I have a small, but definitive list of Things That Fucked Me Up™. In an attempt to shine light into the dark places, I'm bringing them out into the sun and burning them away, like the fucking emotional and spiritual vampires they are.
First up, the conversation I had with Ben Cody back in 2018. We were talking about the ex-Google asshat who said women shouldn't be engineers because they don't have the mental capacity for engineering (no, those were not his exact words, but that's the message he conveyed to pretty much everyone). Ben will argue both sides, and at one point asked me, "But, what if we're wrong?" What if women really aren't as capable as men for maths? (step aside the giant Fuck You that comes with that question aaaaaaaand....) Yes, we want equality (well, those not in power do, the ones IN power want things to stay the same, but that's a different post), but what if we actually can't have equality because we aren't equal?
We cannot separate systemic problems (of bias, of lack of opportunity, etc.) from ability at this point, with our current infrastructures, societies, and biases, so barring a giant, concerted-effort reset, yes, of course, we can be equal. Or, one could argue, women are better, as we are move creative and work better together.
That's not what I said to Ben, though.
Instead, I internalized, "But what if we're wrong?"
The question assaulted me at the same time I was reading Free Will, which already had me questioning pretty much everything. Suddenly, I was able to trust exactly nothing in my world. My thoughts went something like, "Here is this thing I feel strongly about... ... ... ... ... ... ... but what if I'm wrong?"
Doubt is a stunningly crippling feeling. The avalanche of doubt I felt was unbearable. I stopped knowing myself.
And then one morning, I realized, I was asking, "But what if I'm wrong?" about everything good in my life. What if I asked it about the bad things, too? What if I asked it about the assumptions that were causing the doubts? What if I asked it about the crushing thoughts that creeped in when I was trying but didn't believe I could succeed? What if I asked it about the negative emotions that were overwhelming me? What if I'm wrong about all the bad things?
Then maybe I'm not as awful as I was thinking I was.
Maybe I'm okay.
Maybe I'm better than okay.
Maybe I just am, and that's enough.
I've managed to move through whatever manufactured existential crisis I had going on there. I'm still asking myself, "But what if I'm wrong," but not in a soul crushing, fucked up way. Instead, it's a more balanced, scientific approach. I BELIEVE THIS THING. Wait, am I wrong? Don't know, let's find out, examine the assumptions, follow the logic, and sometimes, nope, I'm not wrong, and I CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THIS THING. Sometimes I am, but it isn't always any more.