I spent most of yesterday afternoon reflecting on my previous post, in which I proposed to institute a series of small, but valuable, changes in my daily life. To be more in sync with myself, truer to my own inner urgings and desires. I didn’t expect to publish another post on this topic so soon, as I’d originally intended to follow up with the results of my little experiment. Yet, I found myself yesterday so immersed in the subject, so wholly intellectually engaged in synthesizing all of the information I’ve been learning and in trying to figure out how to apply it (the far trickier part) that I ended up with a brand new and, to me, equally illuminating discussion on my hands. One that gave me an interesting glimpse into my own nature. A snippet that I felt was worth sharing. I’ve formatted this post as a journal entry, since that’s how it was originally written. Scribbled in my notebook.
My dilemma: how to “try” to be myself without “trying.” Being, etc. And yet, to be honest, I’m not sure it’s a great dilemma. My intuition tells me everything will be fine and I am, in actuality, not that far away from achieving a desirable outcome. And that trying too hard would only be counterproductive. But, it’s the intellectual challenge that’s got me fired up now. Like a puzzle I’ve got to solve.
A thought: what will happen if I use the myth angle to my advantage? I am a far more experienced literary critic than I am an amateur psychologist. What if I analyzed myself as a literary work—attempted to identify my own narrative patterns, as I would the narrator or character in a novel? It’s no different from Karen Horney’s Self-Analysis, the examples and case studies of individuals who took notice of their own “trends,” as she calls them, and corrected them. No different from narrative patterns. And, so what if I approached the problem like a writer would and rewrote mine? Not specific behaviors but the underlying narrative itself. Similar to what I did with femininity. And my actions would fall in line.
This idea appeals to me very much. It excites me. This I can do! But where do I start? I have set two main rules for this experiment in authenticity, both inviolable: 1.) I must listen to my inner urgings and abide by them, regardless of the situation, and 2.) I cannot discount or dismiss my natural inclinations on the basis of their being “unacceptable” by perceived external standards.
So, I ask myself again, at what point do I begin this change-making process once I’ve exposed the underlying narrative(s)? It is about the intellectual challenge now. If, say, I truly wanted to transform myself into a new woman, where would I start? My intellect tells me that I begin, naturally, by attempting to rewrite my story according to an ideal. Who would I like to be, and what actions do I need to take to get there? But I’m not excited about this. My intuition tells me it won’t work. And another, much quieter, voice says this: “Buy new makeup.” Did I just think that? “Buy new makeup.” Clearly, I am trying to distract myself from the task at hand by indulging in frivolities. And then I remember my cardinal rule: Do not discount any of your natural inclinations.
So, I sit with it for a moment. Yes, that’s exactly right. I start by buying new makeup. How can I expect to become a new woman if I don’t feel like a new woman first? And in fact, this must be the first step. Not the second, not the third, not a makeover to reward myself for successfully changing my behavior. Because I cannot even think—not even conceive—of entertaining actionable goals until I feel the part. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Not until the lipgloss has been purchased and the toes have been pedicured. Then, I am armed for battle. And I can engage holistically in all the necessary acts of becoming. If I am going to change my life, I have got to change my makeup first.
But this all sounds slightly absurd. And yet my intuition tells me I’ve just done good.