Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ever notice how the first part of "analyze" is "anal"?

I'm starting to realize something about myself: I am one picky jerk. Some people tell me that I set my sights too high; I like to think of it as goal-setting. I think perfection is attainable, and if not, should be desired anyway. But in going through another period of self-scrutiny, I am starting to recognize a pattern in my dealings with other people: I want them to be perfect; and if not perfect, then as like me as possible.It all starts with me. In almost everything I do, I try to be the best. I want to be the most knowledgeable person you know. I want to be the best singer. When I lead singing, I want to put together the best service, one that flows from song to song and subconsciously reinforces the theme. I wanted to be the best martial artist that I knew. I want to be the best cook, best cashier, and the best manager in Zaxby's. I want to have the best store out of all the Zaxby's. I want my punctuation to be perfect. If I am going to take the time to do something I care about, I want it to be right.

So what, Scott, right? You're a freak. Yeah, well, that's undisputable. I think where I become a jerk is when I take my quest for perfection and require others to live up to my standards. I wish you could understand it's not malicious. I don't claim to want others to be perfect so I can watch them screw up and laugh as I punish them. I just want them to succeed; and perfection surely means success, right? I took Tae Kwon Do on and off for 8 years. I gained the rank of black belt, and was a backup instructor. I had a reputation of being very good with kids. But when I taught the adult classes, I would get complaints that I wanted too much. I would try to get the most cardio work, the most forms work, and the most technique work in to each class. I just taught the class that I would want to take. At Zaxby's, I made manager in 4 months. I am unaware of any other person in a Zaxby's (which doesn't mean it hasn't happened) that has gone from entry-level to manager that quickly. I came in with the goal of making manager, and I drove myself to accomplish that goal. Now I am the store manager, and have the power to do things my own way. The things that George did that I did not like, I can change (for the most part). The things other managers did that I felt did not help the company, I can change (because now I can tell them flat out that I expect different things and they have to do what I say). But I try not to abuse that power. I feel like I have worked very hard to be open to doing things other ways than the ways I think would be best. But I also know that I am much more detail-oriented that most people, so I will notice things they do not. I will see things to clean that most people will miss. I will notice little things that people do wrong that some would consider unimportant. But I do not consider little things unimportant.

At church, I have a problem in that I don't understand when people do things that they know are wrong. Especially if they are things that are not a struggle for me. Now, please do not read into this that I think I am perfect. I am far, FAR from perfect. I have several struggles that I cannot seem to overcome. But the ones that seem so easy, I wonder why people struggle with things that should be an easy decision. Like going to church. For me, it's a no-brainer. When I go to church often, I am a better person (do not read "perfect," read "better"). When I don't, I am a worse person. And by worse, I mean that I do not uphold the values that I hold as important in my life. I treat people badly, am very angry, am verbally confrontational, and am just a real pill to be around (more so than normal). I have noticed the same affect (with different symptoms) in others. When they do not go to church, the very values they claim to cherish get jettisoned like so much unwanted baggage.

Oh, but wait, there I go again, seeming to be so harsh on other people. Judging them with so calculating an eye, so condemning a heart, so vitriolic a tongue.

But maybe that's the point. I fear that I am driving people away because of how I treat them. I do not mean to be so judgemental, but the way I treat them is merely an extension of how I treat myself. No human alive could judge me as coldly as I judge myself. When I love something, I expect to be the best at it. When I fail, I cut myself to ribbons. Some of this leaks out and others have witnessed it: the apologies, the comments I make about myself, the determination to do better next time. But some see the affects and do not realize it. The self-flaggelating remarks that are made only slightly in jest. The self-effacing humor that invites you to deride me the way I deride myself. That humor that is dangled in front of you to see if you think I am as ridiculous just like I think you do.

I expect the pursuit of perfection from others because that is what I pursue. I expect them to want to be the best, just like I do. When I push others, I am trying to push myself. I drive myself so hard that when I am around other people, I drive them off a cliff. I obsess about the little things, because all of life is made up of little things. Get all the little things right, you must be close to perfection. Should I not ask of others their best? Is that not what I attempt to give them, every day? I do try, believe it or not. I sometimes feel like I pour my heart out for other people in trying to either help them or pass on something I have learned. Is it to much to ask that they have that same devotion? Where do you draw the line and say, "Scott, you have asked too much?" I feel that if others tried as hard as I do, my job would not be as hard.

Do I care too much? And in my own, twisted way of caring, am I actually hurting others? I guess I could try to back off a little bit, but won't that simply encourage mediocrity? Maybe my problem is that I never learned how to dream small.

By the way, isn't it fun to watch others wallow in self-pity? "What frivolity! Scott flounders like a fish in the corner of an aquarium; not realizing he has but to look up to free himself!"