Before I start: this is leading somewhere – I promise. I’ve had the opportunity over the past little while to do some thinking, of the soul searching sort (18 hours in a car will do that to you), about who I am and who I would like to be perceived as.
‘Perceived as’ is the key phrase here. One of my recent realizations is that I’ve lived almost my entire life, not just the adult bits, with the largest part of my consideration fixed on how people will perceive me. My initial reaction, as a reasonably intelligent woman, was to tell myself that I ought to fix that – that I should live my life for myself, and not care what others think. I am my own woman, right?
But here’s the rub – my career’s all about setting attainable goals. That is, goals that provide a significant challenge, but still fall within the scope of what I could realistically potentially achieve. Out of that came the determination that, rather than work against something that is so ingrained in my basic make-up, I could work with it – use it to my advantage, to create a future and a self that I wanted, by activating that inborn desire to please in a positive manner.
Nature versus nurture’s all well and good, but I can’t accept that I don’t get a say in this whole thing.
It’s far more fashionable to demurely state one’s failings than it is to confidently own up to their strengths. On that theme, I’m perfectly capable of rattling off a list of my less attractive qualities, all stoic and such. But when it comes to virtues, there’s a deep discomfort; a deep and honest belief that anyone within earshot will write me off as a braggart.
I am not, at present, the kind of person I’d admire. That’s an uncomfortable thing to realize at 25, when I’m supposed to be a grown-up; a contributing member of society. I’m not a bad person – let’s just say I’m mostly inoffensive. This was not, believe it or not, my life’s goal…to be a sort of human equivalent of oatmeal (for the record: I like oatmeal, and I wish Quaker would sell the cinnamon spice flavour outside of the mixed box). However, (my mom says) I’ve always been a late bloomer.
I admire people who strike up a conversation in line for coffee without feeling awkward. I admire people who smile on the street, look people in the eye and wilfully ignore the kind of tunnel vision we’re somehow expected to have as urbanites. I admire people who don’t put off painting their toenails for a week before getting around to it, and who file their papers away neatly. I admire people who are energetic at the end of the workday, who don’t jump to conclusions and who withhold judgment, who are simply themselves regardless of situation or company.
To be clear: I do think I have admirable traits. I’m an optimist. My preference for consuming music on vinyl, my fine sense of the ridiculous and my stubborn determination to believe the best of people are good things, I think. The point here isn’t to talk about how I’m a wasteful sack of skin (ew). I’m just sort of basking in awareness – it’s fresh, and feels nice.
I’ve got these lofty hopes that being consistently aware of the whole concept will somehow translate into an evolution in that direction. I’m in the enviable position of having it good, life-wise, right now. To me, that’s the time to strive to better myself, rather than when I’m occupied in scraping myself off of some catastrophe (which is inevitable, this being life). To my mind, it’s the first ball I need to get rolling in my whole ‘community’ objective – more on that to come.