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The World Does Not Wait [Sep. 29th, 2005|10:27 am]
[Current Mood |geekytutorial]

My entry yesterday elicited an unexpected reaction from some people. To summarize, it came down to, "you shouldn't treat the ability to cope as superior to the inability to cope."

Except, it is.

I realize that a statement this blunt is probably going to make people angry, and it may cost me a chunk of my audience. But I'm going to say it anyway: the world doesn't care about your problems, and if you let them rule you, it will punish you for them.

You're not supposed to say things like this. Everyone is supposed to be able to feel good about themselves and never be judged for their disabilities.

That is a big lie that the world tells you to make itself feel better about the reality: it judges. This isn't about me judging anyone. Some of the people I have referred to as my heroes are people whom circumstance has rendered unable to cope with the world in the way the world would prefer. But they will tell you that they have to overcompensate for their disabilities, and that there are times when they can't, and the world does punish them for it. It's not vicious or intentional, this punishment. It's just a grinding fact of life:

The less you are able to cope, the more the world will leave you behind.

I know this, because I've had it happen to me. When I went to college, I did not cope particularly well. Oh, I graduated with a B+ average, but I did it on the strength of my innate writing abilities and good memory. I wasted a lot of time, got a basically worthless degree, and skated. I had no career goals and no future plans, and it showed. Even though I felt like I was doing my best, coping to the best of my abilities, I did nothing to excel or stand out. Grad school was even worse. After developing my program, I never went back to my advisor. I took classes and floundered around and pretty much wasted two years. I would go out of my way to avoid the building housing my advisor's office, telling myself that tomorrow I really would call him, really would get myself on track - but right now I just couldn't cope. Ergo, I have no master's degree despite two years of courses. The world does not look upon this fact and say, wow, she had a rough childhood and she really felt like she was trying her best; we should give her the job anyway just because she tried. Nope, the world says, Master's Degree required, so why are you even applying, you loser?

Even now in law school, there are times when I get overwhelmed. Last spring I handed in a paper on which I knew I could have done better, but I did all that I was physically and emotionally capable of doing. I simply could not put one more scrap of myself into it. The fact that I was going through Kristi's surgery, a lot of other turmoil, and carrying three other very difficult classes had no impact on my grade. My effort was an "A" effort on the sliding scale of how much I could manage, but the grade on my report card was a "B".

The job world is the same. Certainly everyone has understandable life crises - death of a parent, illness, accident - and your fellow employees will rally 'round for that. But if your crises are weekly - fights with your significant other, disputes with your children/parents/landlord/neighbor, your own inner turmoil - and those crises reverberate in the quality of your work product, people are going to get sick of you pretty damned quickly. They smile at you through clenched teeth and say, "No, it's okay, I understand." But what they are thinking is, "what the hell is wrong with you?"

Because every time you fail to cope, someone else has to cope in your place.

Coping in your place is stressful because they already have their own issues, so yours are an unanticipated burden for which they have not scheduled. If it's happening more than once or twice a year, your most sincere apologies begin sounding hollow to the person who works through lunch to cover your ass.

You can accuse me of being unfeeling or uncaring, you can shut out my words as cruel, Randian, or heartless. You can rail against the unfairness of it all. But the world will inexorably grind on, and it will grind you. And it doesn't care how unfair that is.

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[User Picture]From: celticdragonfly
2005-09-29 02:35 pm (UTC)
You rock. Here's for recognizing reality as a separate thing from What-you-wish-was-true!
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[User Picture]From: ewtikins
2005-09-29 02:37 pm (UTC)
I agree a thousand times.

We can all choose what we do, but we can't always control what the consequences of those choices are. Knowing this, and acting accordingly, is what being a grown-up is all about.

I think a lot of wisdom is actually down to being able to do good cost/benefit analysis on when it's a good time to rest, when it's a good time to ask for help, and when it's a good time to just wimp out and escape the world for a while.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-09-29 02:38 pm (UTC)
Oh hells yeah!

I'd like for all my crap to go away now, but I gotta keep going. (Most of it I don't post about, I'm angsty enough as it is.)

Seriously WTF am I supposed to do? What does not coping get me? Nowhere. Maybe coping doesnt get me anywhere either but there is that chance. More than just falling apart.

Here's to hoping the pensions don't tank and we at least have a laid back retirement. ;)
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[User Picture]From: dakiwiboid
2005-09-29 02:39 pm (UTC)

You're right

but you're going to get flamed anyway. Not that today is different from any other day! Got that flame retardant armor handy? Have you eaten all of the virtual chocolate I gave you yesterday? By the way, hon, are you feeling better?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-09-29 03:34 pm (UTC)

Re: You're right

The shock factor is lower, so yes. The issue is still completely unresolved and I can't think about it too much without needing to put my head between my knees for a while, but I'm coping through ignoring it for now.
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[User Picture]From: lubedpumpkin
2005-09-29 02:39 pm (UTC)
the world doesn't care about your problems, and if you let them rule you, it will punish you for them.

