I Think I Put My Finger on It

I’ve been sort of off-kelter the past few days[weeks].  Not exactly sure when it started, or what exactly triggered it, but I just get the sense that my relationships with my colleagues is waning.

And it sucks.  These are the same people with whom I shared a Frisbee field with not six months ago, excited about commencing my studies and looking forward to what would transpire over the next two years.

But since, I dunno, a few weeks ago, something changed.  Again, I don’t plan to pinpoint any specific event, but I just get these feelings of despair that I’ll leave this place wondering what I just spent my money on, because it certainly wasn’t meant to be spent on two years of partially getting to know people, watching classmates gather for yearly reunions while I sit in seclusion up in the Pacific Northwest.

Tonight, fresh off a Net Impact election that ended in a way I didn’t expect, I think I targeted one cause of this frustration:

I hate competing with people.  I absolutely despise it.  I hate having to write up a platform simply to explain how I’m better than another candidate, and I hate watching others do it as well, do it better than me, and win.  Hmm, maybe I just hate losing.

I hate having to sift through the incessant discussions about recruiting, because it ultimately means that I fared better in an interview than someone else (and vice versa), and either my or his/her personality is not meeting the standard someone else sets.  Tonight, several of us that have interviews tomorrow met with a recruiter at dinner and talked about renewable energy, India, and topics that we all actually cared about.  It was beautiful.

I hate seeing others watch me sulk about all this, probably wondering why I’m in such a pissy mood and won’t talk to people, when really all I want is for someone to come over, ask what’s going on, and let me take them to the Jug for a beer so we can talk about what ails us in a way that shoulders one another’s burdens.

It’s something I miss from my Quest family in Seattle, my BIC family in Berlin, and my Vecinos family in Indianapolis: the refusal to accept “I’m good, how are you?” as a proper response to questions about life.  I don’t need a leadership position to challenge that notion, and I should get going on that before it’s too late.

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6 Responses to I Think I Put My Finger on It

  1. Friend says:

    Hmmm… reading this post made me shudder. And smile bitterly, at the same time. It’s always refreshing to see somebody so.. American (and I don’t mean that pejoratively)… have a hard look at himself and the people around him and realize the slice of society he is contributing to building is based on superficial, half-way relationships in which progress relies on the ability (nay, make that the OBLIGATION) to accept “I’m good, how are you” as a proper response to anything that is not work-related. Oh, fuck, that was a long-winded sentence. Hope the point came across, though.
    Actually, on second thought, I shouldn’t have used “American”… I should have used “American MBA-person” 🙂 Well… not that reps of the MBA culture from other nations fare much better! But I still think it’s a cultural thing, and I still see patterns, even at merry-ol’ Ross. 🙂
    I’m rooting for you to come across that wonderful internship/job (please understand that I say what follows with no intention of putting your feelings/worries down)… and I’m willing to bet that your outlook on life will improve significantly once that happens… and all of a sudden those seemingly waning relationships with your class mates will no longer seem so shallow/temporary. Simply because people will get out of the “survival” mood (Oh, Maslow, where art thou?), the mood that makes them act desperately and egoistically, and shallowly, a mood where the only focus is to make the most out of the money they spent on an MBA… and once that mood is gone and the recruiting season is over, they will have more time to focus on the holding of hands and going for beers, and planning M-treks… and all that.
    And, Matt, If you could actually taste the rancid odor of superficiality THEN (when people aren’t at their worst, busy competing for jobs), that’s when I would truly respect you… but I fear you won’t, and you’ll just go back to being lulled into thinking these people WILL be your friends 5 years from now. And sometimes in March you’ll read this post again and you’ll laugh at yourself, and you’ll just think you were depressed when you wrote this… and I hope, for your sake, that will not be the case. And even then, on that spring-like March evening you will still have that weird taste in your mouth, the same taste you had on February 4th, when you wrote the above, after yet another disappointing interaction with a fellow… classmate (for lack of a better descriptor).

    Oh, and I would like to close by thanking you for the poetry in “I just get these feelings of despair that I’ll leave this place wondering what I just spent my money on, because it certainly wasn’t meant to be spent on two years of partially getting to know people, watching classmates gather for yearly reunions while I sit in seclusion up in the Pacific Northwest.” That was one of the most beautiful blog paragraphs I read in a while. Thanks.

