Maybe being oneself is always an acquired taste.
Do Not Define Me
A person, as an artist, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices. A free spirit and open-minded thinker.
Hmmm… My son once described me to his friends as a MILF. To my face he said I’m a bohemian. My ex said to one of his ladies that I was magic, but to me, he said I was a short fat and ugly gold-digging flirt head hunter who was holier than thou one of a kind spirit who got nothing to offer to a man. A man-hater frigid who pretends to be intelligent but otherwise stupid who got a limited taste in music and to top it all manic-depressive. Let’s not talk about how my daughter sees me. That would be a long and complicated story. The point of all of these…
The point is_ we are a lot of things to a lot of people. Each of them has their own version of us. None of those matches the image we have of ourselves in our heads. Not even close.
I see myself as a plain Jane of average intelligence. Aloof and introvert, shy melancholic and highly sensitive.
So many people will disagree. For most, I am confident, assertive smart outgoing social.
Alpha they say.
I’m not an Alpha. I’m not even Bravo Charlie or Delta. Just kidding. I’m more of an Omega. Really.
No. Seriously, I don’t give a damn how people see me. As long as their opinions are not interfering with my existence, they can draw/paint every picture they want.
My husband puts me on a pedestal. For him, I can do no wrong.
Easy you might say. No, it isn’t. You don’t get feedback that way. You don’t get constructive criticism which helps you to grow and improve as a person.
He was brought up in this fashion, believing he is a shining golden boy who is perfect in every way. The result? He has a problem with anything that defies that image of him, hindering him to grow to his full potential and evolve as a human being supposed to be through years of experience and making mistakes. The consequences of that upbringing he is still reaping to this day via his work, social contacts, relationships in general. Whenever troubles reach his shore, he automatically assumes that it is because of an external factor, others, not him, never him.
I don’t want to be like that. Just hand me a mirror.
I want the truth.
But what is the truth?
Everybody has their own truths.
You know… That image again we have in our heads? That doesn’t match with the ones they have in theirs? That.
Now, the circle is complete.
By Emily Bartran
I should probably preface this by saying that to see the beauty in this quote, you might have to be a little dark and twisted.
Not, like, Marla Singer dark and twisted.
Just enough to acknowledge that life, in its entirety, is as tragic as it is joyous, as painfully lonely as it is rich with love and friendship and serendipitous-bordering-on-fateful connection, and as unconcerned with our individual sufferings as it is generous with extra servings of the good stuff.
Basically, it’s an unpredictable mess, but it’s the only unpredictable mess we’ve got, and at the end of the day it’s usually pretty enjoyable.
I struggle, sometimes, to remember the latter halves of all those extremes life seems to hand us—you know, the halves that are actually good. Instead, I get caught up in the waiting game: once this is over I’ll be happy again, when I move here it will be easier to make friends, my life will really get started once I do this/that/the other.
Instead of figuring out how to make the life I’m currently living work best for me, instead of actually making a change, I make plans for a change. There is a lot of list-writing and smugness for having successfully “figured it all out” involved.
But I stumbled across a David Foster Wallace quote that simultaneously felt like a punch in the face and the tender kind of hug only a consoling mama-bear can offer.
It openly acknowledges the (really) bad stuff, but it doesn’t allow me to wallow in the waiting game.
It starts like this:
“…the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle…our endless and impossible journey toward home is, in fact, our home.”
My first reaction to this was a previously unexperienced emotional combination of emphatic agreement and the immediate disillusionment of the trajectory of the rest of my life.
Trying to figure out who we are is hard and horrific and only ever vaguely successful, but because this is what society has loosely defined as part of our “purpose,” that hard and horrific and only-ever-vaguely-successful struggle has become all-consuming. It’s what we aim to resolve every day, from choosing our career path to choosing the Instagram filter that best fits our virtual aesthetic. Cue emphatic agreement.
But—this struggle is my home? No no, that’s not right. This struggle is a means to an end. This struggle is taking me somewhere.