Thank you for writing this. I can't stand it when other people tell me I have to deal with their problems. Because no, I don't. Certain circumstances aside, learn to deal with your own problems just like the rest of us.
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[User Picture]From: cheatrulesfoamy
2005-09-29 02:43 pm (UTC)
Damn right. *Drives up fire truck for the flamers, honks loudly*
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[User Picture]From: ruka_
2005-09-29 02:44 pm (UTC)
Agreed, totaly.

You get out of life what you put into it.
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From: erisreg
2005-09-29 02:51 pm (UTC)

the ability to cope as superior to the inability to cope."

called the survival of the fittest, first rule of the universe,..o.o
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[User Picture]From: tisana
2005-09-29 06:14 pm (UTC)

Re: the ability to cope as superior to the inability to cope."

Not quite.
Survival of the fittest, at least as far as Darwin was concerned, refers to whosoever spreads their genes most successfully--so some idiot who never got past 10th grade and can't be bothered with birth control and has a dozen kids? More fit than all my brilliant friends with degrees who haven't decided to have kids yet.

However, if we're not talking Darwin, yeah, I've got to agree.
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[User Picture]From: funwithrage
2005-09-29 02:56 pm (UTC)
*Much* love. Despite the whole turning-out-to-be-an-evil-scientist-zombie thing, this is one of the reasons I really liked Dr. Walsh from "Buffy."

"Right. I count four limbs, a head, no visible scarring, so I assume your personal issue wasn't a life-threatening accident of any kind, and I'm therefore uninterested." Because...yeah.
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[User Picture]From: momlady
2005-09-29 02:59 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with that! It's been happening to me for a couple of years now....you haven't lost me from your audience!
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[User Picture]From: brontosproximo
2005-09-29 03:03 pm (UTC)
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From: indigolands
2005-09-29 03:04 pm (UTC)
Hallelujah, baby, hallelujah.

This was a refreshing read. :)
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[User Picture]From: perich
2005-09-29 03:07 pm (UTC)
"you shouldn't treat the ability to cope as superior to the inability to cope."

People think this? As in, real adult human beings?

... wow.
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[User Picture]From: dolmena
2005-10-03 11:15 pm (UTC)
Well, physically mature human beings, I guess.
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[User Picture]From: listenshesings
2005-09-29 03:08 pm (UTC)
this was a great piece of writing here, really. and I feel like a bitch for telling people things like this because they look at me like "she's 19 with a stick up her ass". and yeah, I've got a mouth and I don't hold much back and maybe most people wouldn't say these types of things out loud, but yeah, I have that same "I don't give a shit about your problems" thing every day with people, especially those who come in to where I work and think there's nothing worse going on in the world right now than the fact that I don't have that sweater in their size. of course I don't say that to those particular people because I need to keep my job, but if you don't think it's running through my head every 30 seconds...yeah. and I've taken people off my friends list before because I can't stand to read how negative and whiny they've become, and I'll tell them this straight when they ask, and I'm the asshole then. ok, I'm the asshole, but I don't need your negativity in my life, thank you and have a nice day.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-09-29 03:13 pm (UTC)

I dont know the exact situations you are talking about but for me, whining in LJ is a coping mechanism.

You won't often see me flinch in my day to day life, but that's because I just have to rant on and get it out of my system and LJ is how I do it.

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[User Picture]From: siljannaferret
2005-09-29 03:09 pm (UTC)
I agree. Here it a link to a web cartoon.
click on "Drugs in your head"

If you ignore the launguage, he's saying the same thing.
Ok I think it is funny and true
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-09-29 05:54 pm (UTC)
Flagged to check when I'm not at work.
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[User Picture]From: seimaisin
2005-09-29 03:09 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of things I could say to this, but it all boils down to one word - yes. Exactly. The world isn't fair. People who can cope with that certainly aren't superior to those who can't, but they will certainly end up in a better head space.

I've been thinking about this sort of thing for a variety of reasons lately, and it's nice to see it put into such plain words. So, thanks.
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From: i_aldarion
2005-09-29 03:35 pm (UTC)
icon love!
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[User Picture]From: ladyoflight2004
2005-09-29 03:15 pm (UTC)
You are just so right! And honest enough to say it as you see it and experience it. All those who experience a non-coping period in their lives find that the world moves on in spite of you and what is happening or not happening to you. The world is peopled by hordes who have their own problems, their own ways of dealing with life on a daily basis. There will always be the bleeding-hearts brigade and thank goodness for them sometimes - but they are probably only dealing with others problems because it's easier than dealing with their own. Sounds a bit cynical, I realise, but probably true, nevertheless.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-09-29 03:18 pm (UTC)

Coping doesn't mean solving; coping doesn't mean alone.

