Wednesday, September 20, 2006


According to familial lore, I have an uncle who dropped out of high school because he was angry with the principal about something and wanted to show him. It's one of those Salient Anecdotes that sits at-the-ready in my brain for application to analogous situations: "This is like when Uncle [Name] dropped out of high school to teach the principal a lesson, thereby possibly affecting the whole rest of Uncle [Name]'s life and, in the most wildly consequential scenario, bothering the principal for the better part of an hour."

I continue to be surprised at how often I'm reminded of it, especially in hearing people contemplate quitting something. Fantasies about the remorseful reactions of others are never good grounds for any personal life decision, from suicide all the way down to canceling magazine subscriptions.


Anonymous said...

I often use a frequent thought process, but it's usually "I'll show them -- they'll be sorry they rejected me/passed me over/ didn't recognize my brilliance." They, of course, couldn't care less about me, but it can make me want to work harder, rather than give up or quit. So, it also can be used to spur positive action. Even if these people never do recognize my brilliance.

Sarahliz said...

In such situations I always think of the Rickie Lee Jones song Juke Box Fury which begins:

Polly and I went to the circus
Polly got hit with a rolling pin
We got even with the circus
We bought tickets but we didn't go in.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, not saying what you think just because you're afraid of losing opportunities is giving an excuse for more powerful people to abuse their power. So sometimes it's worth the risk to your career, since you may get away with it. That's what being brave/ fighting injustice means.