I am an engineer. Not a particularly good or smart one, but one of quite long standing now. It doesn't completely define who I am obviously, but nevertheless it suits me. From an early age I loved to build and fix things, but most particularly I loved to take pretty much anything apart to see how it works. In the painful, chaotic and confusing environment of my childhood I found much comfort in the solidity and constancy of gadgets, construction toys and the domestic machines we had dotted around the place.
In my work there are days where I do nothing but carry out a repetitive sequence of relatively complex calculations to ensure that the parts we are planning to make will actually work. I love those days. I shut everything and everyone out for a while and lose myself in the numbers.
Calculating and manipulating the various formulae is kind of like playing with toy soldiers in a way. I arrange and re-arrange the numbers and symbols. I order them about. I line them up this way and that until a pattern emerges that looks stable. I know then that the design part concerned will withstand the working conditions in which it must function. Numbers consistently obey the rules just as machines are designed to. They are friendly in that way.
I know that probably sounds a bit odd. But the thing with numbers is that I know that as long as I'm careful ... if I can just work through each stage methodically in a focused manner and not miss anything off ... well then I can get it right.
I mean right right, not nearly or almost, but bang on perfect.
There are no other areas in my life where this is possible. But there is much in my inherent nature that wants it to be. I want to be able to figure everything out ... to shake all the variables out onto the table and then line them up and if necessary modify them so that they behave consistently ... or at least more consistently.
I find change and uncertainty frightening. Always have. Social stuff scares me stiff most of the time. Have I mentioned that I stammer? Also I blush like a small girl over the stupidest things. I go blotchy red and hot. There's often no cause that I can pinpoint other than the fact that I feel anxious a lot when I'm with people generally. I can't figure out why or how to stop it happening.
I hate being this way and yet at the same time I know it's chicken feed in the overall scheme of things. There are worse things than being a nervous wreck. But it stops me wanting to mix with people who don't already know me ... and sometimes even the ones that do. Close friendships are few, but they light my life all the same. They are deep and solid. I believe in them and I trust as much as I can. I am lucky in many ways, I know that. Through my friends I am learning to lighten up ... kind of.
I see people around me embracing change all the time, welcoming it for the excitement it brings. I wonder at their courage. I wonder at my lack of it. If I knock all the toy soldiers over they won't just get up and re-group by themselves.
I can't conjure. I can't change things to be the way I want them to be. But I can learn to accept things the way they are.
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