… of Old Minds and Old Mindsets

We’re on a bit of a roll and while the roll may be a downhill one, it’s a roll and we should probably continue with it. If we were playing word association and you were to say ‘Old’, my initial response will always be ‘Me’. Sure, this is a self deprecating thing, but it’s also how I feel, and how I’ve always felt. I remember when I was in year three, my teacher commenting to my parents that I seemed to have an old outlook on life. I don’t think she even used the word ‘mature’. Years later I would refer to my adolescence as a ‘mid-life crisis’ as I was convinced I wouldn’t live passed my mid twenties. Growing pains felt like my body failing. The start of a downward spiral. As a pre-teen I was a fairly sporty kid. After school and weekends would be spent playing soccer, and then tee-ball. I wasn’t very good at either of them, but I remember enjoying the activity. As soon as the clock ticked over to 12 years old, that stopped.

This all comes across as being negative, but I don’t see it that way. It’s just how I’ve always felt. And for the record I don’t really mind. My internal voice has always felt old, and I’ve always found myself questioning what’s going on around me. From a very early age I was a ‘why?’ or ‘how come…?’ kid. As I became older this turned into what I would call a healthy cynicism, but often came across as just plain negativity.

What I find funny now is that, amongst my team at work and my friends, I often find myself trying to be the voice of positivity. When the bad news comes in, I’ll try and look for the good. And even if there’s very little good, I try and become the “Well, we might as well give it a shot” guy. I’m sure this can be annoying sometimes – I know, because I used to be the guy sitting in the corner, rolling his eyes at the “Well, we might as well give it a shot” guy. At a point that I’m still unable to pin down [2], my brain just snapped and decided it’d had enough of negativity. It was as if I’d taken on so much of it, that I just couldn’t take any more. I even started to react really badly to people who insisted on talking only in negatives. I could see my old self in them, and I just didn’t want to be around that any more. It was like I became a Born Again Hippie.

I still carry a fairly hefty dose of cynicism with me, and I like to think I question things when it’s important to, but I don’t like getting bogged down in the negative. It’s just so draining for me. I’ll do my best to try and pull people out of their slumps when they’re in them, but there’s a line between cheering someone up and trying to change their mindset [3]. I get that moving past the negative is a really hard thing to do, but it’s not something someone can do for you, it’s something you have to decide to do for yourself.

[1] My Mum works with people studying to be primary teachers, and over the last couple of years she ran into the same teacher, who asked after me. It’s an odd feeling to still be in the mind of someone so many years later.

[2] I’m positive it happened before I was on the drugs designed to make these sorts of things go away, but I don’t remember when exactly it was. Maybe it just something that came with becoming older?

[3] While we’re here, cheering people up does not mean using phrases such as “Chin up”, “Why so glum?”, “It could be worse” or any sort of comparison anyone else’s problems. This approach does not, and will not ever help.


Author: Mark Ampersand

Budding writer, connoisseur of fine popular culture and Batman fan.

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