Once I figure out who I am, once I conquer this struggle…
And it was this exact moment in my train of thought that I found myself playing that pesky waiting game again. Cue disillusionment and metaphorical punch in the face.
The aim of trying to figure out who we are is nearly impossible to separate from the massive and minuscule decisions we make as we go about our daily lives. And you know what our daily lives are? Our entire lives.
We fall in love at a bar on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday evening. We get the call that a loved one died while we’re grocery shopping. We take a business card from the guy sitting next to us on an exhausting plane ride and that business card changes the course of our career three months later.
The journey to establish our self—to build a home that is complete with four walls and a roof and has a concrete definition of You sitting at the dinner table—is never-ending, because every experience and decision we make further informs and develops that definition.
That means the struggle that comes along with it never ends, either.
Now that I’ve spent 613 words’ worth of your time presenting you with what probably seems like an absolute bummer of a quote, here are 119 more that will (maybe, hopefully) turn that perception around.
I think I may have audibly sighed with relief and solace when I read the rest of Foster Wallace’s quote. If words had the power to physically tuck the anxiety and expectations surrounding life, in general, away into a dusty little corner of my mind, that’s exactly what these words would have done.
Interestingly, though, I’ve shown this to a few people and each of them had completely different interpretations and responses to it.
So, the rest of the quote will be left here without any other comment. I hope you feel the comforting arms of a mama-bear around you:
“…finally, the door opens, and it opens outward: we’ve been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.”
I have a different idea of elegance. I don’t dress like a fop, it’s true, but my moral grooming is impeccable. I never appear in public with a soiled conscience, a tarnished honor, threadbare scruples, or an insult that I haven’t washed away. I’m always immaculately clean, adorned with independence and frankness. I may not cut a stylish figure, but I hold my soul erect. I wear my deeds as ribbons, my wit is sharper and when I walk among men I make truths ring like spurs.”
Ah, the big question. Personally, I think that if you haven’t asked this question, then you aren’t self-aware. So basically, if you have a soul, you’ve asked this question. And if you’ve asked this question, then I’m of the opinion that you do have a destiny.
But before you start imagining yourself waving to the joyful crowds on the day of your parade for saving the world from total annihilation, let’s pause for a second and think about what it really means to have a destiny and purpose in this life. Don’t roll your eyes. This is important. There are people in this world who have chosen to believe that it’s their destiny to blow up a train station or something. So, destiny and life purpose can be an unbelievably powerful thing to believe in.
Side note: please don’t blow anyone up. That’s not what life is really about.
Oooooo. Did you just get a shiver? Because I got a shiver. This is one of those words that carries so much meaning behind it, we don’t really know how to completely explain it. Those seven letters practically sing with purpose, importance, and a kind of unstoppable power that both whispers in your ear and shouts into the cosmos and back again.
But what is destiny?
Typically, when we imagine we have a destiny, we see ourselves accomplishing grand things. Saving princesses, slaying dragons, and quitting your miserable job to start a company that becomes so successful, your mean old boss begs to work for you. Fame and butt loads of money roll in, of course. What destiny would be complete without that? Oh, and while we’re at it, I’d like one of those replicating machines from Star Trek. We imagine conquering the impossible. We hope for superpowers. We picture victory, sweet victory.
Unfortunately, replicators don’t exist. 😦 And sadly, most of the above are, in fact, pure fantasy. Even if every person in the world had a destiny, surely there aren’t that many princesses. Or dragons. Or money, to be honest. So, if we believe that everyone has a destiny — and I do— then what kind of destiny should we be looking for?
The truth about destiny is that firstly, for most people, it’s not a singular grand task. Sure, saving a princess sounds very cut and dry. Difficult, but easy to grasp the concept of. Find the princess. Save said princess from evil _____. Tada! All done. But destiny, real destiny, isn’t like that. It’s entirely possible that a person might come across a situation in which it becomes clear that there is a task to complete and it is important. Life is a beautiful, and painful, variety of things. And things most certainly happen. However, in most cases, for most people, real true destiny is in the small moments. In the magnificence of every day.
