When I was young, my parents would reward me when I did well in school. I got good grades all throughout high school and college, but good grades was never my personal goal.
When I was in my early 20s, I went to work for a corporation. My bosses would reward me with praise and money when I worked hard in the laboratory, but working hard in that field was not something I really wanted.
Whenever I got a new bang, I told my friends and they congratulated me. This reward caused me to pursue bangs that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I was thrusting the girl not just for me, but for my friends.
Whenever I got a new flag, I published a story on my blog or in a book. My readers rewarded me with their praise, causing me to chase flags longer than I had originally planned.
Whenever I sell a new book, I’m rewarded with money, causing me to write more books.
Whenever a girl compliments me on my strength, I work out even harder in the gym.
Whenever a man compliments me on my outfit, I think of new ways to better my style.
Am I not a machine that just seeks validation in others, in both obvious and subtle forms?
How much of my desire truly comes from within, and how much is determined by reward or punishment? Why do I feel more reward from a bang than the average man? Why do I feel less reward from money? Haven’t the goals we have in life been shaped for years by influences outside of our immediate control? How much say do we really have in the goals we set for ourselves? If I was put on an island, alone, at a young age, wouldn’t my wants be quite different than they are now? How much different?
I’d like to believe that there is a strong genetic component to my being. I want to believe that my ancestors have determined my destiny, but it’s hard to come to that conclusion. I’m nothing more than a man of my times, shaped by a wave of civilization that determines the majority of my behavior and thinking. I think we are all men of our times, and had we been born in a different era, we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves in the mirror.
Read Next: Coping With Exile