The Mirror

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Temptation: why won't you leave me alone?
Lurking in the corner, everywhere I go.

Self-control: don't turn your back on me now,
when I need you the most.

Constant pressure
tests my will,
my will or my won't;
my self-control escapes from me, still.

— Dream Theater, The Mirror

A short time ago I came to the realisation that I had slipped into a somewhat insidious delusion about myself. Like many others in my family, I am an incredibly stubborn and willful individual; this likely comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me more than superficially, but it is something that lies somewhat deeper beneath the surface of my pleasant veneer, so not everyone is aware of it.

The depth to which it runs is, however, something people usually do not expect; I simply do not back down if I'm forced into a corner. Ever. It is this commitment that ensures that, so far as my own moral standards and commitments are concerned, I am completely incorruptible; if you think I'm bluffing, and call my bluff, you may find yourself extremely unpleasantly surprised. Please note that this has nothing to do with intellectual debate and discussion; this is an issue of other people attempting to impose their will on me.

Very few people have glimpsed how deep this runs; I'm not a confrontational person by nature, and I make every attempt to avoid situations where my options narrow drastically. However, on the odd occasion, people have caught a glimpse of how far I'm willing to go, and it's not pretty. I wouldn't be surprised if this attitude causes my untimely death at some point, although I hope it never comes to that.

So, having this kind of certainty is quite reassuring in some ways; present versions of myself do not have to worry about future versions of myself giving in to certain pressures, and in general it makes me feel like a very strong-willed individual. Imagine my surprise, then, when I realised that I was actually being quite weak-willed in many areas. The problem, if you have not already figured it out, is this: if someone pushes me, I push back. Hard. However, if nobody is pushing, then I'm not doing any pushing back, and I now realise that means not doing any pushing ever. Over time, I've continually engineered my way into situations where people have less and less opportunity to try to push me, and that has resulted in a sort of stagnation.

If I actually want to be serious about my life, this is something that's going to have to change. I'm not sure what the solution is, yet, but at least knowing about the problem means I can start devising a solution. Hopefully maintaining awareness of this particular weakness will help guide my path away from it, but only time will tell…

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