It's kind of fascinating to watch yourself change from a metacognitive standpoint. As a kid you are changing all the time but you lack the internal capacity to evaluate your change. People notice you change but you are mostly oblivious to it outside of the acne and awful voice cracking.
But at this point I'm more than aware of how I am changing. I am becoming more insular and my temper is more easily aroused. I have developed a chip on my shoulder that is relatively easy to knock off. Maybe it was always there but now it just comes right off at the slightest provocation.
Growing up as a big kid I had this feeling that I would be blamed for... anything. Over time I became very easy going and laid back. I have hated confrontation and have spent most of my semi conscious life seeking to avoid any kind of disharmony with people. I've always said I'm "easy like Sunday morning" and that is still true for the most part. It's just less true.
I think two things have really set this off. And what is interesting is that it is the combination of the two things that have led to my change; without the two things in tandem I think I would more or less be the old passive and avoidant me.
The first thing was my losing a ton of weight. Once I got down to a manageable weight I noticed a tremendous change in how I started to view the world. The science nerd in me thinks that the hormonal changes, particularly the reduction in estrogen from the loss of a tremendous amount of fat, and the subsequent shift in testosterone dominance, plays a large role in why I see the world differently. I have more energy. My morning blood flow is on point. My willingness to take risks and push through my comfort zone is higher than it ever was. There is something really interesting about being in the best shape of your life in your 40s that someone who was a teenage athlete can't experience; I am peaking far later than them. And while my peak is probably much lower than their peak mine will last longer because of the fact that it is happening later.
Whatever it is that is responsible at the physiological level for my change I think it forced me to re-evaluate the world in lots of ways. My overall patience with people who complained decreased. Between focusing on my kid and the changes from the weightloss my emotional bandwidth shrank. I wouldn't take on the role of listening to people's problems for hours on end anymore. I was willing to listen but I began to demand some kind of accountability from people, even if it was just internally. I don't mean to say that I started yelling at people asking "what are you doing to improve your life?" But I did ask myself a lot more "ok... you're telling me about this problem again... what have you tried to do since we last spoke about it to improve it?"was
The second thing that happened the confluence of Trump and Covid. Both of those events pushed me to retreat from the world. I wasn't a fan of Trump; I think he's an incompetent asshole. But I was far less of a fan of the response his presidency made in people I care about. The diatribes on social media and the constant political punditry. I just couldn't. Then when covid shut down the world I just decided "ok... focus on your family, your community and chasing your own excellence".
I think those two events intertwined have helped me become a real curmudgeon. It is kind of fascinating to watch my responses to people and ask myself, while it is happening, "is this really you?".
I still despise confrontation. I hate the feeling that someone will dislike me after we argue. Almsot every cell in my body wants to go to the person I fought with afterwards and apologize and explain and try to get that person to forgive me so that we can have some kind of a relationship. But luckily that part of me is shrinking with each argument.
There is something so incredibly freeing about standing your ground and saying "here is the line that I will not let anyone cross". The greatest thing about it is that for most people that is a fight you only need to have once or twice before they decide that it isn't a fight worth having again. If I were to apologize and explain then the fights would likely resume and people think "ok he's a pushover, next time I just need to come at this from a different angle".
But I know that this change isn't all good. My patience with my family is short. I am becoming the curmudgeon's in my family. Like my dad and uncle I am quick to get annoyed and quick to raise my voice.
I think I am massively course correcting for decades of underreacting to disrespect. Fundamentally that is the thing that sets me off. I used to put up with so much disrespect that now I see red when I encounter any disrespect; overt or passive. I don't want to go so far as to say I have PTSD but I really do get incredibly pissed when I feel someone has disrespected me.
Everytime I feel disrespected I feel like someone has punched me. I don't think I've ever punched someone first but man will I punch back if someone hits me. Basically that's what has happened; I've become someone who reacts to disrespect like it is time for a fist fight and the disrespect is like a jab; the light punch your opponent uses to get a read of you. Jabs are useful that way; you can keep your distance, figure out just how far you need to reach to hit them. Jabs are also good for surprising your opponent. There's a reason that the jab is a boxer's most important punch; you can throw them repeatedly with little energy and they can wear your opponent down. Disrespect is more or less a jab in disguise.
The passive agressive mom at the PTA meeting where I am the co-president threw a jab when she told the meeting that she felt we weren't attempting to be inclusive enough because she wasn't aware of the meetings. The word "inclusive" has become, intentionally or not, a weapon. It wasn't an accident that she used that word she was trying to scare us into going with what she wanted lest we be branded as being "uninclusive", which is a stepping stone to worse implications. I told her that I was offended that she would suggest that I would be anything less than completely inclusive and then I told her to not interrupt me when she attempted to back down and apologize. She never attempted to hijack the meeting again.
My wife tells me that I need to tone it down. She's right. I need to figure out how to get the pendulum to find a happy medium. I don't want to be the old me. But I also don't want to be this guy. It is hard to find the joy in the world when I feel that I need to be on the look out for people trying to push me down. I'm sure that there is a happy medium somewhere I just need to find it. I would like to lock up that anger but let it out at half power when I need it. I suspect that of all the work I can do for myself in the next year, finding that happy medium will have the best affect on my life.