It’s a daily struggle sometimes. Abraham Maslow proposed a pyramid of needs that accompanies humanistic psychology wherever it is preached. His pyramid outlined the most basic of human needs at the base – safety, a couch to think on, a roof to live under, a plate of food to eat – and then progressed to discuss larger, greater needs, such as those of love and belongingness. The top of his pyramid is dubbed the self-actualization point of the pyramid, at which point the person working up the slope has all his or her needs met and is ready to be the best they can be.
Yeah, it’s no wonder they call Maslow’s terminology ambiguous.
But it’s those two sets of needs that I described – shelter/food, and belongingness/love – that are the hardest to achieve, sometimes. Luckily, we’ve been able to have the luxury of not worrying about shelter and food. There’s a house where we come home to everyday, where the roof doesn’t leak, where entertainment is abundant, where the beds are warm, where the couches are comfy, where the windows are open, where the lighting is right, where the food is good. We love our lives in this respect.
But then there’s belongingness and love. You know, there’s always those people that walk around with their boyfriend or girlfriend or bestie, or soul mate, or whatever and I’m like, where’s mine?
But you don’t really react that way. Because you’re an independent, confident soul that finds comfort in the lines of books, in the pixels of television, in the discussions of English class, in the community of your service (yes, the community of your service; it makes sense, trust me).
But it’s undeniable that you probably feel a little lacking, a little disappointed.
Or am I wrong? How do you feel about those kind of things, Jackie? I feel this way about them, and I like to think I know you well enough to think this and be correct. You always tell me about these things but then I see you walking around school doing your work and talking to a short little puppy and texting on a little red phone, and … I see such a sure fire personality.
You’re a mystery all of your own, and so is everyone else. And I can’t assume I know your thoughts – because when you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.
But you know why you’re that way? Well, unless you’re hiding some magical potion that’s responsible for it, the reason why I see the confidence in your stride and the determination in your eyes is because you know that you have people by your side that love you just as much – more I’d say – than those companions walking down the hallway.
You come home to a loving family that enjoys being with you and caring for you as much as you enjoy being with them … well, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep down inside, you enjoy being with them, right?
Yeah, family’s always trouble. But they’re trouble that you and I would like to keep.
You come to school to people with open arms – don’t tell me it’s not true. There’s people willing to stare right into your eyes when they talk to you, willing to put up with your crap whenever you’re being cuckoo.
Your belongingness and love needs are met, I think – I hope – and that’s why I think you’re the way you are … I think. Right? I think so.
It sounds like I don’t know what I’m talking about! What is this?
But it’s only been to thank you for considering me as that person. What person? Hopefully the one that helps you meet your Maslow belongingness needs.
Remember how I was doing my notes about personality last night? Well, today it was followed up in class by a discussion on the topic. We discussed Freud’s psychosexual stages of personality development, but we focused on defense mechanisms. Blaming others, finding justifications for wrongdoings or for rejections from others, denial; all that, and my teacher reminded us at the end of her lecture that defense mechanisms are normal human behavior; that it’s normal to exhibit them, that it’s normal to be in denial, to blame someone else for your mistakes or for your misfortune.
But then I remembered how, for all my life, I’ve regarded exhibition of defense mechanisms as signs of a weak or inferior personality. As signs of a person that didn’t know how to come to terms with reality, as signs of a person that couldn’t accept something. Yet my teacher refuted this thought, as it swam through my mind, by saying that defense mechanisms help us humans do just that – they help us cope with misfortune, with unacceptable events, with the way they make us feel. It’s odd; I thought I was right about not exhibiting defense mechanisms being a virtue, but I guess not.
On the contrary – the one thing I like to think I have well implanted in my mind is the ability to recognize how I’m acting at a given point. I like to think that I’m always in full knowledge of how I’m acting – if I’m being cocky, if I’m being too optimistic, if I’m being mean, if I’m giving attitude, if I’m too excited. That doesn’t mean I condone any given way that I’m acting – I’m just saying that I am aware of how I’m acting. If I’m being mean or cocky, I’m not condoning the attitude, but I’m aware that I’m exhibiting it.
I like to think that. I can’t be sure of it – only those around me can be the judges of that, but moreover, I’m inclined not to say that I directly think that because if my friends were to see that and think otherwise, they’d never let me live it down.
Now, is that right? Why am I afraid of what my friends will think? It all comes back to my main conflict that you’re probably sick and tired of hearing about – what should I care about, and what should I dismiss as insignificant? Who should I listen to, and who should I tune out? If you think that I’m having this conflict (and I’m just thinking out loud here, I’m not attempting to make myself sound like the victim of anything, I’m only attempting to simultaneously explain and understand myself) maybe because I’m afraid of criticism of myself, or of my actions, or of my accomplishments; that’s not the case. I wouldn’t at all mind sitting down in front of someone that’ll spend entire hours telling me all that which is wrong with me; I honestly don’t – I just want to be sure that that person will be someone that is telling me the truth, and that will, after lecturing me about my flaws, be my friend and help me along the path to fix them.
