Kodak’s Philosophy: Building Ideology
Everyone who has ever felt like their life wasn’t on par with where they should be, please raise your hand as high as it can go. Everyone body’s hands better be raised to the sky.
So this isn’t an odd feeling to have. In general we’ve all felt lost at one point or another. We don’t like feeling like we’ve wasted our lives on something that we don’t actually value that much or that we’ve been wrong about something all along, and now have to adapt to the correct thing. It makes us feel incredibly stupid and inferior to those who seem to have a better way of getting through life. This is one of those “the grass is greener on the other side” moments.
So I’ve been really sheltered for most of my life. I live in a pretty urban place, but I still live in “the good part” of that place. I have well educated upper middle class parents who have already long outlived their youth. I wasn’t spoiled rotten since I have two older brothers, but I still got the princess treatment in a way. My brothers were always the guinea pigs for my mom and dad’s parenting techniques, and because of the significant gap in age between them and me, I usually got the better half of it. Technology which they had to work for and wait forever to get, I got without much effort and at a younger age. Discipline was less harsh. Responsibilities were fewer. There’s even this sense that if anything were ever to go wrong, my parents would look to my brothers long before they would even consider it to be my doing. I am their princess, their youngest, their most timid, and their only daughter.
As this princess image was cast upon me, I was protected, like I was the heir to some dynasty. I didn’t get to do some of the more “risky” things that my peers got to do. There was a lot more opposition to let me go out to social events than there had been for my brothers. I felt like they didn’t want me to break, like I was too fragile to go out and risk being scratched. From this, and many a Disney movie, I birthed my ideology.
I’ve always had the ideology that if you did good things that they would come back to you. You weren’t mean just for the hell of it, you did good deeds, you told the truth, and you tried your hardest. I had a good girl complex. Surely, someone so honorable would be rewarded. When you’re five years old, it works. Of course it works. They are trying to teach you morals right alongside words and arithmetic in kindergarten. Of course you get rewarded and praised to reinforce those teachings. But as you get older, the praise comes much less often. These morals are supposed to be engrained and second nature to us now that we’ve matured, and we should do them regardless of someone putting a gold star on our forehead or not. However, it seems as though everyone slowly lets go of these morals. You start telling white lies, then big lies to keep out of trouble. You tease a kid that you can’t stand for one reason or another. You do half-assed work on your homework in high school but still complain about your teacher not giving you the grade you want.
We forget our morals, or at least, become selective when we use our morals. What is happening here? Are we becoming bad people because we aren’t following the rules that were laid out for us when we were five? No. We are making our own rules, just the way it’s supposed to be.
You see as humans, we naturally have a sense of right and wrong. It’s connected to our abilities to gauge other people’s reactions to things we do and say. After a while we have some things said and done to us that make us react certain ways. Happy, sad, furious, jealous, confused, whatever emotion you can think of. Interacting with people we find a way to start creating our own moral code. I won’t eat someone else’s chips because I would be mad myself if someone did that to me. I’m not going to flirt with that girl I know my friend likes, because he’ll feel like kicking my ass, just like how I would. Or more complex, I don’t want to kill this person because I wouldn’t want anyone to murder me or anyone else I care about. It’s the simple concept of treating people how you would like to be treated. But then we create exceptions. You will flirt with that girl, because the kid in your class who won’t shut the fuck up for more than two seconds likes her, and you don’t really give a shit about hurting his feelings. People who you deem bad or deserving of death, like rapists and murderers, you would quickly condemn to death. Exceptions come into play when we start to realize that other people are making exceptions. So, why are people making an exception to a rule that should work if everyone follows it?
Well, simply because the rules keep us from living. We might avoid stepping on other people’s toes, but we don’t always satisfy ourselves. We’re sitting here, practicing our manners, and waiting on this promise of a reward for our spread of good karma. For some, the compensation comes quickly. For others, it’s a long wait that sometimes never ends with the reward. We come to realize that there is no actual guarantee that following these rules will bring us the things, people, and feelings that we desire. The exceptions come into play when we feel like it’s less worth being cordial and honorable, because we likely aren’t going to get our due, and then we’ve just wasted all this energy.
Where we start getting into the “good” and the “bad” people comes with how many exceptions you’re willing to make. “Good” people make few exceptions, trying to be as moral as possible, whereas “bad” people are people who have a huge list of exceptions to look out for number one. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how many or how few exceptions you make in my book. It’s all about why you made the exception, the actual back story behind your decision. That’s where I see your character and what values you care about most. Maybe you value some things that I don’t care about. It’s whatever, because at least you have your personality, you’re unique understanding of what your outlook on life is. No one can replicate that or take it away from you.
I need you to understand that it’s not about the big events in your life that create this moral building. Like I said in the beginning, I am extremely sheltered. I was never abused, mentally or physically. I never broke a bone in my body. I never had a real near-death experience. I’ve never been suicidal, or had an eating disorder, or really harshly bullied. I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, never had anyone in my immediate family die, never experienced poverty, hunger, homelessness, or abandonment. I am almost comically unaffected. All I have to show of trauma is unpleasant memories of chastisement and some scars from fleeting careless incidents. Some would say I’m lucky, and trust me, I am so grateful for the upbringing I have.
However I don’t like the fact that I haven’t experienced that much. I think even at a young age, I realized the physical and mental boxes I was being put in by my family, friends, teachers, and peers. I was not going to grow up to be who I am today. I wasn’t going to be the girl who likes rap, likes flirting with boys, wears short dresses just as much as jeans and T-shirts, watches anime, talks about sex freely, and cuddles up with a book for hours on the weekends. That is some weird mash up of who she was supposed to be and who people tried to keep her from being. The fact is, as soon as I saw the boxes closing in on me trying to limit who I could be, I started building a grappling hook to scale up the side of them. I dug up all types of media, anything I was curious about, or heard someone talk about. There are things I’ve been into that I still love, things I tried for a while then left behind, and things I still wonder about doing again. I did social experiments in my head with my peers and found out things about human behavior. I became perspective and manipulative. I was still timid, and shy, and nerdy, and I still didn’t understand or approve of a lot that I had been trained to not like, but I was reaching out to the world around me to not stay the girl they were trying to mold. Somewhere in my mind, I was being told that I needed to start making exceptions in life before I wasn’t really living.
My younger-self somehow had the intuition to question my ideology, just like everyone else’s in this world does. Some people just have more means to test and explore than others at a young age. There were times when I thought I had the answer and would stop changing, and then I would encounter someone who seemed like they were having an even better time than me. There was always someone who had a darker perspective on life, more religious, more adventures, more cautious. Which one was the one I should be emulating? You see that word? Emulating. Even with my progress to try to fix my ideology to something I actually agreed with, I was still trying to find a premade list of rules to follow, rather than construct my own list.
The issue with ideology and manners and exceptions isn’t finding and following a set that is universal for everyone. It’s not about trying to make your issues as dark as others. It’s not about getting a perfect life. Your ideology is going to reflect your personality that you unlock as you expose yourself to the world. If you feel like you’re stuck within an ideology you didn’t choose yourself, you need to get out of this mental or physical box you’ve been put in, scale the fuck up that wall with your awesome ass grappling hook made out of your experiences, and find what you really value.
That’s just my outlook on it all at the moment.