Once you take off the fairy-tale goggles and gently set them aside. (Please don’t angrily rip them off, they get us through quite a lot of hard times, respect the dreamer in you and please don’t let it die. It’s a special part of your soul that allows you to imagine the impossible. Letting it die would be like ceasing to see several colors of life.) You can now have the ability to reshape the way you look at what having a destiny means, and also what your destiny might actually be. See, another reason why you keep dreaming about what your destiny is is because you haven’t found your personal destiny. Daydreaming is a kind of superpower, but it has it’s place. You can’t find your purpose if you’re looking in the wrong place.
Once you have truly embraced what destiny isn’t, you can now start looking at what you’re destiny, or purpose might be. See, destiny doesn’t need a parade to be grand, or a reward of vast riches to be important. Destiny is really, about being yourself. This is where fairy-tales aren’t wrong. A hero fulfills his/her destiny not by defeating the evil whatsitsface, but by learning to be true to themselves in that moment of decision. Look back at every story ever told. The good ones. The hero had some sort of personal problem to overcome or deal with, before being able to fight the big bad guy and save the day. More importantly, they wouldn’t have been able to defeat the baddie unless they dealt with the fight within themselves first. This is where destiny is found. Within, not in the external action. You can do the same thing, just minus the evil sorcerer.
So how do you figure out your destiny? Don’t ask the universe. Don’t ask your best friend, or your mom, or your coach. Ask yourself. If you don’t know, find out. It’s probably because you haven’t challenged yourself, or there’s something else going on, or you’re already in the middle of your big fight within yourself and either you don’t want to recognize it or you can’t see it. It’s difficult to recognize the scope of the storm when you’re just struggling to stand up in the winds, sometimes.
How do you get to know yourself, you ask? Put your phone down. Spend some time with yourself. Think, inside your own head without anything interrupting you for a designated period of time. Journal. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to write. Getting started is the hardest part. Find a list of questions that you might ask someone to get to know them. Write that question down, and pretend someone asked you that question. What would your answer be? Write it down. No one gets to know a person in a day, give yourself some time. Be kind and patient with yourself. Your purpose isn’t going to arrive on a silver platter, served by a gloved and poised butler. You need to search for it.
It’s worth the wait, I promise.
Writer, dreamer, critic and believer. Freethinker, Skeptic/Realist, and Renaissance woman.
“Never presume to know a person based on the one-dimensional window of the internet. A soul can’t be defined by critics, enemies or broken ties with family or friends. Neither can it be explained by posts or blogs that lack facial expressions, tone or insight into the person’s personality and intent. Until people “get that”, we will forever be a society that thinks Beautiful Mind was a spy movie and every stranger is really a friend on Facebook.”
It’s all about this picture quote: (featuring a battered foot of a ballet dancer)
“Everyone wants to be successful until they see what it actually takes.”
One Ian Patrick Pearce said:
“Some of us wanted to do what it takes until we saw what “successful” looks like.
Not many people who give me advice have lives I want. Almost no one does.
Redefining my own personal meaning for success has been a much more worthwhile endeavor.”
Which a Roylee Walker answered:
“So you basically mean lowering your standards until you are satisfied.”
And Ian retorted:
“No, I mean redefining our own personal meaning of success. Which is what I said.
For me, it meant only competing to be better than the me from yesterday, and no one else. For you, it can mean lowering your standards, and that’s okay.”
A William Albert chimed in:
“We don’t need to be successful, we need to be Happy.”
Hetha Smetha (I wonder if it is really her name) thrown in:
“I’ll take mediocrity…those who want it can have it.”
And others contributed their unremarkable thoughts. Some of them downright stupid but C’est la vie. Me, I learned a lot from listening and shutting my mouth, unless I have something meaningful to say.
And life goes on.
For several years, I had been bored. Not a whining, restless child’s boredom (although I was not above that) but a dense, blanketing malaise. It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.
It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.
And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls.
It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else.
I would have done anything to feel real again.
~ Gillian Flynn