I don’t want to depart on such a helpless note, so I will end today’s post by mentioning a feeling of natural happiness and satisfaction that I had the pleasure of experiencing – and here’s where I refer back to the party that “blew” a few days ago.
When the party was already winding down – well, wait; it was winding down the whole time, basically – I sat next to one of my good girlfriends (and by that, I mean one of my good friends that are girls, of which I have many) and her best friend, a very attractive high school freshman of 14. I wanted to get closer to her, but without being overt, I wouldn’t be able to. So I did something seemingly innocent that I was certain wouldn’t come under criticism from anyone around. I laid down on both of them, pretending to be tired and pretending I wanted to take a nap.
I’m telling you, physical contact is so excusable amongst adolescents these days.
Not that I meant to do anything inappropriate – and yes, I really didn’t – but, I don’t know; I still think teenagers are a little too free these days. Which is fine – (insert smiley face here).
I laid down on both of them while they kept talking to the people in the table across the courtyard. I looked up, and I saw this pretty girl I was chasing, sure enough, but I could only make out her dark, flowing hair set in front of a starry background. So I decided to poke her and start to tell her a story. She looked down at me, and before I commenced my stupid, fictitious story about my 1980s college life (yeah, OK Tomás; totally), I stopped to look at her perfect smile and at her pale white skin.
There’s nothing like laying down on the lap of a pretty girl like that. Even if you’re just kidding. I followed up my story-telling act by doing what you’d think – “Tomás, let’s go!” yelled my dad from down the parking lot of the house where the party was being held at.
So I stood up, waved goodbye to everyone, and fist pumped my way out to the driveway.
Earlier tonight (or yesterday, I should say, as it is 12:05 AM) I was working on book notes for my Psychology class. I was reading about Freud’s psychoanalytic approach towards personality, and how he believed that our personalities are fueled by sexual energy that we take and convert into energy for doing worthwhile activities and completing productive tasks. But it got me wondering, especially when the book began to speak about Freud’s psycho sexual, personality development stages. The last stage was dubbed the genital stage, where puberty causes one to develop sexual feelings or attractions towards others.
Then, as it always does, my mind began wandering through the endless meadows of thoughts unthunk (yes, I know unthunk isn’t really a word). The day before, I’d attended a party that promised to be one of those classic “rite of passage” high school parties where one picks up chicks, is introduced to the smell and taste of alcohol; all that. While the party did not accomplish any of this (I felt bad for the security guard that had to stand outside, in the cold, while standing the laughter of mostly sober kids) and undeniably “blew”, there was a given degree of JAMA large enough to allow the JAMA to be seen and appreciated.
Do you know what JAMA is? Well, basically, it’s a term made by my friends to refer all the hookups at parties, all the flirtations that go on at said parties, all the relationships adolescents have, all the “sex” they have (which in reality, mostly only refers to kissing, making out, and no actual intercourse), and all that.
And yes, I know it’s supposed to be a Cuban slang term for food.
But anyway; there was some noticeable flirtation going on, even some cheating (gasp!); some touchy touchy here, some nip and tucking there (nip and tucking?).
And so I began thinking about all that that went on at the party, all the while keeping Freud’s words in the back of my head. What fuels our sexual attractions towards others, really?
Because to me, when I was only two or three years younger, the idea of kissing wasn’t something that came to me because of sexual necessity, but instead simply because it was a part of human culture. When I kissed my now ex-girlfriend (I hate that term, but I don’t want people to think I’m in denial or something) for the first time (which on that note, was my first kiss), I liked it, and I repeated it a few more times after that, but the sexual pleasure or attraction or energy that was supposed to fuel my wanting to kiss her didn’t come until after the fact, when I realized how sexually pleasing kissing was.
After that came the French kissing, and the touchy touchy and the nip and tucking, but that’s a story for an 18+ blog (and no, it did not all happen on the same day).
The only reason I wanted to kiss her was because I liked her a lot and because I’d learned through classic, infantile observation of the world around me that kissing was the way people showed affection to each other. Oh, and because all my other friends that had boyfriends or girlfriends did it too.
Maybe she felt the same way. I should ask her.
I like to think that I’ve matured way too much since then, and that I can now contemplate my former (or ongoing) naiveté with a higher degree of understanding, intelligence, and objectivity. But all I can see is that, either my ex-girlfriend made my sex flower blossom, or I’m forgetting how I felt before the kiss. In any case, I’ve got to finish my notes.