Caring and not caring

Usually, caring about the broader context is a Good Thing. Sometimes, it’s a Bad Thing.

I spend a lot of time trying to relate fine-grained data and stimuli to the bigger picture. I really can’t help it. It’s how my brain works.

Having a brain that works this way is certainly supposed to be an advantage in any role that requires thinking strategically or about the long term. I suppose thinking this way makes for better cocktail party conversation, about the state of the world or the meaning of life or what-not. People probably perceive me as intelligent and thoughtful, although I can’t help wondering if they pity my lack of traditionally-defined accomplishment in my life.

Sometimes, caring about the broader context is not such a benefit. To get to the long term, you have to pass through many many iterations of the short term. This is particularly true in the working world. Often office work involves disengaging tasks such as filing papers. Not every job entails this kind of work all the time, of course, and looking for one that doesn’t is probably a good idea for me. (That’s why I’m in grad school.) But sometimes, it’s just a means to an end.

I’m blessed to be in a great laboratory to practice not caring. It’s easiest to not care when I know that the assessment of my performance has no ability to negatively affect what anyone else thinks of me, because no one else takes that assessment seriously. And of course, it’s even better to learn to derive my value from my relationship with God rather than from such flighty, arbitrary evaluations anyway.