I Am TheUsedLife.

I rather enjoy being an anonymous blogger. Aside from the tiny handful of you who know me in real life and the one or two other bloggers to whom I have divulged my first name, no one knows me. I am the woman behind the experiment. Writing from somewhere, usually, in the United States. The voice behind the awkward girl on the tightrope or the woman walking with the transparent umbrella (below). Truth be told–as I was saying to a coworker just the other day, after announcing that I had decided to put The Used Life on Instagram–I would never want to market this project with my face. It doesn’t feel right. I, I declared with the firmest imaginable conviction, am TheUsedLife! I am going to self-publish a collection of my meditations on the feminine, and it will be authored by (written precisely this way, but in a decidedly more appropriate font) theusedlife. I have updated my About page and, with a bit of trepidation, referred to myself in the third person, as TheUsedLife. Writer who garners her greatest inspiration from psychology. Who is passionate about giving form to inner experiences and giving voice to a multitude of complex states of being. Who seeks to fuse the personal and the theoretical, or the scientific. Self-proclaimed Master of None. I am TheUsedLife. 

It’s not the name of my blog. It’s not a side gig. It’s not a hobby (and I am so, so very tired of my habit of treating it like one). It’s me. The Used Life is the place where I can do work that I love. Where I can say what I think the way I want to say it. Where I can immerse myself in the ultimate quest for self-expression. A place where I am never bored. Where I am genuinely lighthearted. Where I can look forward. Where possibility is always in sight. Where I can Be, with a capital “B”.

I suspect creative folks generally, and especially, need a place like this. A place for retreat when the burdens of everyday living become too much to bear. When we yearn for balance. For nothing more than to strip ourselves of the masks we wear, day in and day out, for the sake of safety, of comfort, of practicality, of being liked or wanted. When we’re looking for the courage to fuse that all-too-powerful need for self-expression with other spheres of our lives and need a space to plan, to experiment, to morph. To step out of ourselves, at least for awhile.

strange girl in the rain

I am TheUsedLife. I realize that I am angry. That this decision was prompted not by some soft-and-feely form of esteem I’ve developed for this project, but because I myself am restless. I’m mad. I’m mad at myself. Mad that I haven’t made pursuing my own, highest goals my top priority. Mad that I’ve gotten comfortable with my routines, including those which keep this project a hobby of sorts. Mad at the sacrifices I make, daily, to fit into my environment and to make other people happy. Discreet–and often not-so-discreet–everyday words and behaviors. When I say what I think other people want to hear. When I only half-express myself. When I dumb down my passions and my intellect for the sake of getting along. I betray myself at every turn. And, I can feel it.

That’s what I’ve been giving up by not being TheUsedLife. Growth. Living in accord with my highest values. I’ve been holding on. Playing it safe. Refusing to shed some of my own skin. In real life, I have been cowardly. I’ve been impoverishing my own spirit. And, I know it. And, it makes me want to set the world on fire. I am TheUsedLife. I don’t usually write posts like this one. But, I can’t spend as much time as I do reading the likes of Abraham Maslow and Rollo May–intellectuals who inspire me, whose work fuels my passions and feeds my soul–and refuse to be moved by what they say. Moved by what I already know to be true. I can’t deceive myself into believing that I’ll reach my highest potential by thinking and not doing.

My esteem for Maslow cannot be overstated. He is a stunningly compassionate, deep, and original thinker. Though, a spitfire, to be sure. (I’ve ordered his journals, and I cannot wait to read them.) Put simply, he makes me want to help other people bring out the best in themselves. He says of those for whom creativity is lifeblood, those who would sacrifice even basic needs for the satisfaction of what he believed to be a manifestation the highest, those who, by all appearances, reversed the proposed order of his hierarchy:

