It is almost impossible to see yourself clearly.
When viewing a video of yourself or listening to a recording of your voice, the initial impulse is repulse. You swear you were so much more suave, stylish and interesting. You thought your voice was deeper, sexier, more potent. In these rare glimpses of yourself, your perception and reality clash.
You’ve gained weight only when you see the family photo, not when you look in the mirror. Your ideas are bad because the study group is uneducated, not because your ideas are bad. People don’t get you not because you fail to make yourself clear, but because you are so tragic and interesting.
Trusting others as the arbiter of clarity is equally useless. They see us even less clearly than we see ourselves. That guy who cut you off in traffic is a complex and contradictory man of many qualities and vices, but it is easy to judge him a scoundrel at the moment he’s showing you his middle finger. Your mother’s disapproving henpecking is seen as not a manifestation of her own anxiety but as an insurmountable character flaw. Your lover’s pre-dinner grumbling is a death knell for your relationship, not a moment of depletion.
Judging your worth using the yardstick of ideology is the worst tactic of all. Religions and organizations lay out their expectations in bronze, stone and paper. They shout them from pulpits and corporate emails. Commercials and billboards leave you in no doubt about exactly how you can be seen as a worthy person. It is what they leave out that muddies the water. Is a man still bad if he lies to save feelings? Is it ever okay to do the wrong things for the right reasons? How can we reconcile human impulse with the way everything should be? What if people disagree with the way things should be?
If clarity is impossible then the next thing to do is simply suppose.
Suppose the work is not as brilliant as you think.
Suppose you are better than the world wants you to believe.
Suppose things will go wrong.
Suppose you aren’t giving enough.
Suppose the price may be too high.
Suppose the rules are probably wrong.
Suppose there is a way out.
Suppose the fear is lying.
Suppose it will fail.
Once we allow ourselves to look at the spectrum of what might be going on, what might happen and what has happened in the past, we can shatter our egotistical, fear-based or selfish starting points and push our projects and ourselves in the direction is
should actually go.
Leave a Comment