Some months ago I met up the younger brother of my best friend from high school. He and I have always been on good terms and since it had been over 6 years since we had last saw each other we thought why not. Thus we met up to catch up on our lives at a local coffee shop. After some personal stories exchanged, we got right into how our respective families are doing.
The conversation turned into how some of us lived lives which we feel we were cheated out of it. Strange topic but that’s how I feel about myself. The conversation then turned a little interesting; our teenage years. For him, his parents gave a lot of their attention to their oldest son (my friend) and their daughter (his next sibling down). For him, he didn’t get a lot of attention from his parents. To paraphrase what he said:
I was often left to my own devices. They [his parents] didn’t really care about me when I had a problem. Whenever I had one, they simply stated “Go solve it yourself”.
At first I felt sorry for him. But then as we went along I remembered all the times that I saw him during my high school years, his parents really didn’t pay attention to him much – the “loving” kind. Nothing bad – his parents and him got along well, but the more I thought about, all of the scenes that I saw him with his parents back then and as early as 5 years ago made sense to me.
I went ahead and asked him somewhere along the line: “Did you feel it was a good or bad thing that they didn’t tend to your problems as much as Tarron [my friend]?”
I was surprised by his answer: No
His explanation surprised even me. He stated that in relation to how his parents treated his brother he fared better because he now is able to think for himself instead of relying on others for help. He then went into a huge story of how his parents did everything for his brother – my friend – throughout his youth all the way to medical school. The things that his parents did for my friend shocked even me – things such as filling out his university applications for because they wished for him to get into the college of their choosing. Some other things included calling university officials to make sure his grades were up to par. Going back to his youth, the brother also told me that my friend was subjected to relentless…what I would call “hand-holding” by the parents.
This information was new to me, despite the fact that I had known my friend for over 8 years. However, that’s not the thesis of this post; the thesis is actually what he told me next.
After telling me my friend’s true lifestyle, he stated that it was his upbringing that made him to person who he is now: an independent, self-sufficient, tough-skinned man who has enough to support his girlfriend and whatever he wanted to with his life.
In any case, he is a tough dude. At 25, he’s kept himself out of the house for the past 5 years (his parents live 100 miles away), and is earning about 95% of all the income that he spends, save for the occasional parental monetary gift once every few months. He went on to state that because was left to “swim in the deep end”, he is the man who his is now. Doing this makes you a stronger person since one is forced to act and simply doing things to survive will force you to learn how to.
Do I agree with his assertions? Yes and no.
Forcing someone into a tough situation is a very, very quick way to know whether a person is capable of handling themselves or not. But this is not the case for someone who is older – and has a lot of experiences to unlearn in order to adapt to a new and traumatic situation such as the deep end of a pool – or since we’re mainly martial artists here – a street fight. Lets say for example we throw a couple of kids who have never swam before into the deep of a pool. Given that they relax and are in their body – they will swim to safety. Not well, their forms will probably be horrible, but they’ll survive.
Now take two adults who have never swam before and throw them in. It’s going to be a little harder, but say one manages to pull of a stroke or two. It is my theory that generally speaking that person has had some swimming experience in order to have survived the deep end. To extend that, if someone shows some sort of competence in what is thought to be a new environment, whoever the onlookers are must bring in the fact *that* particular person has had some sort of prior training. The other adult might find it hard because they might have an idea of what swimming is, yet when thrown into the water, their idea gets in the way of actually swimming.
Do I seek this type of “Jumping into the deep end of the pool”? Yes and no. Why? The reasons which I will explore in a later post. Till next time.