lows. It’s at a low right now, and that’s been somewhat rough on me. She’s one of my other close links to scientific excellence.

I’m not sure what to do in these cases. In the first case it complicates moving on, and in the second it complicates a friendship I’d like to keep. And both cases are because of holding on to my own insecurities. It’s also toxic for me to think about them because I ultimately just focus on those insecurities. But giving up on wanting to feel like a top-notch scientist or someone that’s as likable as his close friends is so difficult…

(I should note that feeling like a top-notch scientist is unrelated to being one. Many scientists judge themselves harshly relative to their expectations of themselves. I’m well aware that many people would be unsympathetic to any claims that I struggle more in my field than they do in theirs.)

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