Why You Are a Walking Contradiction

I’ve discovered that I am full of contradictions.

I view myself as a social person. I’ve got more Facebook friends than anyone I’ve ever met. And yet, in most situations (class, the workplace, social gatherings) I’m one of the quietest people there, choosing to mostly watch and listen to others.

If you looked at my planner or laptop, you’d feel like there wasn’t a more organized person out there. I write down everything. And yet if you looked at my drawer of clothes, my kitchen, or my bathroom, you’d think otherwise.

I believe that I’m a brave person. I’ve gone on countless road trips, tried out new things, and helped to start companies. And yet, I don’t feel like I’ve ever taken a big risk. I’m secretly afraid to swing for the fences or to do something that would be viewed as unsuccessful or “un-Travis.” I’ve backed out of several big opportunities.

I’ve always prided myself on being spontaneous. I’m always ready to head off to a party or event or trip at the drop of a hat. And yet, I’ve found that I’ll only do this if I’ve already set aside the time to be spontaneous.

Most people would say I’m more focused and hard-working than anyone when I rattle off the list of projects that I’m working on. I push myself every day to accomplish and to progress as much as possible. And yet, in my natural state, and for several hours of the day, I’m a lazy facebooker. I really have to push myself to focus on a project for very long.

It’s as if every trait in myself that I’ve ever valued as a strength is also my biggest weakness. And it’s not just me. Holly is probably the kindest, yet most stubbornly sassy girl I’ve met. She’s fearless about the big things, but scared of the silliest tiny things out there. My brother Braden comes off as very down to business and won’t do “fun” things unless he really sees a reason. And yet, he’s one of the funniest people I know, and when you step back you realize that he does “fun” things all the time.

Here are my theories as to what’s going on:

1. Overcompensation- Subconsciously or consciously people recognize a weakness they have (my lack of long-term focus) and then do all they can to beat it with the antithesis of that trait (getting organized and pushing myself to be successful). In the end the person is left as a sort of Jekyll/Hyde with both characteristics showing through at different times.

2. Classification and Expectation- I think one reason that it’s easy to see the contradictions in other people is that we’re very quick to classify and label someone into a specific, Disney-like trait (In Disney, people are usually “good” or “evil” and rarely in between). People we know are “shy” or “smart” or “talkative” or whatever. When they display the opposite of that trait (like my brother Braden being funny), it seems exceptional to us that they aren’t being their classified, “typical” self. We tend to place ourselves into these categories as well (like me being social), and “surprise” ourselves when we do something (like me being quiet), even if we actually do that something all the time.

3. Opposites aren’t that opposite- What is the opposite of Day? Night, right? Well, sort of. They’re actually quite similar. They both describe the state of the world depending on the time. They both are dependent on the sun. They always come right after each other. Not that “opposite” actually. I think that each person tends to inadvertently focus on a certain trait-spectrum. For me, the trait spectrums most prominent in my life seem to be lack of focus/diligence, organized/scattered, brave/scared, and spontaneous/planned. Therefore, I have lots of both halves of the spectrum. Alternatively, I don’t really have strong pieces of either parts of the spectrum of traits like nobility/cowardliness, genius/ditzy, morally rebellious/morally driven, etc.

Life is better when you’re best friends with your self. Life is more interesting when you’re also your biggest enemy!

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