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pieman

How do you interact with "normal" people in everyday life?

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Alex,

You've read from our panel of experts. And I've been voted down for reasons of some form maligning an author. I knew you could handle your our affairs form the tone of your letter. For a fact, it is a world of mediocrity and hyperbole,and I, for one, believe you have the right attitude about choosing the company you keep. After a time, you'll find the right people, and they'll stay in contact with you through the years. For additional intellectual stimulation, send another controversial post to the OO forum. We can always use a little stimulation.

 

And I'll promise to only make book reviews when it is related to the central theme of the initial post.

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My problem isn't that I don't talk to people or I'm antisocial and I don't know how to get to know people, it's that I'm one of the more popular people in my class and it seems very empty. I have a lot of friends that I talk about sports with or just do nothing with, but I don't enjoy having to spend 7 hours a day with them. My problem is that I'm stuck at school learning things I already know with people that aren't exactly intellectually stimulating. There are definitely those who are enjoyable to be around and great people, but I don't get to see them often with school and preparations for the exchange. I'm asking about what you guys do at work or school when the people you are around 30-40 hours a week don't provide you with anything but small talk. I can't really quit school (I turned 16 last week), but I can't imagine spending another year there. Knowing I and a few others are light-years ahead of the rest of the class but still having to sit through useless lectures all day isn't a good feeling.

I'll also take a look at the book, but it doesn't seem like it fits my situation.

 

I'll do my best to try to describe what I have done.

 

First and foremost, your carreer is the most important thing in the world. Be ruthless about it. If you already know what's being taught at school you should haul your ass to the library and get at least 20 books on your favorite subjects. Even better, check out the course litterature for college courses you're planning to take.

Make it a point to alway venture into the unknown. Always learn something new and always take on problems you don't know how to solve.

 

When you set high standards for yourself and always strive for excellence, people will notice. Some will not like it. They'll feel threatened and see you as being arrogant. The good ones will be attracted to your drive and passion, and even if they don't understand you they'll support you.

 

Also, you can sell yourself on more than just a personality level. For example, I love to banter, argue, tease and flirt. I do it all the time. People love me for it. It's fun. But, if that's all you have to offer you just become an empty shell.

 

I've done all that at my job. I started at the bottom, just to get a foot in. I saw the opportunity with taking on tasks that were so far above my pay grade it wasn't even funny. Proved to my boss that I could handle it. Got promoted, and learned that I absolutley love solving legal problems and that i'm exceptionally good at it. Read everything I could find in the library, started taking courses at the University. Got promoted again. And, thanks to my employer got admitted to law school. Now I even have some senior lawyers asking for my input at work...

 

There are some who have found that offensive and think that i'm an arrogant prick, which is funny considering i'm a very friendly person. I've made a lot of friends though. Most of them don't really get what drives me, but they're good.

 

With such people I just try to have as much fun as possible. Banter, argue, tease and flirt. We can go out and party like rock stars or take a road trip through Europe. They're not intellectuals though, even if we can have some more interesting conversations.

 

Aside from just having fun I always share my passion for different things. I can talk art, movies, litterature or whatnot. Or share my excitement over some legal matter, which usually just makes people smile and shake their heads.

 

That way I also met one of my best friends. She came in as a new recruit to our team, and she immediatley proved herself to be very intelligent and driven. We're fighting like siblings over the most difficult cases we can get our hands on, arguing over legal matters or having more philosophical discussions We share the same profound excitement over what we do. Friends like that are hard to come by, but they're worth more than everyone else combined.

 

You will find that most people are not like you. It can be an empty and lonely feeling at times. Do the best of the situation. They may not be able to provide you with what you desire the most, but that should not stop you from having fun. Try to direct the conversations towards things you like.Or the interactions towards how you want them to be. Also try to take some interest in others, see what's beneath the surface. Promote the good you see in them.

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My problem is that I'm stuck at school learning things I already know with people that aren't exactly intellectually stimulating. There are definitely those who are enjoyable to be around and great people, but I don't get to see them often with school and preparations for the exchange.

  1. If you do know anyone who is intellectually stimulating (and of course enjoyable to be around) then make the most of them.  A single person can be of incalculable benefit to your own pursuits, if they are the right type of person.
  2. If you are light-years ahead of your peers and your curriculum then fly through the tedium, ace your classes and spend the remaining time on your own pursuits.  There is always more to learn.

I'm asking about what you guys do at work or school when the people you are around 30-40 hours a week don't provide you with anything but small talk.

I do not tolerate small talk.

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I'll do my best to try to describe what I have done.

 

First and foremost, your carreer is the most important thing in the world. Be ruthless about it. If you already know what's being taught at school you should haul your ass to the library and get at least 20 books on your favorite subjects. Even better, check out the course litterature for college courses you're planning to take.

Make it a point to alway venture into the unknown. Always learn something new and always take on problems you don't know how to solve.

 

When you set high standards for yourself and always strive for excellence, people will notice. Some will not like it. They'll feel threatened and see you as being arrogant. The good ones will be attracted to your drive and passion, and even if they don't understand you they'll support you.

