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How To Use People and Have Them Love You For It, Or: Don’t Fight Your Parents

“…we may be the sons of whomsoever we will. Households there are of noblest intellects; choose the one into which you wish to be adopted; you will inherit not merely their name, but even their property…” ~ Seneca

A child doesn’t compare himself to his parents. He’s glad to leech off and learn from them. Learn from your sempais — the people who’ve played the game deeper and/or longer than you have so far. Don’t compare, don’t despair.

No child ever looks at his parents and goes: “Oh, expletive! They can walk and talk and sing and make money and I can’t and I suck, why do I even bother try?”. Even in the most competitive, “Type A” family, siblings may compete with each other but no one seriously competes with their parents.

So I play a lot of frisbee and ice hockey with people who are better than me. I’m almost always the bottom of the pack in terms of speed and skill. Once in a while though, I play pick-up with kids who haven’t had as much experience as me and they think I’m amazing. They think I’m poetry in motion. They think I’m the Lord of the Dance.

And I love the adulation. You think I’m an attention whore now? Thou hast yet to see whoredom.

But you know what? It’s all relative. I’m no prodigy, nor do I suck. Ultimately, there are no prodigies; there are no sucky people. Our results are merely a near-perfect reflection of the frequency and absolute quantity of our practice and maintenance activities. That’s all the 10k hours idea boils down to. Output is directly proportional to input. Painfully simple stuff.

In fact, as Scott Adams once suggested, instead of playing games, 90-some-percent of the time, we could merely exchange slips of paper with our practice stats on them and call it a day:

“I’ve spent a ridiculous number of hours playing pool, mostly as a kid. I’m not proud of that fact. Almost any other activity would have been more useful. As a result of my wasted youth, years later I can beat 99% of the public at eight-ball. But I can’t enjoy that sort of so-called victory. It doesn’t feel like “winning” anything.

It feels as meaningful as if my opponent and I had kept logs of the hours we each had spent playing pool over our lifetimes and simply compared. It feels redundant to play the actual games.”

But playing is fun, so we play.

Be grateful for your sempais. Be grateful for people whose skill level is higher than yours. That’s right, they’re not better than you. Their skill level is higher than your skill level. Their skill level is not who they are and your skill level is not who you are. They are and you are.

Your sempais are your parents in a very literal sense. They’ve been through more of life, i.e more of the microcosm of life that is your chosen sport (physical or intellectual) than you have so far, and have much to teach you, even — mostly? — by mere exposure. We call our schools our nourishing mothers — our alma maters — when really schools are nothing of the such. If anything at school nourishes at all, it’s not the institution: it’s the people and ideas you’re exposed to while there.

Don’t fight your “parents”. Use them. Benefit from them. Call it “Opportunistic Confucianism” 😀 . Absorb some of what they say. Absorb even more of what they do. Don’t compare. Don’t despair. Eventually, you get to move out of the “house” and say, perhaps justifiably, that it was all you. And it was all you, in a way, because good parents can take you far, but it takes a “good” kid — a smart kid — to know how to let them, to be alert enough to use all that parental goodwill.

Your heroes are your parents. Enjoy living in their “house” and enjoy moving out 🙂 .

Let me be frank. I am a user. I use the crap out of parents, biological or otherwise; I consider them all “mine”. Why? Because they want to be “used”. Altruistic people and hyper-competitive people are on the same page in terms of opposing this idea, in that they quite mistakenly assume that all life is a zero-sum game, that your gain must come at someone else’s loss. It never occurs to them that some people like parenting in certain ways. Some people like offering rides, some people like feeding you, some people like offering abstract SRS advice.

Personal example: I don’t like interpreting for people and I basically don’t, even for good friends; I find it tiresome. I refuse. But I do enjoy doing stuff like introducing people to SRS and how to use it. It’s a give-fish versus teach-to-fish thing. When it comes to teaching fishing, I wish someone would use me 😉 .

Take your spoon out of your bowl of pride flakes and you’ll find a world filled with “parents” able and eager to “raise” you. They’ll correct your mistakes; they’ll show you techniques; they’ll supply you with gear; they’ll even do stuff for you outright. And they’ll enjoy doing it because every parent enjoys a grateful, receptive kid — the act of rearing such a child is its own reward.

Strange sentiments for a childless man who refuses to follow orders and instructions…
Look at me exhorting the virtues of the elders and seniors. Clearly, I’ve been living in East Asia too long 😉 …

  5 comments for “How To Use People and Have Them Love You For It, Or: Don’t Fight Your Parents

  1. Erik
    April 21, 2013 at 04:03

    Yeah I get negative thoughts like that a lot. When I hear that someone knows more than me at the subject I’m focusing on I end up hating the person and even more-so myself. I’ve always known its a bad attitude to have but its a basic feeling that’s popped up numerous times during my Japanese studying. “Oh look that guy can read novels easy and I’m having to look up words in my manga with furigana, guess I should just give up I’ll never be like that guy”. I’ve had those thoughts a lot and its always had a negative effect on my progress…and its just not fun. I had been just ignoring other learners (no matter what level) to try to get rid of this problem but I guess the whole parent idea does have its merits.

  2. 魔法少女☆かなたん
    April 22, 2013 at 09:45

    Oh, I’m using you alright. Just costing you money in bandwidth without buying your products … er, ahem … I mean, taking in Khatz-sempai’s little bits of helpful advice.

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