Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone has something in their lives that they struggle to control. We all have that friend who can’t attend a party without puking or passing out (or both). We all know someone who can’t pass up that extra portion of dessert (or who can’t ever bring themselves to eat it), and let us not forget our colleague who cannot last two hours without stepping outside to have a cigarette.

Now, do not mistake me: I am not saying that people cannot control issues. I am merely saying that every person has an issue in their life that they struggle to control. I am convinced that this is true for every person—that we all have at least one such issue—and so the trick, for an inquisitive person such as myself, is to identify that issue. In a number of cases—depending on the issue or the person—this can be incredibly challenging.

For instance, who thinks of “trust” as a matter of control? Yet, some people cannot help but to trust everyone they meet. This is obviously very different from alcoholism or drug abuse, but it can also be very damaging and is just as much about lack or loss of control; the person cannot seem to control who they trust, and therefore sustain psychological injury as a result.

Likewise, what about exercise? Some people claim to have an “exercise addiction,” and others jealously mutter that they wish they were addicted to exercise. But what if exercising consumes your life? If working out is all you do, if your entire schedule consists of running; if the only friends you have are your lifting buddies; if all you own are swim suits, track pants, sneakers, and an IPod, are you still maintaining control over that pastime, or has it become an addiction just as consumptive as, say, alcohol or shopping?

Which brings me back to my original conclusion: that everyone struggles with some sort of control issue, no matter how obscure. I am slightly obsessed with discovering what that is for people in my life; I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it is a matter of trust, to let others know what is (or at least feels) “out of control” in your life. Perhaps I want them to trust me enough to let me in on that vulnerable detail?

Yet, oddly enough, some of the people I trust most in my life are the people who seem most “in control” of their lives. For instance, I don’t think my mother will ever let me glimpse whatever her “control issue” is . . . if she has one. She is probably the only person who makes me doubt my theory (although my friend R___ in Boston and E___ in Pittsburgh are also in the running for those least likely to let their infallible armors of self control falter). I admire these people hopelessly, but not knowing their “one vice” drive me a bit insane, because as much as I idolize them, I am a realist—no one is perfect. I call these people perfect, I see them as perfect, but in my innermost mind, I cannot believe them to be absolutely perfect. Meanwhile, though, I will envy their façade of control . . . and do my best to emulate them.

1 comment:

DocAnt said...

You remind me of House. You must complete the puzzle in others. Thus becoming your vice as well.