Oh, the plateau. The realization that things have gone stale and stagnant to the point where you begin to sniff yourself just to check if you have started smelling of mothballs and mildew. I have been feeling that for the past few years ever since I earned my masters. Not that I am considering getting a doctorate since I have actually lost my drive in doing anything academic.

But it is that general lack of perceived growth and learning. Probably why over the past couple of months, I am becoming a seminar junkie. Credit the wife for introducing me to those one-to-two day seminars. We started out with a basic photography seminar and, just last week, a seminar on real estate. And we just signed up for a food photography class next month.

I was not a fan of those since, being a driven autodidact, I prided in teaching myself all the other skills that allow me to function in a myriad of ways in my life. Maybe it is the thrill of learning something new. Something different. But deep down, I know it is more of being schooled by people who are experts in their fields. (Yes. Amazingly, I do have the humility to admit that some people are smarter than me.)

I thrive well in competition. To push myself, I often find myself creating some friendly opposition just to see how I could rise above. I had been doing it academically since grade school when my parents pushed me with that way of thinking albeit in a more negative and destructive way. In high school, I “competed” against my good friend Abet. He got better grades than I did, graduated with higher honors but that pushed me to put in more effort in study. In college, a guy named Bryan and I had our game of paramihan ng uno just to see who gets more 1.0/A+ grades in a semester. I graduated with high honors.

People’s praise and flattery can get to you quite badly especially when they regard you as being really good at plenty of things. Thinking (and knowing) that you are the smartest guy in the room does not do you any favors. The moment that happens, it is the start of that creep towards stagnation and dusty death. Smug bastardy.

I want that push. I need that push. I miss that kind of jostling. The unfortunate thing is that I do not have that kind of character in my life. Family and friends do not count. You do not compete with your precious friends. You just do not.

Probably why out-of-my-field seminars are my meth these days. At least in those rooms, I am not the smartest guy.

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