Pluma Migrant Writers Guild. "Write to be heard."
I’ve just read Taming the Mammoth, another fantastic manual-for-life article by Tim Urban. In it he talks about learning to quieten the neurosis about level of social acceptance and the joys of being authentic instead. It inspired me to write this long overdue post about who I really am. First up though I’ll describe the experience of reading his post and another similar event.
Of all things, a few months ago I came across Kathy Caprino and loved it. What I did was the ‘6 days to a Happier Career!’ challenge. You can sign up for it too with your email address in the box on the right here. A part of this exercise was going through my achievements, thoroughly listing all of the significant ones in my life to date. I’d never done such an exercise – but up until then, every now and again, the need to do it would surface in my mind. I don’t know if it’s the type of person I am or the endless trudge of low level crap that easily draws my mind down into a low level view on life, but I had gotten to the point where it had been a long time since I’d allowed myself to be proud. Indeed, it had become a habit to always talk down my achievements, to avoid acknowledging and celebrating them. I think it’s important not to be an egotistical boar, so I’m kind of sort of happy with this. Then again, though, life quickly becomes not worth living without being serious about properly being proud when necessary.
So, at the risk of sounding like an insufferable boasting so and so, I can say I gained a hell of a lot of satisfaction doing that exercise. Hell, you can do it yourself without going through the full 6 day exercise (I don’t blame you if it sounds like a bunch of new age/feminist/feel good/self help hooey).
What was the main benefit of all this? I saw that it was more than ok, it was awesome, to be me. This made me feel completely comfortable and rightful about being authentic. There was nothing wrong with me, in fact I realised some of the things I’ve done others will want to learn from. Some will be jealous of who I am and what I have done. It was very gratifying to feel this way after a long time of feeling like nothing, or not even reflecting on what I am compared to others. I should say I’ve spent a lot of my life losing the comparison-with-others battle and am happy to say that after a lot of hard work and patience I’ve, well, beaten the cool kids in the playground. I couldn’t really give a shit if that sounds juvenile. It’s just kind of a wicked feeling and makes me feel proud that little striving me, way back from when I was about 11 until probably 27, actually had something good coming and he finally got there.
As I was saying, I just read Taming the Mammoth. The mammoth is Urban’s device for illustrating the influence of our estimation of what others think of us, all the time. God damn it that one is a bitch. We’re ruled by it. Important people in our lives, like our parents and teachers, are also ruled by it. Popular people are ruled by it. Many of the authority figures in our lives are ruled by it and we let their opinion of us be part of that mammoth, along with all the other ways we tailor the mammoth to make our lives a specially, intricately crafted hell of a battle for acceptance. The thrust of the article is fuck the acceptance, trust what you feel and know about yourself and go and do it. Trust that this will call in its wake a respect and appreciation from others which is rarely gained through a neurotic obsession with satisfying what we think we know they want us to be.
Forget it, just be yourself, enjoy the position of leadership this puts you in, and get on with the mission your talents and whims possess you with.
So then, I promised you something at the start. I promised to say who I really am. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a culture vulture. I am a theatre nut. I am a radical. There is no getting away from it. I have tried to conceal it, to ignore it, to pretend I have other talents. I unsuccessfully denied my lack of aptitude for psychology, and paid the heavy price of burnout after 10 months doing a torturous job. The irony of it being psychology is not lost on me, and makes the overall point all the more … pointed. Then I chose to just essentially learn an intellectual trade, geographic information systems. This is something I can go through the motions with to earn good money, but that’s about it. The means of earning good fealings with it are out of my reach. I’ve known this since halfway through my degree, but competitiveness made me finish. The same competitiveness which pushed me through my psych degree after knowing it wasn’t for me beyond first year. Or is it really this respectable idea, competitiveness? Like I’m some trooper gonna win every battle cos I’ve got more grit? No, it was my mammoth, telling me I’d be socially accepted,
Well, yay. I’ve done that twice now and have come to the same conclusion as last time. This isn’t me. This is exactly what I knew it was. A means to an end doing some intellectual labour with my decent brain and organisation abilities.
People have always said I’m good at writing. I’ve always held back from pursuing it though as I wanted a skill that would yield insights which I could then write about in an interesting way. Well I have a couple of those now, I know how to run psychology experiments and make spatial things. Hell, I’m even a published author in a science journal as you can see in that first link. I’ve never felt so twatish and egotistical saying that but who cares. My point is that I’m over this thing of pretending like writing isn’t a passion of mine. That it shouldn’t be a regular activity. Outlet. I’m going to start having fun now, like the last post where I used my awareness of a couple of topical maps regarding the recent EU refugee issue to shine a light on things. To encourage people to look at our divided world, properly.
I guess all of this is easier to say because I’ve ‘made it’. I’m grateful for that. But either way it was going to happen. This never gets old:
One more for good measure:
May you cause equal levels of disruption should you choose to use your Voice.