Monday, May 10, 2010

Chad Eng- What I've Learned

Chad is a nerd name, except in the UK where it’s classy. Until I move, I’m stuck being a nerd. I feel like most people grow into their name at some point in their lives. I got a nerd name, so I honed my nerd-itude pretty early on in life. Every once in a while, I’ll be in denial about it, but it is just the way the cards have been dealt for me. New moms thinking about naming their daughters Trixie or Jade or Chrysanthemum should just plan on their daughters being strippers or whores.

You have to play their game, and it IS a game. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you’re trying to get ahead in life. It’s about having connections and playing whatever game that connection wants played. Whether it’s school, a job, church, whatever, it’s a game. I’m not saying you have to kiss someone’s ass, you just have to be able to give them what they expect, not what YOU expect. I’ve got friends smarter than me who refuse to play the game and are stuck. I chose to play the game and I’ve done fairly well for myself.

I play other games as well. I always hated it when people got ahead and left me in the dust in school or jobs. I don’t want my friends to think that. So I play the part of a slacker, even when I’m not. I pretend to be broke, even when I’m not. I pretend to get bad grades, even when I don’t. I pretend to be stupid, even when I’m not. I know people know I do this, but I miss being irresponsible and lazy, and my friends are kind enough to play along with my little self-head game.

I’m a judger, but not a reactor. I totally judge people based on status, style, attitude, physical characteristics, friends, choice of vehicle and just about everything else. While I do this with reckless abandon, I VERY seldom actually use this internal judgment to effect how I interact with people I see. I could see a guy dressed in khaki pants, a Hollister shirt, and a frayed-brim white hat and I’ll treat him like my own brother, even though clearly that guy is a douche bag. Despite my judgmental attitude, I’ll always give someone the befit of the doubt and utmost respect until they prove themselves to be the person I assumed them be in the first place. I’m also the very first to admit I’m completely wrong about someone I’ve judged.

People’s expectations of me never align with reality. People see me as being a “metal guy”, however, I listen to country, rap, folk, girl singers, Yanni, I have a degree in classical music performance, and I sing Lady Gaga/Boyz II Men/Taylor Swift on Karaoke nights. Metal guys all drink beer, yet, I can’t stand beer. I’ll drink girly drinks, scotch, and wine, but I can’t stomach beer. Metal guys all love horror movies. While I DO love a good horror film, I also love Bridget Jones’ Diary (including the second one), French Kiss, Real Women Have Curves, and Amelie. All of these things just prove I’m the worst metal guy ever. This very likely is why I can judge people based on looks and still be open to the possibility that they may not be at ALL what I think they are.

Having emotions is weird to me until recently. Having friends that let you be emotional is incredibly moving.

Things I’ll never be good at:
  • Golf - I’ve played for more than 20 years and I have finally gotten to where I can usually break a hundred for 18 holes. I simply don’t care enough to take lessons or learn anything. I golf because I love golfing with friends who similarly don’t care. Social golf is faaaaaar more addicting than competitive golf
  • Bowling – I come from a huge family of bowlers. In fact, when I was younger I was good enough to go to state a couple of times. Sadly, I just don’t care enough to put in effort (plus I judge the HELL out of bowlers). Again, it’s a social thing that I do once a year and enjoy hanging with friends.
  • Music – I love music and I love being in bands, but majoring in music taught me that I will never be a good enough musician to actually make money at it. People dedicate their lives to music and never make it – not even close. It’s even more sad and depressing when I think about classical music people who will literally put in 8-10 hours of practice time in hopes of making it huge, and then a punk-ass 16 year old kid with a distortion pedal in his mom’s basement gets a record deal and tours the world with his 3-chord horseshit songs. It’s sooo infuriating and unfair. There are phenomenal musicians that will never even make a splash because they don’t know the right people or don’t have the theory down. Music is a cruel mistress and I’m glad for my time with her, but I’m a realist enough to know it’s better off left in the “fun” category and not in the “I need to make enough money to eat ramen noodles” category.
  • Business – I simply don’t care enough about business to make money at it. I’m getting my MBA currently, and I still just don’t care. I’ve gotten really good at making myself valuable to my boss and making each of my bosses look good to their own bosses so I’ve been able to keep a really steady job. But don’t hire me to run your books or develop a new product or negotiate a billion dollar contract – I just don’t care. I like what I do, but I also don’t disillusion myself into thinking I’m irreplaceable.
  • Fitness/Nutrition – People die every day of heart attacks from eating bad food or drinking. People I know, in fact. I absolutely don’t care when it happens to me. Yes, it will be terrible for my friends and family, but I’m not going to limit myself like those annoying friends I have that count every molecule of substance they put in their mouths, and I’m not going to hit the gym 3 times a week and build muscle mass so I can wrestle a bear. (I will tell you that I do run on the treadmill occasionally ONLY because it’s really embarrassing to get winded walking up a flight of stairs and I had an ex-girlfriend tell me that if I ever got so fat that I held back her vacationing plans, she’d leave me – plus I can watch bad movies while I run inside and no one can see me jiggle like Homer Simpson). I don’t want to be remembered for being a health nut or a fitness guy. I want to enjoy my life and be known for eating 2-foot brats and taking a 7-pound burrito eating challenge. You don’t get to pick when you go – enjoy it while you’ve got it.
Self-deprecating humor is funny and comforting to self-conscious people but not to confident people. I’ve discovered that when you joke around about how fat and old you are to people who are fat and old, they find it comforting because you’re one of them. I’ve also recently discovered (the hard way) that when you joke around about being fat and old with someone who is neither fat nor old and who loves you for being you (regardless of weight or age), this makes them question whether they are doing something wrong to make you think this way. I had no idea. Probably one of the top 3 most important lessons I’ve learned in the past 10 years.

Why I think the campaign against re-using water bottles is shite. If the bottles themselves were bad, why would companies keep selling water in said bottles. The whole thing is a ploy to get you to buy nalgene bottles. I’m not buying it. I will continue to utilize plastic water bottles ad nauseum and chop anyone in the throat who tells me reusing them is bad for me.

I am coming to the realization that I might be more “open” than some of my friends. I’m a pretty open guy. I’m not stubborn or set in my ways and I like to think I’m open to change. In fact, if you can give me an articulate and compelling argument (for the record, I LOATHE the person that coined this phrase), I will not only listen to you, I will make every attempt to figure out what the qualities are that make you feel a certain way about something. And then I’ll go one step further and try to find a reason why I should also feel that way about it. This isn’t fake, this is empathy and also trying to figure out what makes my friends tick. My mind is not only open to change, but eager to be convinced. You should capitalize on this. I feel like some of my friends are very set in their ways and can’t be budged. Which, in all honesty, I don’t mind that much (it makes them more predictable). However, when you are convinced you’re open to change and the rest of the world sees you as non-budging, then I think we have what’s called a disconnect from reality. Fix it.

My life is pretty much like this post: a series of non-related events that have shaped me into the person I am today. There’s no flow, there’s no rhyme or reason, just a bunch of stories, both good and bad, over a period of time. I’m not trying to get from point A to point B – I’ve been faking it this long, I might as well keep going now.