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Hello. I am Peter Keating.

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I've been registered here for a little while but never properly introduced myself. Here, I am going to introduce myself in a manner I've never done before: by telling you about myself.

I heard of Ayn Rand's novels when I was young, but only began reading them last year. The first of her novels that I read was "The Fountainhead". The reason I read it is because I enjoyed pretending to be some well-versed intellectual, and because I enjoyed having something to talk about that would make me seem smart because most people haven't read her novels. I then read "Atlas Shrugged". I agreed entirely with the message of these books, I didn't yet see how it applied to me. It wasn't until I began reading "For The New Intellectual" two days ago that it happened. In the section on "The Fountainhead", I reread Howard Roark's speech to Gail Wynand about Peter Keating, king of the second-handers, for the first time since I read the book last Fall. Howard Roark was talking about me.

I am in my mid-20s. I am very intelligent and very knowledgeable, but I am not wise and am often quite hypocritical. I enjoy reading. I enjoy good conversation. I act on impulse most often, and must force myself, against great resistance, to act on reason. I lie often. I work a job I hate to put myself through a degree that I think I'll enjoy doing for the rest of my life, but I'm not completely sure. I'm vain. I'm superficial. I force my personality on people, constantly trying to prove that I am smart. I annoy and drive everyone away because I am so damn pretentious. I'm an engineering student. I feel better about myself when someone finds me physically attractive because of "good looks" than when I actually achieve something through effort. I don't know if that last bit is true because I hardly ever achieve anything because I'm lazy and I procrastinate, and when I do achieve something, I find it far less enjoyable if there is no one there to see it. I get by in life not by cheating or taking credit for other people's effort, but because things have always come easily to me, be they tests of physical or mental strength. An obvious consequence of this last bit is that I operate at nowhere near my potential. A little less obvious is that I'm growing more and more afraid to actually try because I don't want to learn how much of my potential I've killed through inactivity and under-utilization of my mind. It goes without saying that I seek people's approval so that I may validate my worth. As you can imagine, I'm depressed all of the time because of this. I know that the way to stop being this person is to keep in mind the things I have learned from Objectivism, and use all the will power I have to be a moral, productive human being, but I am so unsure of myself that even though I know this is the answer I still want someone to tell me it is the answer and that "I CAN DO IT! ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TRY!"

I do not expect your sympathy and your guidance, but I want them, and it makes me feel pathetic. A small part of me is wanting to be praised for being "brave enough to be honest." But I know that's bullshit.

This is the most honest I've been since I can remember. What the hell am I hoping to accomplish here? I have no idea, but it feels good to be so brutally honest about myself.

I am Peter Keating. (Wasn't that clever?)

Edited by Alexandros
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"Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live...at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take...OUR FREEDOM!"

William Wallace in Braveheart

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I think that you are being dishonest; that is to say, that you made all this up to try to get someone to congratulate you for being honest, while you are in fact lying.
If that's what I wanted, why wouldn't I leave out the part where I said that it would be bullshit to congratulate me for being honest?

It's the truth. I could have opened a blog or a livejournal or any number of different accounts so as to vent my frustration, and I've thought about doing that on many an occasion. But, somehow, it feels better to say this kind of thing to someone who will know exactly what I mean, even if that person couldn't give two rat's asses about me.

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I was kind of hoping to come in and find somebody here found out about Rand after unsuspecting parents actually had a kid and named them "Peter Keating" and years later somebody pointed out the similarity, which got "Peter Keating" to read The Fountainhead and now they were here to grumble about how they hate their name now with who they associate it with. Heh. Given that is not the case, your thread title anyway at least does suck. It really does seem like a disingenuous cry out for pity and fishing for compliments. Too over dramatic to seriously slap a label like that on yourself. You may notice you have similarities to that character, but if you could even seriously notice the similarities and that those are bad you probably couldn't be in as deep as he was, at least not right now. Mostly, I'd just like to offer a little advice which hopefully will be put to good use.

Things to keep in mind:

1) “The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there IS a problem.” You’ll almost surely never be able to fix something if you think it is right how it is already, so being willing to recognize problems opens you up to being able to improve now. Don’t look at it like you’ve hit some dead end of a long dark road, look at it as the first step down the right road.

