Review: A Separate Peace

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A Separate Peace Book Review
3 of 5 stars to A Separate Peace, a novel written in 1959 by John Knowles. I suspect if I were to re-read this “classic” again now, it has a chance of getting a higher rating; however, I’m not in a rush to prove the theory. I have a few good memories of the story, some a bit “blah,” but overall… it was a decent book. When I read The Secret History last year, I had vague recollections of this being somewhat similar, though the topics are quite different.

At the core, this is a coming-of-age story focused on Gene and Finny, two polar opposite boys at a prep school around the time of WW2. An accident occurs which may have been deliberate, thus becoming the focus of the story. As a result of the accident, one of the characters suffers an injury that prevents him from continuing on his path to the Olympics. Friends take sides. Families wonder. But the friends try not to question it. Until other people force them to. And in the end, there is pain, death, forgiveness and unexpected consequences.

The book is a good juxtaposition of lifestyles and choices. It makes you think about what you’d do in such a situation. How far can one person be pushed? And when you do something wrong, do you tell anyone, especially if you can get away with it? Lots to teach young adults, learning to make their own decisions and set a path for their life.

I enjoyed the story, but I would have preferred a more modern setting. I’m not a fan of excessive sports or war, and these were two central themes in the book, which ultimately led me to feel partially disconnected. But the parts inside the character’s head, questioning motives, being psychological in their analysis, were the ones worth reading.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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365 Challenge: Day 50 – Self-Conscious

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Self-Conscious: feeling undue awareness of oneself, one’s appearance, or one’s actions

Some people are completely content with who they are, how they look and the way they act. I have never been one of those people. I envy those people. Those people make me frustrated. I dream of being one of those people. But I have definitely improved over the years when it comes to how self-conscious I’ve been.

OK… to put it all out there… the list of things I’m self-conscious over:

  • Being too pale and feeling like everyone can see every blemish, burn, fluster or discoloration in skin tone
  • Feeling too short
  • Needing to wear glasses
  • Body parts too small or too big (I find fault with everything!)
  • Inexperience over various things
  • How clothing fits
  • Being too young or too old in a situation
  • Dancing
  • Sports
  • … let’s stop for now or I’ll go on for ever

We all feel this way at some point in our lives. For some of us, it’s only a little bit and we outgrow it. For many of us, it’s powerful and consuming. And at times, it can feel like the entire world “has it in for you.” But that’s simply not true, and I only feel comfortable saying this many years into my adulthood, where part of me doesn’t “give a shit” (pardon my language) what others think.

As a child, teenager and younger adult, I was self-conscious over everything and it caused small panic attacks, retreat, and wasted time and energy. If I spent half as much time worrying as I did, I’d have so much less stress and a many more comforts today than I do (and I have little stress and a lot of comforts).

Ultimately, it came down to 2 primary things causing these tensions: (1) I didn’t trust in myself or in others and (2) I was immature or inexperienced. Let’s dive in a little deeper:


  • Trust is a two-way action; to be successful, both people in the relationship or situation must trust one another.

  • I have always had issues trusting others when I do not know them. As a result, strangers always represented the possibility of something bad or wrong (no, nothing ever happened to me… I just kept people at arm’s length). When you don’t trust someone, you assume the worst. For me, the worst meant they didn’t like me and would do, think or say negative things about me.
  • Although I am always a trustworthy person, if I don’t show this to others, they may not immediately trust me either. And if someone doesn’t trust me, then they may actually be doing, thinking or saying those negative things.
  • Without trust, you assume the worst and over-think a situation, helping breed more self-conscious behaviors within your own actions. The foundation for feeling good about yourself either fails to build, minimizes itself or disappears entirely.
  • Less trust therefore means you question more… and once you question things about yourself, the flood of self-conscious thoughts flows.
  • And whether people admit it or not… and I feel this is a strong fact out there that needs to be accepted:
    • Yes, there are people out there who are doing/saying/thinking negative things about you. They are judging you… They are laughing… And they might be better than you when it comes to certain things. It may be 1% or 10% of the people in your life, depending on where you are at any given moment. But here’s my point: You can’t change it… it’s them, not you. You only control you. So don’t let it hold you back. Just let yourself know it’s happening, but limit how/where/when it truly affects you. Don’t let it consume you.

Immature / Inexperience

  • When you are younger, you don’t know any better. You haven’t learned a lot key lessons, ones which help build your confidence, esteem and sense of worth.
  • If you know less, you feel inferior. That is, until you realize, learning is a life-long process. And not knowing something is an opportunity to improve and gain knowledge. It’s not about focusing on what you don’t know, but how you will amass or absorb it.
  • It takes many years to realize that people are so often caught up in their own insecurities and self-esteem, they are NOT thinking about you as much as you think they are. And when you realize people aren’t focused on you, you relax a little… allowing yourself to be less critical about the things you worry over.
  • At some point, you will reach the moment we all have at various points in our life: “Who really cares?”

  • So what if you are more good-looking, smarter, thinner, richer, etc.? Why is it always a comparison? There are several billion people on this planet… we will NEVER know who is the best at anything even when someone wins that title. Not everyone participates. Some people live under a rock (exaggeration… I know)… and therefore the rest of us will never know how good that person is.
    • Too many people to worry
    • Too much else to enjoy
    • It stops you from your own purpose
    • It’s never-ending
  • So… accept that it’s a continuous journey and not a race to get to a point of perfection. (Yes, the perfectionist, who isn’t perfect and knows it, just said that).

Given everything I’ve said, a few things on my mind:

  1. I will always be self-conscious about certain things, but each time it happens, I push myself to determine why it’s important… and then find a way to lessen the impact.
  2. If it’s something I can change, and it’s important to me to change it, then I work on a path to do so.
  3. If it’s not something I can change, then I let it go. Find your triggers. Make small in-roads to re-routing your thoughts. And if you can’t… move on. Other things need better focus.
  4. Find the thing you feel even better about, and tell yourself that’s the piece that matters… not what you don’t feel good about. Be positive.
  5. Don’t focus on what the other people are doing… only yourself in this situation: it is acceptable to do such a thing and not considered selfish.

That said… I’m gonna tell myself I have that sexy librarian nerd look when I wear my glasses today while working out at the gym. And anyone looking at me just wants to get lucky with me, even tho I’ll be a sweaty mess bouncing around all over the place. And it’s not because I’m using the exercise machine the wrong way — it’s because I’m awesome!  😛

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.