 

Also, you can sell yourself on more than just a personality level. For example, I love to banter, argue, tease and flirt. I do it all the time. People love me for it. It's fun. But, if that's all you have to offer you just become an empty shell.

 

I've done all that at my job. I started at the bottom, just to get a foot in. I saw the opportunity with taking on tasks that were so far above my pay grade it wasn't even funny. Proved to my boss that I could handle it. Got promoted, and learned that I absolutley love solving legal problems and that i'm exceptionally good at it. Read everything I could find in the library, started taking courses at the University. Got promoted again. And, thanks to my employer got admitted to law school. Now I even have some senior lawyers asking for my input at work...

 

There are some who have found that offensive and think that i'm an arrogant prick, which is funny considering i'm a very friendly person. I've made a lot of friends though. Most of them don't really get what drives me, but they're good.

 

With such people I just try to have as much fun as possible. Banter, argue, tease and flirt. We can go out and party like rock stars or take a road trip through Europe. They're not intellectuals though, even if we can have some more interesting conversations.

 

Aside from just having fun I always share my passion for different things. I can talk art, movies, litterature or whatnot. Or share my excitement over some legal matter, which usually just makes people smile and shake their heads.

 

That way I also met one of my best friends. She came in as a new recruit to our team, and she immediatley proved herself to be very intelligent and driven. We're fighting like siblings over the most difficult cases we can get our hands on, arguing over legal matters or having more philosophical discussions We share the same profound excitement over what we do. Friends like that are hard to come by, but they're worth more than everyone else combined.

 

You will find that most people are not like you. It can be an empty and lonely feeling at times. Do the best of the situation. They may not be able to provide you with what you desire the most, but that should not stop you from having fun. Try to direct the conversations towards things you like.Or the interactions towards how you want them to be. Also try to take some interest in others, see what's beneath the surface. Promote the good you see in them.

I want to stress: "Promote the good you see in them" (versus seeing them as "just a swarm of Keatings"). Excellent post overall.

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The best, most beneficial, way that I've found to interact with "normal" people, is to first realize that I, and you as well, am also a "normal" person (insofar as "normal" is even a valid concept, which I hesitate to believe).

 

When I first got into Objectivism, also in high school, I had this whole ridiculous phase where I saw everyone around me as a "Keating" and a few, select people as actually rising above the rest. This is a stupid viewpoint. Everyone around you is not a "Keating," you just don't know the people around you, so you assume. Almost everyone I've ever met has personal interests, goals, ambitions, things and people they care about. Yeah, some select few people truly are hopeless losers who will only bring you down. Learning to avoid those people isn't an Objectivist task - it's a people task, because everyone has to avoid that kind of person. But most people aren't that kind of person.

 

But sometimes we get into the habit of tribal thinking. Everyone who isn't an Objectivist, or who doesn't strictly adhere to the tenets of Objectivism, is a lesser person, or at least you're a greater person for doing so. It's the same kind of thinking that leads to religious extremism, and it's the same kind of thinking that causes people looking at some Objectivists to pronounce that they are dogmatists or cultists: that inside-vs-outside sort of attitude, where you're somehow more special than people who don't believe, is the exact kind of thing that causes people to believe Objectivism is a cult. You are no more a "true" individual (as the first responder would have you believe) than anyone else is - this isn't to say that you aren't an individual, but rather that everyone is.

 

If you have trouble conversing with people because of your beliefs... well, than either the problem is your beliefs (which, seeing as there are plenty of Objectivists who are capable of living normal social lives, I hesitate to believe) or the problem is your social skills. Either way, the solution is simple: whatever problems you have with other people based on your beliefs, get past them. Until someone truly slights you, you have no reason to think less of them by default. Try to get to know people, discover their interests and their ambitions instead of simply assuming that they are "Keatings". Be a good person, and discover the good in other people. Share your interests with other people, and discover people who care about what you care about - or discover new things to care about by learning about other people's interests.

 

Ayn Rand's fiction, while brilliant, did not portray a world that reflected the real world. Its limited cast of characters were almost always on one side or another: die-hard Objectivist ideals (with resumes that most of us could only aspire to) or clear cut "moochers" and "looters". There were a few exceptions, but Rand's fiction encouraged - perhaps not intentionally - the view that the majority of people are simply mindless drones. It's an easy belief to fall into when you're a teenager and you haven't developed that sense of perspective that allows you to be aware that, indeed, everyone around you thinks, everyone around you goes through hardships, everyone around you has goals and loves and passions, and everyone around you sometimes, also, feels left out.

 

 

 

As for the problem of not enjoying school itself, take everyone else's advice: find a subject you enjoy, and learn it yourself. I did that in high school, and I've continued doing it in college, even when I didn't need to. 

Edited by Iudicious

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You have to develop social skills to "deal" with people.  If you display anti social behaviour, this can just make your existence difficult.  Be friendly, pretend to have an interest in others, and protect your privacy and remember to pursue your own interests.  Don't get drawn into all the useless club garbage that goes on in high school.  Study hard and focus on your grades so you will have more opportunities when high school ends.  It may seem like you'll be there for a long time, but time flies.

 

I hope this advice is useful to you.

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