2) “Practice makes perfect.” Some of the things you’ve described that you find difficult you can become better at by doing them more often. As you do these things that have scared you and find out time and again the world does not come to an end when you do them, you can become less afraid, the things that you’ve been afraid of are things that are good for you and as you get less afraid and better at them you can also start to feel the rewards more of the good you have done and they become self-reinforcing.

3) “Nobody is born perfect.” We’re all born tabla rasa, not already great or “destined for greatness.” Anybody who is great had to make conscious effort to try and they went through a process over time to become so. We are not creatures of destiny, we are beings of “self made soul.” Human beings are beings of volitional consciousness, we CAN make mistakes. The real failure as a human being is not to have made a mistake and done wrong, but to resign yourself to remain in error and stop trying for better.

4) “Every little bit counts” and “old habits die hard.” Don’t get too discouraged when and if you try to make changes in your life and it doesn’t all come out perfect right away even though you know what you should be doing. Any and all progress is still progress and deserves recognition as such, not just getting tossed out of consideration for being not good enough. Yes, the bad may still be there too and it can take a long time to truly root it all out, but recognizing that truth and remembering to keep working on it is good whereas dwelling on it is just needless, useless continual punishment which downplays the significance of your efforts to improve and is just likely to get you to feel overwhelmed and want to give up.

5) “Keep your goals in mind.” Remember Objectivism is here to help people live and live well, to become happy and successful long term and wide range, not to just tell you your not good enough and unfit for life on Earth or something like that. You may see you have been doing bad things to yourself and trying to fool yourself that you could “get away with” it and rightly feel bad realizing your wrongs, but remember this is a way you don’t want to nor do you have to keep feeling forever. You may go through a gradual transitional phase here as you learn how to do better for yourself in thought and action, but ultimately you should come out of things with the ability to be happy living well. You are not doomed to forever have your emotions in conflict with your knowledge. If you do find a conflict between them, that’s a sign of a problem somewhere which it would be good to try to introspect on and look for the root of to understand where the error is and fix it, not some kind of crap you just have to accept as a fact of life.

6) “Don’t be ashamed to seek help.” If you are really, truly struggling still after a while, try finding a good professional to ask about your problems before just giving up.

7) “You’re worth it!” Or you can be. ;) That's right, you too can strip away the filthy slime and muck and taint of evil second-handerdom! :) (For the low, low cost of only swallowing just a small to moderate dose of your own medicine for getting yourself on the wrong side of reality to begin with if you hurry and act now!) You will always be with and have to live with yourself even when nobody else is around. You get no second chances, no way to truly swap identities with anybody else. Make yourself who you would want to be with at all times, who you think would be worth all the effort and time you put into keeping them in existence. Again, people are ends in themselves, have free will, and are beings of self made soul. To state what should be old news to anybody here, it is possible if you just keep trying and keep thinking your rational and independent best. All you can ever have or do is put toward the end of “YOU” - your life and your well being, your staying in existence as long and as well as you can. There is nothing higher. As the highest and ultimate of aims and values you can have, isn’t taking care of and fostering yourself worth whatever it takes for however long it takes?

When I read The Fountainhead I was always very frustrated with Peter Keating because he came so close so many times to recognizing what was wrong with him and turning his life around, but always backed out for whatever reasons again in the end and so never really fixed much of anything about himself. You are not really him, you don’t have to end up like that. Now if you are about to set out on a long and probably gradual journey of self improvement down unfamiliar roads, you may like for a little inspiration here a song I’ve long found encouraging when I’m going down some new places I’m unsure of and maybe am a bit scared about what my future holds: Drive by Incubus

[/advice/pep talk]

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Wow, it's like listening to myself when I'm going on a whiny binge. I'm not going to give advice, because I know how utterly useless it is for someone in your position. I'll just make a couple observations:

1. You are utterly incapable of making an accurate self-assessment. No, seriously. No, this is not me making excuses for you or putting you down. It's just a fact--your view of your self-worth is utterly skewed and completely unreliable. Subconsciously, you know this, so you go to others for help in setting some kind of quasi-rational baseline for yourself. But this doesn't help, because you don't respect most other peoples' judgment and you wind up feeling like, yes, a second-hander. The problem isn't that you're siphoning off other peoples' fuel and consuming it for yourself, the problem is that you have a broken motor. Ultimately, you'll have to fix it yourself, but it is not wrong to accept a tow to get you to a position where you can start fixing it as long as you get that tow from someone you respect who is doing it voluntarily because they think you're worth the effort.

