Wednesday, December 15, 2010

on being good

I have a lot to say and very little excuse for why I haven't said it yet, since I do have a decent amount of free time.  But I'm tired, which makes me forget what I have to say.

At some point there will have to be a retrospective, because 2010 was a hell of a year.

The biggest thing I have learned this year is that in life there are no brownie points.

I'm big on brownie points.  This is perhaps because I screw up a lot, so I need them.  But it's mostly because the way I'm constituted makes me always want to be looking over my shoulder, checking if I am earning all the gold stars.  I like to be thorough; when I play video games, I like to kill all the bad guys rather than just dodging them.  I don't like to test the system; if I'm told I absolutely have to be at work at 8:30 on the dot every morning for training and it takes half an hour to get there, I'll leave at 7:45, every morning, even after I see other people waltz in at 8:32 and 8:35 and 8:45 with no or few consequences.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It's good to be conscientious.  And there are certain areas of my life in which I could afford to be more conscientious (these days, alarmingly, that's the Not Eating Yogurt-Covered Pretzels For Lunch area).  But overall I tend to live as if there's some sort of gold-star chart at the back of the classroom, and maybe when I die there will be an award for the girl who has amassed the most.  And what I've learned this year is, well, there had better be such an award when I die, because there is certainly not going to be one before that.  Nobody ever says, "gee, you were at work early every morning for sixteen weeks, even the morning the entire subway system flooded.  Great job!"  Similarly, there are not prizes given out for never taking a long coffee break, or for going to the gym every morning, or for getting good Xmas presents for your whole family.  In general, there is no reward for being good.

So being good has to be its own reward, which means you have to choose what of it you do.  Going to the gym before work is its own reward about three days a week.  The other days, sleeping an extra 90 minutes is a better reward.  Getting good presents for people is its own reward - but paying extra to ship them faster is not.  Getting a project at work done is rewarding, but staying until seven just because everyone else is that day, is not. Going to bed early... well, somebody needs to find  way to bundle that with something I actually want to do.

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