Website owner: James Miller
Some people have very distinct, pronounced personality traits. I have one. It is conscientiousness. I am conscientious. And I have always been conscientious. It has always been important to me to do things right, to do them in the way they ought to be done. If I have some new kind of job to do I find out how to do the job right and then I do it right. If I am working on some home repair job or home improvement project I will take my time and read all the instructions on any new equipment or materials I am using, read any instruction manuals, talk to people if I need to, make sure I understand just how to do it. And then I do it. If I am fixing some new dish for dinner I will use the recipe book and follow the recipe (perhaps making some modifications here and there). If I buy a new VCR, camera, lawn mower or some other item you can be sure I will read the owner's manual before using it. Not all people will take the time needed to do a thing right. I do. And the same was true when I was a boy. I did all the school assignments that were given to me, did them conscientiously, making sure I understood each idea as I went along. I took whatever time was needed to do it right. If I didn't understand something I stayed with it until I understood it, however long it took. I have always been a person who cared. That is just the way I am. I don't want to half do anything. I am methodical, thorough and careful in all I do. I take my time and do it right. It is almost unheard of for me to break anything. I take good care of anything I own and it is likely to last for decades. I believe in conscientiousness. I feel it is one of the best of the character traits. Having said all this now, there is another character trait that tends to go hand in hand with conscientiousness and that trait has a social stigma attached to it. That trait is slowness. The conscientious person tends to be the slow, deliberate person. And the slow person is looked down on. He is viewed as inferior. The slow person tends to be slow in everything he does and in modern psychological theory slowness is equated with low intelligence. And I feel this idea that slow people lack in intelligence represents a terrible wrong, a terrible injustice, perpetrated against the conscientious person. The forerunners of Modern Psychology started this idea and our educational system, which trains and indoctrinates all its teachers in the ideas and assumptions of modern psychology, utilizes the idea and has indoctrinated the entire country into it. In doing it they have caused inferiority complexes, emotional problems and great suffering for huge numbers of children. They have stigmatized an entire personality group. I think this is a crime of great proportions. I would argue that the slow, deliberate person is slow because of the care with which he thinks, because he considers things much more carefully and at greater length, because he questions more, examines more, doubts more, ponders more, thinks more, than most people. I am and have always been a slow and deliberate person. I run on a different internal clock than most people and always have. It is peculiar quirk of mine that I have no control over. Whether I am eating, writing, doing dishes, or whatever, I am slow. My wife does the dishes in half the time that I do. But after she does them you see the dishes thrown in a helter-skelter, haphazard, thoughtless way into the drying rack. When I do them I wash each item with far more care and place them in the rack in a thoughtful, organized way. When I was a boy my teacher in the country school that I went to once told me I was as slow as molasses in January. I was always the slowest in everything I did. Whether I was picking red raspberries, picking cucumbers, hand-milking cows, spreading bedding for the cows, I was always the slowest. I could not help but be aware of my slowness and developed an inferiority complex because of it that was a monkey on my back for many, many years. In spite of my slowness, however, I was a good student in school. And in high school I was an A student and at the top of my classes. But I always felt that the system was biased against me (and people like me); that it was rigged against me. Why? Because all the tests were time tests and I had a very difficult time in finishing a test. I was just too slow. I felt I was being penalized because of my natural slowness. I felt I should have been allowed as much time as I needed to finish the tests. And I still feel the same way. It was terribly frustrating and demoralizing. I felt great pressure and stress. I felt the system was completely unfair, unjust, and wrong and I was angry about it. It was an emotionally traumatic experience for me. I got A's in spite of the system because the test questions I did do, I almost invariably got right. If I had been allowed to complete the tests I would have gotten perfect 100's. It made me angry. It also made me feel very insecure because my problem with taking time tests could easily have hurt me mark- wise a lot more than it did -- there was always the possibility of flunking a test because of an inability to finish it -- I always took a test with great fear and trepidation. I was a loner, in my own world, with a lot of problems, feeling depressed and low much of the time. There is one good thing I can say about my high school: the teachers were good. They had high standards. And there was one I especially liked and worked hard for. Then I went to college. There all marks were based on time tests causing me the same kinds of problems. And in college I was forced to cover so much material so rapidly that I had difficulty going over the ideas in the slow, careful, conscientious way that is so much a part of my nature. If high school was traumatic for me, college was ten times as bad. It was a terrible struggle, an ugly nightmare. My curriculum was difficult anyway (mathematics and physics), the textbooks were mostly atrocious, and the teachers mostly poor. And even more than in high school, you were just another number. In addition, languages come hard for me and I had to take two years of German. You can put an infinite amount of time into studying a language and I put a huge amount of time into German at the expense of my other subjects. I had to decide where to put my limited time and I was good in mathematics and technical subjects and so I spent my time on German (I have never used it since and it was just a big waste of time). College was an ugly, unending ordeal for me. I endured, held on. I stuck with it, finished it, got my degree. It was a very bad experience. I felt terrible pressure and stress throughout the whole thing; was depressed, unhappy, mentally agitated most of the time; had absolutely no faith in the fairness or justness of the system. I believe that conscientousness and a thinking, questioning, examining, probing mind are very important assets to a person in life. I believe in them. But I also think they are great liabilities, great handicaps, to a person in school, especially in college. In college you are forced to cover a great deal of material very rapidly. You simply do not have time to dig too deep, ask too many questions, examine too carefully. There you must plow shallowly, memorize the facts, formulas and techniques, learn how to use them, and be happy with that. For me that was hard to do and I learned late. People have different kinds of minds, different personalities, different motivations and objectives. I have always been a person inclined towards reflective thought, a thinker. Great and profound ideas impress me. In school I was interested in the concepts and ideas that I encountered in mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc. -- too interested. That was a liability. I tended to get bogged down in details, questions, derivations and proofs. Why am I saying all this? I am saying it for the sake of that reader of mine who may be a slow, deliberate, conscientious person such as myself. The school system discriminates against him. So does much of the work world. Our society discriminates against him. He is looked down on as inferior. He is fired from jobs because of his slowness. He is wronged over and over. My struggle has been a hard one. I have been unusually successful in life. I want him to know my background. Feb 2004 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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