2. Willpower will accomplish precisely nit in your situation. You can only exercise willpower for so long before it runs out, so you will wind up riding this roller coaster of doing things well for a while then becoming exhausted and not doing anything, which makes you angry and depressed and you hate yourself. The only solution I've found to this is to have a minimum you meet every day. What this is differs depending on your situation, but I always set my minimum to be the stuff that I *need* to get done to keep on keepin' on. Get up, shower, get dressed, go to work, make dinner, do the dishes. Once I'm hitting that minimum on a regular basis, I feel immensely more relaxed and also like I'm getting the important stuff done. I also get bored, so I start accomplishing all kinds of other stuff on the side.

Anyway, I'm serious that you've just described what I go through every day, here, so if you want to talk about it feel free to send me a PM or IM me on one of the chat nicks in my profile.

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So let me get this straight. You recognize all these faults, you know why you do what you do and instead of actually doing something to correct your ways you post in here?

Get a grip, stop feeling sorry for yourself and sort your own shit out.

Edited by Capitalism Forever
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Get a grip, stop feeling sorry for yourself and sort your own shit out.

Yeah, just wave your magic wand and everything will be fixed! That ALWAYS works! Why didn't we think of this before?! If only someone had told *me* to get my shit together during the twenty years I've spent battling psychological problems, I'd be fixed now!

Oh, wait.

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All I'll give you is a quote from one of my favorite characters from Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Granny Weatherwax:

"The trouble is, you see, that if you do know Right from Wrong you can't choose Wrong. You just can't do it and live."

It's never easy realizing you're wrong, but the most important part of it is to be completely honest with yourself. You've heard this a million times but something they may have forgotten to tell you is the why:

Because you're going to die.

Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow. But maybe now and maybe tomorrow. What do you want your last day on this earth to be like?

Life is short and wonderful, and ultimately you are cheating yourself out of it by living it in a way that you know is wrong or has deep errors. Will you die still being Peter Keating?

Would you like to die still being Peter Keating?

Death is the ultimate reality and life is the more precious for its rare and finite quality. Think about this, it can be very sobering. Every choice could be your last one, but that's not something to make you sad: what's important is always that it be the right one, not that it be the last.

Edited by kainscalia
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First, mid-twenties = young. So, get to work and set things straight. Look at it this way, if you can turn yourself around from where you are and become what you want to be, this will bring you tremendous pride for having achieved that.

As to lying, don't do it. It's not in your self interest and nobody in their right mind would want anything to do with you if you do.

As to being smart, you may be smart, but I doubt you're Sir Isaac Newton smart. Newton worked hard. There is no substitute for hard work. Just being smart gets you no where if you don't use that potential to acquire knowledge purposefully in a career aim.

All of these things you mention you have it within your power to change. Do it a step at a time, but you're the only one who can write a plan of action to improve your life. I recommend writing down a set of goals and working to achieve each and every one of those goals. You might want to read on Benjamin Franklin and how he improved his life. Again, Franklin was brilliant and he improved himself by setting down certain virtues he wanted to achieve, and he was able to do so with most of them (except for "humility", which is good, because it really isn't a virtue.)

This is all a matter of free will. You are the only one who can change your life, period.

The great thing is the Objectivism provides you with philosophical guidance which should help immensely in the process.

I'm not here trying to placate you in the slightest. I'm just saying what is so.

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Yeah, just wave your magic wand and everything will be fixed! That ALWAYS works! Why didn't we think of this before?! If only someone had told *me* to get my shit together during the twenty years I've spent battling psychological problems, I'd be fixed now!

Oh, wait.

You know what, here's a newsflash for you. Not everything has to do with you. I didn't read a single thing in that post that indicated anything but mental laziness and personal weakness. As a matter of fact the poster himself admitted as much.

