Self-Preservation: The Good, The Bad & The Unknown

Earlier this year, I have decided to deactivate my Facebook account of nearly 12 years. My reason for doing so, just like I would imagine so many others, is personal, completely subjective, but is really so simple, there’s just no question about it: I do not want to dislike certain family/friends any more than I should by being exposed to their worst personas online. From political differences, to biased disagreements, I have resolved to not be exposed to any of it, any longer. It’s a long overdue break-up with a platform that, for the most part, served me well, especially in the first few years of using it. It is the result of part self-preservation, part exhaustion, I would say.

People are different. People are complex. The fastest way to drain yourself emotionally is to surround yourself with those that bring nothing of value to you, at least that is how I look at it. If I can be picky about the type of media I consume, how much more with the type of people I invite to my life? It is not so much as being a complete, close-minded snob as to having a certain level of cautiousness in realizing the risks involved with being associated with the wrong crowd, or worse — with those that’ll pull you away from success, from happiness, from peace. To me, it is not worth it.

See, I have always had a thing for self-preservation. At some point in my early 20’s, I’ve even called it my defense mechanism, and it has always been a comforting part of my character, and one that I’d use every chance I get, for every potential setback I’d likely face. When I was a kid, it was writing poetry. In high school, and college, it’s translating those writings for broader audiences: early 2000’s blogs, school publications and magazines, sometimes under a real name, oftentimes using a pseudo-name with a bio typically inspired by lyrics from musicians such as Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, and Fleetwood Mac. This intense need for self-expression was the product of familial adversities, introversion, and bullying. Self-preservation came naturally, after that.

Whether or not it’s right to continue using it every time I feel the need to isn’t my main concern. It’s more so about it’s long-term nature. I need to make sure there’s a balance between my ego, and my well-intentions, my fragile heart and my cognitive thinking, my innately empathetic self, and my sanity. I need to make sure, just like everything I invest time into, that it’s a worthwhile necessity, rather than a slowly poisonous, bruised-ego-driven thing that I just couldn’t let go.

This is a delicate thought that I’d like to thread very carefully so, instead of continuously searching for answers, I would take a different approach and ask questions on the subject: When is self-preservation too much? How can I best use it to benefit others, too? Is it ideal on a macro, or micro setting? If neither, how can I un-condition myself from it to stop it from causing harm to myself, or anyone else, for the matter?

However long it takes me, I am pretty confident I’ll find the answers to this. It is, after all, the point of all these books, films, art, music and literature, isn’t it? To find clarity in ways that’ll allow both the creator and the consumer to get outside of his/her own heads, in between the chapters, the lyrics, the scenes and the strokes of a painting.

The answers are there. We just need to keep seeking.

Where I’m currently seeking answers:

Film: (Documentary) The Dawn Wall, Netflix — an astonishing and really touching portrayal of human endurance against all odds.

Book: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman — To say that this is probably one of the most important readings I’ve ever had in the last few months is an understatement.

Voice: (Podcast Episodes) The Angel Philosopher on Farnam Street, Doing The Enough Thing on Farnam Street and It’s Your Turn, by Seth Godin

As always, I welcome any suggestions for similar topics. Thank you for reading.

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