For the first half of my life I was not a good person. I was selfish and sarcastic bordering on hostile. While I was able to force myself to change when I was around 16, the first 15 years aren't something I am very proud of. This past year I have started to connect all the dots that led me through that process. I can pinpoint the moments when I hardened my heart. I can remember the exact trigger that got me to stop giving a damn about other people. I also remember the series of events and unhappiness that led me to change. I know the moment when I began to value others more than I valued myself.
Being equal parts jock and scholar really put me into some odd positions socially. In sports I was taught to value people for how good they were at sports. In academia I was taught to value people for how good they were at academics. Very few people were good at both. Each group tended to be snobby in their own way. I struggled to relate to others. Being a brainwashed "do it because it's cool" lemming routine wasn't in my blood. Being such an elitist that you don't even have a sense of humor also wasn't a path I cared to travel down. Internally this was a complicated struggle.
In sports I was always pushed and driven to be the best and achievement was pretty straight forward. In academics I was always at or near the top but my adopted parents went out of their way to convince me that I was just a bit above average. When I think about what in my upbringing messed me up the most socially, I would have to say it was the latter of those. In many ways I'm extremely glad that I wasn't raised to feel like I was overly special and to look down on the rest of the world. There were plenty of kids in the gifted program or friends of friends that were home schooled that managed to carry themselves with that air of douchebaggery that tends to rub most of the world the wrong way.
I never really understood why they acted so damn superior. I honestly thought they were pretty stupid and if I was only just above average, then they definitely weren't anything special. This probably comes through in my rants, but I have a guilty pleasure for knocking arrogant people down from their cloud. It's not an attractive trait of mine but I struggle to resist its calling. I clearly remember an example from a friend's birthday party in elementary school (9-10 years old I think). He invited a home schooled friend over and that kid basically treated us all like we were idiots because we went to public school and he was reading at a whatever grade level and blah blah blah. He rubbed me the wrong way out of the gate and later that night I started messing with his head and made him cry by convincing him that vampires, werewolves, and other monsters were in fact real, and they were nearby and would probably kill/eat him at some point. Yeah, I was a prick. It was also extremely gratifying to teach someone that social skills mattered (he was much nicer to everyone the next day). I continued this trend until my mid-20's before outgrowing it.
Something I will note is that I didn't try and convince them that I was right, I would merely show them how narrow their view of the world was, how lacking they were in experiences, and that sort of thing.
My rant posts exist because I do not wish to battle someone on the internet. In my younger years I would have gladly gone to war on a message board for hours until a clear victor emerged. As I've gotten older I've found that I just don't don't care to try to change someone's mind on something they are set upon. I rant for those with open minds as they might find it amusing.
I struggle to think of this as maturing, seeing as when I read something outrageous I still want to reach through the screen and choke the shit out of them. Ah, good times.