So I would encourage you to take your problems and apply them to yourself, not to everyone else as you see fit.

Thanks

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Thales, kainscalia, bluecherry, I've got to say you are each very good at this sort of thing---seriously !

Now if the three of you could feature as a permanent 'Corner' on O.O....

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I don't think your (self)analysis is accurate.

Peter Keating's curse was that Roark helped him throughout his career which gave him success beyond his actual talent, thus saddling him with a load he was unable/unready to bear. This was the cause of his endless unhappiness and disatisfaction with life - NOT those other flaws of character.

So, have you been cribbing off some genius to pass your exams, get your jobs and accolades? I didn't see that in your write-up.

In other words: stop being so hard on yourself.

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You know what, here's a newsflash for you. Not everything has to do with you. I didn't read a single thing in that post that indicated anything but mental laziness and personal weakness. As a matter of fact the poster himself admitted as much.

People are lazy and weak for a reason. It's usually (always?) a bad reason, but telling them to "just do it!" accomplishes nothing. Oh, they might go out and do a couple of things for a short time, but the old bad habits reassert themselves unless you fix the *underlying* problems.

There are a *lot* of approaches that are counterproductive. Sympathy doesn't help. Guilt trips don't help. The more intelligent the person involved, the fewer things that help. Having personal experience with this *class* of difficulties (not this particular issue, but everyone who is messed up emotionally is messed up in a slightly different way), I can say that very likely the only productive thing for other people to do is to say, "yep, you're messed up" and leave you more or less alone.

But hey, if it makes you feel better to sneer at people you know nothing about, knock yourself out.

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People are lazy and weak for a reason. It's usually (always?) a bad reason, but telling them to "just do it!" accomplishes nothing. Oh, they might go out and do a couple of things for a short time, but the old bad habits reassert themselves unless you fix the *underlying* problems.

There are a *lot* of approaches that are counterproductive. Sympathy doesn't help. Guilt trips don't help. The more intelligent the person involved, the fewer things that help. Having personal experience with this *class* of difficulties (not this particular issue, but everyone who is messed up emotionally is messed up in a slightly different way), I can say that very likely the only productive thing for other people to do is to say, "yep, you're messed up" and leave you more or less alone.

But hey, if it makes you feel better to sneer at people you know nothing about, knock yourself out.

Sure, whatever.

But the fact is that I'm not speaking without experience here either. I have made a life out of motivating people, people in a lot worse a lot more stressful situations than you could probably guess at. I've found through my experience that a lot of the ones that complain the loudest and the most publicly are whiny sniveling ingrates that expect everyone to put their heart on their sleeve and moan with them in unison... "Woe is me".

I don't play that game. If you are as ashamed of how you act, as aware of how destructive it is and as disgusted with yourself as the OP claimed to be then the chances are pretty good either you've come for the pity party or you are a full up troll.

But hey if it makes you "feel" better to swallow a strangers story lock stock and crock pot without knowing any more of them than I do then go ahead, knock yourself out.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I can tell you that it's true that few people here will compliment you for being honest and next to none will pity you. They probably won't tell you "all you have to do is try" either. On some intellectual level you must have known that before you came here, so I can only assume you sincerely want to change based on that. That said, here goes. Being the person you want to be (one that is content with yourself and does not seek approval from others) will require taking every belief you have and holding it to the harshest criticism (Ayn Rand has said something similar, and I have found it very true). Base everything on what you know to be true (things that are provable, logical, based on reason). Throw out any inconsistencies in your beliefs. Take that time to really determine what your philosophy is and hold every decision you make in life to those standards. This is very important. Without it, it is easy for things to become chaotic and sad because you are basing your decisions on emotions you've never taken time to examine the source of. Objectivism can help you examine your beliefs, so take time to read Ayn Rand and other objectivist authors (nonfiction books as well) but it cannot save you from yourself. You cannot be consistent with your reality and lie. Lying denies reality. A lot of the personality quirks you mentioned are a result of not being consistent with or fully knowing your beliefs. Philosophy is very important, you will find it is linked to just about everything in life, but few people ever identify this. Being smart is great, but nothing without a moral background to help implement it. Do this first, apply what you've learned to every aspect of your life, and happiness will come. Anything less is a waste of life.

