Why So Serious?

I've dealt with a few things over the course of my life. Poverty and severe illness top the list of those that were the most difficult to overcome in the immediate sense of things. Finding food every day and finding the will to crawl out of bed are two of the most difficult challenges I've had to overcome in the short term, but in the long-term sense of things? Few issues have been more insidious than a profound sense of never being taken seriously. 

I've had a lot of fallbacks in life. I've maintained few jobs or personal relationships long-term. I don't have a lot of practical skills, and I don't have a lot of common interests with other people; in short, there are few angles by which people have managed to forge some sense of a bond with me. I'm often treated with kid gloves. People walk on eggshells around me, expecting that I might explode at the slightest hint of anything going wrong. I don't know why; I feel like I've dealt with my fair share of hardships successfully, largely on my own. And yet even the occasional person I find who, like me, has few things in common with others in their life treats me as though I'm a child in his thirties. Like I fell into a coma when I was 11 or 12 and woke up yesterday, and can't be expected to understand how the world works. 

I recently went into business for myself. I thought that this would help things... and it did, to an extent. However, my income is -- at present -- barely sufficient to make ends meet, and I seem to have underestimated the capacity of those around me to look at that with blinkers on. Nevermind that I'm finding my own clients, networking, and securing enough work on a job-by-job basis to pay the bills; if I make $1500 in a month, everyone looks at me like I'm working at McDonalds... perhaps with a few hours at Taco Bell on the weekends for good measure. 

Everything I say needs to be verified by some other source. 

I'm expected to take hours' worth of advice from other people, but if I ever dare to express concern about their well-being when they're in a difficult spot? "Don't worry 'mom,' I got it." People are genuinely insulting, and downright dismissive of anything I say having any kind of veracity. 

The hardest part about all of this is that this comes from people who are otherwise not like that, and they become very aggressive if challenged over it. I say "challenged," but I'm a reasonable person; I'm talking about sitting down and trying to talk calmly about things. I don't have a lot of issues with people in general, aside from this; I'm a bit of a loner, but I'm not constantly expressing my disappointment or exasperation with other people, or anything like that. The feeling I get is that people who treat me in the way I've been talking about in this post... friends, family, whoever... like me "in spite of" something that I can't seem to pin down about myself. 

It makes me wonder if I really don't deserve to be taken seriously... as... a man? As a person? As an adult? I don't even know. 

Sometimes, I do get the feeling that this is something people aren't aware that they're doing. I feel like I must be triggering it myself, for this to be a lifelong issue with virtually everyone I come to deal with over the long term, in any capacity. I recently approached a friend about the idea of buying a gun to take to the range; I admire the responsibility and the culture of firearms ownership, and I've enjoyed firing a gun at the range in the past. My friend gave me over an hour's worth of advice and media relating to firearms ownership: what to buy, how to make my decision, price ranges, etc. This time, I didn't mind it; she'd been looking to do the same thing herself recently, and I knew she'd done boatloads of research on the subject. I respect that. When I know someone has researched something thoroughly, I respect their word, and treat them like a valuable resource. That's the kind of thing I ask for in return, that's all. 

If she honestly thought I was an incompetent half-wit, she wouldn't have encouraged me to buy a firearm. There are plenty of reasons for me not to get one: I've little need of it for self-defense. I don't live in a dangerous location. I've no history with violent people, or with people connected to violent people. I don't tend to pursue dangerous situations. None of this was raised by her, however; there was a profound air of "if this is what you want, go for it." A slight sting of "are you sure you know what you're doing?" ...

...but that might be me.

Hell, I don't know. It might ALL be in my head. Who knows.

User Comments
Anon-1

It sounds like you've never really connected with a lot of people to the point where I think sme take it for granted, as far as "confidence coming from within." We all had to -learn- that from somewhere. I'm willing to bet you're just as capable and knowledgable as anybody else -- but perhaps in different areas than what most people are familiar with. Either way... don't let it get you down! Not to sound patronizing or anything, really. 

Anon-2

I think it's all in your head, but not in a deluded way; try looking at how you approach conversations with other people. Do you ask questions like "wow, really?" or "where did you hear that?" when they make an assertion you're not familiar with? Is it because you don't believe them, or because you're interested and you want to hear more? Maybe you hear it from others a lot because you're interested in less common areas of focus, and a lot of people simply have no idea what you're talking about... but are actually interested. 

Anon-3

Your friend offered you advice on gun ownership after researching it herself. She obviously doesn't think you're a complete tool. Hopefully, this is something unintentional, maybe resulting from you talking about things that other people aren't into or don't understand. Either way, I think that the best way to prove everyone wrong would be to spend some time in exhaustive research. Next time someone asks for sources, give them some, and watch their eyes bug out of their heads ;)

Anon-4

Please don't take this the wrong way. I don't think you're ignorant or unaware of the things you talk about. I think you might be over-analyzing, and probably trying much too hard to be interesting, when all you've got to do is be yourself. 

Thanks for the comment. I'm going to make it right back, or at least the part about "fire hurts," because I think there's a point there that applies (and it's easy to ignore our own advice; please trust me, I do know this much :/ ). Maybe people are interested in what you have to say, and want more information. A lot of people are awful at continuing conversations. You could be intimidating them, or putting them off... not by being a know-it-all or having a bad attitude, but through actually *being* knowledgable.