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The clique: the pressing and recurring realization

June 15, 2009

Another emo-tastic blog post for you all; matte kudesai for your regular scheduled Irresistible (Dis)Grace.

Do you ever have a realization that, although you know you need to become familiar with it…and although you know you need to internalize it and become used to it, incorporating it into your being…you just can’t? You can’t because you are your own person, and you have some positions that you default to. Unfortunately, others don’t. So you continue to learn and forget a lesson again and again, and you lament that you have to learn this lesson or suffer.

Of course, I’m not saying that everyone’s going to have the same realization. Everyone will not have the same lesson that will serve as a limiter, a recurring wall or barrier. But this is obvious: people are different. They have different desires, goals, and experiences, so it’s natural that their desires will run into The Way Things Are in different ways, producing a slightly different conclusion for each person.

Still, I think I’m becoming more and more aware of my lesson, but maybe I already knew it, but forgot or ignored it.

It is a lesson about cliques. It is a lesson about external acceptance and internal solidarity.

For myself, I want to be internally solid. I want to be myself, and work at making myself the best I can be without losing sight of myself.

Yet, the mission of the clique is that people should strive for external acceptance. People should want to be accepted by their external environments (whatever they are), and as such they align themselves with the goals of the group. In this process, they annihilate themselves and recreate themselves in the name of the clique.

Normally, there shouldn’t be any conflict. For example, if I stay away from the clique and the clique is self-contained in its group…then no problem. But if I, for some reason, want to engage with the clique, then all kinds of chaos arises.

I may want to engage with the clique for many reasons. I may want to do it for career goals, for school, for entertainment. The fact is that whatever the “clique” is, it represents something that has resources. Resources that I may want.

But in the end, the clique does have its goals, and they may be distinct from mine. I can try to project my desires and goals onto the clique, but this effort will always be resisted and rebuffed by the clique, which defines its own goals.

I used to always wonder what people would mean in recruiting for accounting firms when they would say, “It’s all about the people.” But now I think I am beginning to understand…for the most part, all of the firms in Big 4 public accounting do the same things. You’ve got some audit function (that’ll have a bunch of different names and acronyms depending by firm), some tax function, and some information systems function. Then you’ll have various specialty functions…but basically, each firm is doing the same things. What differs is their methodology and the culture…in other words…what differs is the “clique.” Ernst and Young has a different culture than PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and both have different cultures from Deloitte or KPMG. And the goal is to find which culture you fit in. Which clique you fit in.

This is life too. If you have two forces waging war: the internal and the external clique, then you can’t have two drastically opposed forced together for long or they will annihilate each other (you will get burnt out and will want to leave; the employer won’t get the best performance). But if you can mesh and align values — make it so that the internal values coalign with the values of the external clique, then you can have both external acceptance and internal integrity.

This is why for most people, their recurring realization doesn’t have to deal with this. Because most people naturally and without issue gravitate to cliques that match their internal desires and so they are willing to be remade by the clique.

When someone becomese a Christian, for example, he knows that he will “lose himself” to gain new life in Christ. But for most, this is not problematic, because they believe in Christianity; they believe in Jesus Christ and the atonement.  So the annihilation of their “self” (the sinning, lowly, natural man) is not lamented — because to them, they will gain more internal integrity as they are assimilated into the whole “Body of Christ.”

The problem is…everyone doesn’t believe this. Everyone is not inclined for this clique. So, for those who doubt, for those who have troubles, for skeptics, for nonbelievers, for ex-Christians and ex-Mormons and ex-employees, they have to live a life where they have been trying to annihilate themselves for a cause they don’t even support. And they can’t do it. For all the external acceptance they get, they are lying and killing themselves, so they never have joy.

But by realizing this and breaking away, they aren’t completely happy either. Every “ex” must realize that what they’ve done is abandoned external acceptance (whether parents, friends, coworkers, whatever.,) for a lonesome internal integrity. And this creates the pressing realization…they didn’t really want this…but they didn’t want to lose themselves either. They wanted to change the external clique to be like their internal self. They wanted to remake the world, the career, the church into something that they could fit in with, but it was nevere meant to be.

The recurring realization is this: “You were not made for this. This is not for you, and because of that, you can never find what you want in trying to reform this place to fit you, no matter how hard you want to. Even though you will not remember this message and you will continue pushing forward and being rebuffed, you have to learn that your ideal situation simply is not so.”

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