I think I want to add, and I think you may agree at least in part that coping doesn't mean you come up with an answer, a solution. Just that you don't fall apart.

Or to elaborate more, that you don't fall apart without BACKUP.

There have been times when I could not cope with the lack of sleep in my life, with the kids, illness, whatever. But I would wait until someone responsible enough to take care of the kids (i.e. their dad) DOES, and then sleep.

Or when I had a meltdown in the supermarket over Clifford the Big Red Dog -- it probably happened because my mother was there. I was sniffly and upset and a bit teary walking down the next aisle but then when my mom got in my sight, I let it out. Why? Because I had my safety. My mother was there to make sure I didn't have a complete breakdown, and to make sure that my daughter was ok. (As opposed to me losing it and them calling 911 and my daughter going into a foster home until they figured out what the hell was going on. Worst case scenario, of course.)

Or using my journal to vent. I'm still doing quite well if you see me in person, but in my journal I look like a basket case. Better there than here, I suppose.

Or even praying. Turn it all over, let it all out, ease the burden so I can go about my business and try to get things done.

I think those are all methods of coping and I'm not even alone for them. I may not even get things done. But I'm getting through it all.
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[User Picture]From: kalieris
2005-09-29 04:07 pm (UTC)

Re: Coping doesn't mean solving; coping doesn't mean alone.

I totally agree with this. Thank you for putting it this way.
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[User Picture]From: water_childe
2005-09-29 03:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, my gods yes. Because lately I seem to have been getting more then my fair share of having to suffer, because somebody else doesn't know the first thing about managing their own crap. Then I get told, "Oh, what a healthy attitude you have, you're so strong."
I don't care how fucking strong I am, I don't need to shoulder your baggage. YOUR BAGGAGE=NOT MY JOB! Sometimes I'm willing to help, especially if you ask my permission. But don't just dump it on me!
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[User Picture]From: ministry_victim
2005-09-29 03:19 pm (UTC)
Quite honestly THE most honest post on the true objective nature of consequence and accountability I have seen in a long time. I try my damndest to write with this clarity, and for some reason, don't have it yet. Congrats.
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[User Picture]From: cat_of_dreams
2005-09-29 03:19 pm (UTC)
Reality is what you make of it, but not what you wish it to be.

Thank you for your humorous take on life and your insight into what is really there.

There are no happy endings or magic feel good fairness about the universe, but that doesn't mean you can't create happy endings or force the world to play fair. It just takes more work. ;)

The thing that no-one really wants to hear is that they are exactly where their decisions in life have lead them to be. It's not luck. It's not fate. It's not fair (other than it happens to everybody).

Your decisions lead you through your life and what life you live is the consequence of your actions.

When the world wakes up to this truth perhaps it will start to be a more enlightened place.
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[User Picture]From: joxn
2005-09-29 03:26 pm (UTC)
So are you saying that the ADA and "reasonable accommodation" are bullshit? Because it sure sounds that way.
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[User Picture]From: scouts_angel
2005-09-29 03:29 pm (UTC)
No one gave me reasonable accommodations. I had to fight to get a job for a year! with a bachelors and masters degree. When you are deaf, you can't get an interview on the phone to save your life. they know right off the bat what your disability is - unlike the blind and those in wheelchairs. And you can't prove in court that they were discriminating against you when they didn't give you an interview.

ADA - ha... Helps in extreme circumstances.
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[User Picture]From: scouts_angel
2005-09-29 03:27 pm (UTC)
Amen and this is coming from me with a hearing disability and bipolar illness. They don't care in the workplace. They don't see the illnesses because they are not visible. I talk well and hear with a cochlear implant (100% profoundly deaf without it) and bipolar is managed with medication. They don't care if you didn't sleep all night b/c you were manic. All they see if someone that looks normal on the surface and expect you to perform the same as anyone else. So alot of overcompensating has to be done for both disabilities!

You are right on the dot. It does get difficult when medications make you tired and you feel like dozing off while struggling to drive to work, stay alert at your desk, etc. But I'm not another statistic on SSI/SSDI and I wish people understood that I went to school and work while so many of my deaf friends make excuses no one will give them a job/poor education/poor english skills, etc.
Everything is a hard earned fight.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-09-29 06:07 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: meallanmouse
2005-09-29 03:29 pm (UTC)
Well, unless there are objections, it's gained you one more reader, eh?


:: waves hello ::
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-09-29 06:07 pm (UTC)
Hi there! I never object to more readers!
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2005-09-29 03:31 pm (UTC)
Life sucks and then you die. This is the ultimate in the "get off your lazy ass" series that you have written over the years.

Basically we are still animals. It's the law of the jungle out there and life doesn't grade on a curve. Sad but true.
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[User Picture]From: piseag
2005-09-29 04:03 pm (UTC)
Your comment reminded me of a song by Black Box Recorder. The lyrics go "Life is unfair; kill yourself or get over it." The song is titled "Child Psychology."
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