This won’t be a zen post. If you came by for something zen today, you’d better walk away right now. I totally understand that many of my readers are looking to find here their daily dose of serenity, motivation or inspiration. And, most of the time, they do. But today is gonna be different. If only because life is not a sequence of zen moments and, every now and then, puts us in challenging situations.
A Romanian Story
The other day, a Romanian blogger, let’s call him A., mentioned me in one his tweets, with something like “somebody tell @dragosroua that he’s doing a shitty work by keeping his link on a paid WordPress theme”. Yep, exactly. That’s what I said too: “What?!”. What’s the link between shit and a… link? I couldn’t see any. And what theme?
I don’t usually engage, but this time something made me to (in the end, my hunch proved me right). So I answered back: “what theme?”. I don’t sell any theme, I’m only part of a WordPress framework where I sell subscriptions, not products. It’s a big difference. He replied: “sumo, do you sell others?”. So I said to myself, this is going to be a long afternoon, but let’s start it anyway. First, let’s see if we can have some common concepts: “do you understand the difference between a theme and a framework?”. He answered: “right. but it’s still shtity”.
At that point I realized that we were not about finding the truth about a situation, being it a tiny link on a product, but about saying: “what you do is shitty”. I call this trolling. When you always say “no”, no matter what the other person responds. Don’t get me wrong, trolling is a very profitable job, if you know how to do it. It attracts thousands of visitors each day. They silently admire how the troller manages to tell all kind of stupid, sometimes spectacular things, to a more and more helpless interlocutor. And that traffic sometimes even converts. In advertising, mostly. And it converts very poorly, but that’s another story.
So, knowing that we’re not going to advance, I answered: “so it’s trolling, IMHO”. Waiting to see if we do have the same opinion about trolling. There might have been a chance that the other guy was an honest individual, looking to find something about something. In that case, he would have come forward with something like: “yes, trolling is shitty, I’m not trolling, I just want to know x and y from you. Can we?”. But nothing happened. Nothing came back.
Until today, when the same blogger wrote a very nice piece of work about yours truly. On his blog, this time. Two and a half paragraphs. Half of one of them was a reference to another article in which another troll, now the biggest blogger in Romania, engaged in a similar conversation with me, five years ago. By the way, the same number one blogger in Romania still makes a decent amount of traffic by talking about my ex-wife and her own opinions about me. What can I say, I’m famous…
But back to this two paragraphs article. To make a long story short: if you didn’t know by now, I’m arrogant, I have a very bad image in Romania and everybody is running away from me because I will cheat them. Badly. And if at some point I will end in a hole, Christ Himself won’t be able to save me. Romanian are Orthodox and they take these things very seriously. And their most popular bloggers have a natural ability to mix shit and Christ in the same paragraph.
The Inflated Ego
After I finished the article I found his phone number (toldya I have a very bad image in Romania but apparently I’m still able to find a blogger’s phone number in less than 10 minutes, if need will be). I called him and started a calm and normal conversation. It took me a while until I finally got him to listen. Until then, he was very upset that I hurt his feelings by making him a troll. Anyway, after ten minutes we got to the following conclusions:
- I’m not selling a theme, I’m selling a subscription to a framework
- I have the right to keep whatever link I want in whatever parts of my products
- If he felt hurt, that wasn’t my intention
Of course, nothing about he hurting my image on his blog, about his assumptions that I’m an arrogant cheater and so on and so forth. But no request about these topics was made from my part either, to be honest. Because, in the end, I don’t really care about that. And now we finally came to the core of the article. What we read so far was only the setup.
The plot thickens. 🙂
Whenever you attack somebody else (without being attacked first), being it verbally or physically, you express fear. You’re in a “fight or flight” situation. Something is pushing you to such a point that you must find an outlet for this pressure. Most of the time, people who are going around arguing are scared. Even frightened.
They can’t express fear in a normal way. Most of the time, they even forgot what made them so fearful. It may have been that they didn’t have enough attention as kids. And now they will do everything to get your energy, even if it’s negative energy. They can’t stand the fact they’re going to be left alone. Solitude is triggering so many hurtful memories, that they will do anything to get rid of them.
Of course, most of this process is unconscious. If they will be able to take it to light, in their consciousness, allegedly, they will be able to process it and find a healthy way of expressing their needs. But they don’t bring it to the conscious level. Mostly because they already have the habit of the “fight or flight” situation and habits are very powerful. Not to mention that the psychological reward is fulfilled, even in a “fight or flight” situation. They get their thrill. So, they not only think this is the “right” way of going around, but also that this is the “only” way to do it.
A very close relative to fear is frustration. But, as opposed to fear, which usually bursts in with short and powerful actions, frustrations builds up in time. Tiny things that aren’t the way you want, some small needs that are never really fulfilled, or even long time memories that are still making you blush, all these things are creating an invisible swamp around you.
And in that swamp you start to crawl. You get bitter and bitter, forgetting the fact that you created that swamp. It wasn’t there before. Your unfulfilled needs, your memories, your incongruences with reality made that swamp appear. But you don’t remember that. And you know that? Because you found a better creator for your situation: somebody else. And that somebody else has a fundamental quality: he’s guilty.
Frustration is making us irresponsible. We’re so bugged and pressured that we can’t stand for our own actions. We delegate our misery to somebody else. You’re guilty for me feeling like crap. You’re guilty for me not having enough money (and that’s only because you already have more than me). You’re guilty because I’m not a successful person (and you, of course, you already are).
When you build your day to day existence based on fear and frustration, what you experience is not life anymore. It’s futility. It’s lack of meaning. It’s an endless string of void actions with void results and a big void of emotions. You’re not experience anything outside the thrill of the”fight or flight” situation and you can’t imagine another place other than the swamp of your daily frustrations.
At the end of the day, when you go to sleep, all you can think of is: “Who am I going to fight with tomorrow? Who is going to give me back the energy and attention that I lack so badly?”. And nothing more, except that. Just a silent, endless emptiness.
The Stimulus And The Answer
So, why do I wrote about fear, frustration and futility? Instead of writing about zen stuff? Because I finally understood that there is an important part for this stuff in our lives. Whether we like it or not. And that we have to process fear, frustration and futility, not hide it under the carpet. Or, even worse, ignore it completely.
Yes, this entire post may look like it’s futile, just a waste of time. “Don’t engage in it: turn your face from it, and it will disappear. Listen to some zen music, read an enlightening blog post and it will pass.”
To be honest, I don’t think so. Not anymore. I think that everything that must be said, must be said. Even if the trigger was an unpleasant situation. The uncovered parts may be ugly, but they are still our parts and we gotta live with them. Yes, the assumptions of this blogger (who I never met in real life) were based on fear and frustration. Yes, I am not the person he depicts and his entire plot was built to create some more futility in his life. Yes, I could have turn my face and move on with my stuff.
But something made me not to. I chose to answer to this stimulus and put the whole story on this blog post. I’m not after a resolution with this. I don’t know if somebody is right or wrong. I don’t even remember from what we started in the first place. And I also don’t want to prove that I’m smarter or nicer than him. And, by all means, I don’t want him to praise me or, even worse, to become friends.
But I want to send a very clear signal that I’m here. And that I know about fear and frustration. And I know about futility too. I just chose to accept them as parts of my life, process them when need arise and then move on. Not stumbling around in a swamp, spitting bitterly at every person that may look like having enough energy to give me until tomorrow.
So, I’m arrogant and I do have a bad image in Romania (at least two people, high profile bloggers, hate my guts). Guys, get used to it.
This is who I am, and nothing will change about that.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.