  2. JulyDream says:

    Hey there… Chin up! Unfortunately in this society we cultivate what I like to call, “Surface Friends”. I can’t quite explain how these friendships blossom into the type of friendship you want for years to come, but I do understand the feeling of looking around and wondering, if something really happened to me, would I call any of these people? It’s even harder when the answer isn’t an immediate yes. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have friends around you. Perhaps, with someone with whom you’d consider sharing a story, the next time they ask, how are you… simply say something other than, good. We are trained not to pry into the lives of those that do not want to share their stories and perhaps people don’t know you well enough to be able to simply tell when something is wrong. Additionally, you are welcome to ask someone to the pub to discuss life’s little and big problems. I have a close friend from college and we have dinner every couple of weeks just to talk. Sometimes, you have to ask for what you want, the worst thing that can happen is a simple no and then you are no better or worse off than you were before.

    Competition: I’ve always wondered a bit about the MBA world in the sense that you likely have many Type A personalities who all like to be in charge. Many are competitive, but in order to succeed, I think there has to be a certain level of competition. You have to try to remember with internships and jobs – it isn’t about winning! I truly believe that people end up where they are supposed to… My dad is a USC grad and that’s where I wanted to go for my undergrad, but even as a legacy, I got denied. I ended up at Colorado (Boulder), and in my mind, not getting into USC was the best thing that ever happened to me. Furthermore, you shouldn’t worry about faring better in an interview than someone else because maybe it isn’t just the interview. Maybe there’s some experience that you have and they don’t, or one you don’t have and they do. Granted, it’s hard to be measured by someone else’s standards, yet we always are. As long as you know who you are and what you’re made of… the rest is just someone else’s opinion and should have no baring in the grand scheme. It’s similar to being an applicant, I’m just as happy for the person that got accepted to Kellogg or Michigan as I am for my acceptance to Darden. This is where I’m supposed to be and it feels more right every day.

    Like I said, chin up! Keep your head held high, and know, you can ask for a conversation or a shoulder when you need one. Don’t bottle it up, vent – even if it’s just in blog form! 🙂

    (Sorry about the novel)

  3. emmiemae says:

    You have my phone number if you ever need a listening ear. I’m always up for going beyond the “I’m good, how are you?” response. Peace, friend.

  4. Sudha says:

    u know what? I am having the exactly opposite experience. I don’t want to sound like i am up in my ivory tower, or i am simply saying that my fab is better, but I know i will come off as exactly that, but i am still going to say it – I was almost waiting for the same thing to happen to me but it never did. If anything I have friends now that I can reach out to and share my despair with. The atmosphere is somehow different. u know, the difference between the quick “wats up?” when u hardly slow ur stride to let them nod back to you and the “hey man, how are u?” where u actually wait to hear a response because u know that they need someone to talk to?

  5. kay says:

    Hey Matt…. Just thought I’d stop by your blog to say “Hi” and feel it necessary to send you this poem that helps bring a little humor to the types of feelings that you described that we ALL have. Your c-group family in Seattle misses you…. Anyway, I got a kick out of this:

    We who are
    your closest friends
    feel the time
    has come to tell you
    that every THursday
    we have been meeting,
    as a group,
    to devise ways
    to keep you
    in perpetual uncertainty
    frustration
    discontent and
    torture
    by neither loving you
    as much as you want
    nor cutting you adrift.
    Your analyst is
    in on it,
    plus your boyfriend
    and your ex-husband;
    and we have pledged
    to disappoint you
    as long as you need us.
    In announcing our
    association
    we realize we have
    placed in your hands
    a possible antidote
    against uncertainty
    indeed against ourselves.
    But since our Thursday nights
    have brought us
    to a community
    of purpose
    rare in itself
    with you as
    the natural center,
    we feel hopeful you
    will continue to make unreasonable
    demands for affection
    if not as a consequence
    of your disastrous personality
    then for the good of the collective.

    –by Phillip Lopate

    Sending a big hug from Seattle-WA!

  6. […] chastened by the dog-eat-dog aspect of elections, interviews, and job offers that is slowly consuming his Ross experience.  On a lighter note, Iday is uplifted by an interaction via the Chicago GSB’s “Craigslist” […]

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