When I began attending grammar school, I learned that I was the weird kid. In the first environment in which we keep score, I stood out as a failure. Sure, my grades were okay, but where it supposedly mattered – the esteem of my colleagues – I was outside. Once the weird kid works out some detente with the bullies, and settles down with the fact that people generally don’t care what you do, you can find some non-social activities that interest you and coast through your days as a slacker.
In time it was revealed to me that my failure was a consequence of my intelligence. I was eventually transferred to the gifted school, but I was still a weird kid, who had had trouble socializing, and even at the gifted school I remained weird. That I was weird because I was allegedly smart, yet even among the smart kids I was weird, taught me skepticism. Maybe I wasn’t really that smart, or maybe smart had nothing to do with it.
Being weird isn’t all that bad, as long as you have somewhere else to spend your attention. For me, where other kids had friends and a social life, I had books and model trains and video games. Throughout my life I have tended toward words and hobbies and puzzles while others spend their time calling friends, planning parties, and following gossip.
Eventually I was able to cultivate some of these skills, the computer stuff, into highly-desired talent. Undersocialized and insecure, I became somewhat warped by the culture of other systems and network administrators to assume that I was underappreciated and underpaid, and most other people were mewling morons.
Of course, if I am the guy who knows everything, why am I underpaid – and eventually, under-employed during some times of economic turbulence? The recession brought further revolution of character – I’m not dumb, and among intelligent people I’m still very capable, but things just aren’t working out. Am I some genius who must find his own way?
I went through my Hunter Thompson phase, and while I have a few great photographs and some interesting stories to tell, I don’t have any proof of genius. Instead, I got married to a smart, good looking woman with her own self-absorbing complexities, and have settled in to a decent job where I can do good work for good pay, and because once you have a half decade’s experience as a SysAdmin, you don’t normally have to lose too much sleep over things, my life has some slack with which I can cultivate the fine art of living. Stuff like literature and wine and socializing with my wife and our friends, pondering a future of possibilities of parenthood and home ownership.
What a long, strange trip it’s been. And I’m only about a third of the way through the life I might expect to live. Stay tuned.