There are other, apparently innately creative people in whom the drive to creativeness seems to be more important than any other counter-determinant. Their creativeness might appear not as self-actualization released by basic satisfaction, but in spite of lack of basic satisfaction. – A.H. Maslow

starlight

To be creative is often to walk a path of misunderstanding. It is to be deemed irresponsible, careless, flighty and sometimes impractical. It is to be driven by a different set of needs and values than almost everyone else you know. To be impelled by a force from within–by a calling, or a sense of self–that is altogether too strong. You’ve got to be, to enact, that which you can imagine, no matter how much time it takes, no matter how much work it requires. Because no alternative will ever be good enough. It’s a kind of death for someone who is, perhaps, a little too much alive. To be expected to live by and understand other people’s rules is one of the most baffling–and the most maddening–struggles you’ll ever have to face. And, when the pressure to conform is too strong, your choices are to either rage against it–to go boldly forward in the face of all obstacles–or to give up. But, giving up–if, in fact, you can sacrifice being yourself, in all of your strangeness, for any length of time–is a forfeiture of the most glorious part of your identity. That’s a fact. If you were to ask me how many times in my life I have turned my back on comfort, on certainty, on stability for the sake of creativity–the most powerful synonym I know for authenticity–I would say several. If you were to ask me how many times I have been called irresponsible for doing so, I would say, every single time. If you were to ask me if I’d do it all again, I’d say, yes. If you were to ask what I would give in order to be myself creatively–to be fully TheUsedLife in every sphere of my life–in all of her chaos, her impracticality, and her weirdness–I would say, everything. I would say, absolutely fucking everything.

20 thoughts on “I Am TheUsedLife.

    1. Sure! Until I started reading him myself, I only knew of the hierarchy, too, but there is a great deal more to his thinking. “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature” is excellent. So is “Toward a Psychology of Being.” Hope you enjoy. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I loved this. I don’t know how many more of us Maslow devotees are out there but it’s always good to know i’m not alone. Many years ago I made the decision to live creatively and since then I’ve never looked back. It’s the only way I know to live. There is a character in the movie “Mission to Mars” who I believe sums it up pretty well “to stand on a new world and look beyond it to the next one”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes! It is nice to meet other Maslow fans. It really is too bad he isn’t more popular. He has so much to offer beyond the hierarchy that’s generous and insightful. In my own life, I see myself standing on the precipice of change. I believe I know what changes I need to make. I just need to make them. Thank you for the encouraging comment. I am glad you enjoyed the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post! That last paragraph is so powerful and I agree with every word of it and to have this kind of thinking and awareness in your youth (well compared to me in my 50s) is quite astonishing. Creativity is authenticity – love this. I have one book of Maslow’s (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature), and I was very surprised by him – I loved it and his take on creativity and the needs for creatives to do their work as a matter of survival. I think somehow I’ll reading more of him now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lynne! I, too, loved “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.” And, I was surprised by him, also. I had no idea how much more there was to Maslow’s thinking beyond the hierarchy. Lol I look at this phase in my life as a kind of “early mid-life crisis.” But, in truth, whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or older, most people never seek this kind of self-knowledge. We are all the better for it, regardless of age. Happy reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I sometimes wonder if you have been ’tuning into my brainwaves’ before you write some of your posts. Of course I mean that jokingly – in that sometimes you seem to write something at just the right time – something that I can relate to, and have been recently thinking about myself. Feeling the pull to live by someone else’s rules, to conform, not doing what I ‘should’ be doing in the eyes of others, really starts to get on my nerves sometimes. I get tired of explaining over and over again to people that I require – not desire – a lot of time to myself. Not a few minutes or hours, here and there – but days. It takes time to really discover who we are, and the noise of others can get in the way. Thanks for your post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, it gets on my nerves, too! I get surly having explain to people why I don’t want to do things their way, or why my priorities are different, or why/how I see possibility or opportunity in situations they don’t. I agree about needing to spend time alone, too. Why, I wonder, do so many people dislike being alone? I like it. A lot. Me and my books. That’s when all the magic happens. It is so good to know you go through these kinds of cycles, too. I don’t know about you, but I’m over it. 😎

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A modo de comentario, después de leer ‘I am the used life’ frente al Mediterráneo.

    Cálmate que todo está llegando siempre, el pánico de los precipicios y la estela de los cálices. Siéntate y escucha el rumor de mar que acorrala la tarde, cómo se mueven las ramas de la higuera y caen, ya secos, sus frutos sobre el césped. Siéntate y entorna tus ojos, abre ahora las pupilas para ver cómo de la edad sale huyendo la esperanza. Siéntate y hazte tangible para que surja tu palabra escondida en un texto sin palabras. Tu voz redime el mundo.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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