I've been registered here for a little while but never properly introduced myself. Here, I am going to introduce myself in a manner I've never done before: by telling you about myself.

I heard of Ayn Rand's novels when I was young, but only began reading them last year. The first of her novels that I read was "The Fountainhead". The reason I read it is because I enjoyed pretending to be some well-versed intellectual, and because I enjoyed having something to talk about that would make me seem smart because most people haven't read her novels. I then read "Atlas Shrugged". I agreed entirely with the message of these books, I didn't yet see how it applied to me. It wasn't until I began reading "For The New Intellectual" two days ago that it happened. In the section on "The Fountainhead", I reread Howard Roark's speech to Gail Wynand about Peter Keating, king of the second-handers, for the first time since I read the book last Fall. Howard Roark was talking about me.

I am in my mid-20s. I am very intelligent and very knowledgeable, but I am not wise and am often quite hypocritical. I enjoy reading. I enjoy good conversation. I act on impulse most often, and must force myself, against great resistance, to act on reason. I lie often. I work a job I hate to put myself through a degree that I think I'll enjoy doing for the rest of my life, but I'm not completely sure. I'm vain. I'm superficial. I force my personality on people, constantly trying to prove that I am smart. I annoy and drive everyone away because I am so damn pretentious. I'm an engineering student. I feel better about myself when someone finds me physically attractive because of "good looks" than when I actually achieve something through effort. I don't know if that last bit is true because I hardly ever achieve anything because I'm lazy and I procrastinate, and when I do achieve something, I find it far less enjoyable if there is no one there to see it. I get by in life not by cheating or taking credit for other people's effort, but because things have always come easily to me, be they tests of physical or mental strength. An obvious consequence of this last bit is that I operate at nowhere near my potential. A little less obvious is that I'm growing more and more afraid to actually try because I don't want to learn how much of my potential I've killed through inactivity and under-utilization of my mind. It goes without saying that I seek people's approval so that I may validate my worth. As you can imagine, I'm depressed all of the time because of this. I know that the way to stop being this person is to keep in mind the things I have learned from Objectivism, and use all the will power I have to be a moral, productive human being, but I am so unsure of myself that even though I know this is the answer I still want someone to tell me it is the answer and that "I CAN DO IT! ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TRY!"

I do not expect your sympathy and your guidance, but I want them, and it makes me feel pathetic. A small part of me is wanting to be praised for being "brave enough to be honest." But I know that's bullshit.

This is the most honest I've been since I can remember. What the hell am I hoping to accomplish here? I have no idea, but it feels good to be so brutally honest about myself.

I am Peter Keating. (Wasn't that clever?)

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I have some of the same problems you have. I regard myself as intelligent, but flawed. The problem is, of course, that this kind of self judgment leads to a kind of dichotomy between theory and practice. The truth is, there is no dichotomy. You are mediocre. You're just smart enough to figure out your flaws, but not smart enough (yet) to overcome them.

Don't worry about what other people think of you, and that includes other "Objectivists". If the only thing you stand to lose is potential companionship, consider yourself lucky. Be happy because you have a lot of life on Earth ahead of you, but don't be content only with what you have. Pretty much the only advice I can give for your type of personality has to come from within. Find your INNER strength, something you're passionate about. Trying your best won't work if it's not really you that's trying.

I really wish I could tell you that all you have to do is try, but honestly trying is not always good enough. You have to WORK for what you want in life. Self betterment is the very first step and at least you've gotten that far. However, to get further you need to face your fears. Don't come here for a crutch, try spending your time on the internet researching something. If you find you fit in here and earn our respect then good, but this is not a social circle that owes you some level of compassion, and we here all know that. If you want advice, listen carefully and actively to what we have to give, and watch out for those knee-jerk reactions, both of yours and ours, don't offend and don't take offense, and things should go smoothly here.

PS: If there is something about my little speech that catches your eye, feel free to talk to me about it, whether it is good or bad. I am still learning how to motivate people, and the feedback would be very helpful!

Edited by TuringAI
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