"Back then I was always looking ahead to who I wanted to be versus who I didn't realize I already was, and the wished-for me was most likely based on who other people seemed to be and the desire to have the same effect on others that they had had on me." - Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist, pg 53
i was in spin class early this afternoon. i was on the bike, waiting for class to start, looking around. i was looking at the instructor, i think, but not really. i wasn't really focused on any particular person. i just looked around and heard my brain go most of the people in here are beautiful. you aren't beautiful, you know that? and a little voice in my head said yes i know that. and my legs kept on spinning and i kept looking around the room and it was a full moments before i realized just how fucked up of a thought i had just had.
i've written before about not feeling beautiful. i wrote a pretty long post about it maybe two/three years ago now and i got a lot of nice feedback from people saying just how wrong i was. and that is great and appreciated. and this isn't a post that is asking for that again...not that the first post was...you get what i mean.
i know that i struggle, like most people, with how i look to other people. and when i say look i mean how i come off to others--physically, mentally, emotionally... and i, like a lot of people, tailor myself to fit in better or come off better. (a friend wrote about this as it concerns to race and it really hit the nail on the head for me in terms of that if you'd like to read). and i, like a lot of people, am often disappointed when my tailoring fails...when i can't escape the truths about myself...when i am stuck being, well, the me i actually am.
the struggle with my body and feeling beautiful is probably the most physicalized of these struggles because it literally has to do with my body. it is the thing you see. it is the thing i walk around in.
what did i even mean on the bike today? was it my belly i was lamenting? or the fact that my afro was particularly shrunken today? or was it my cheeks and the way my teeth appear in my smile? or was it the hairs on my upper lip or my bushy eyebrows that i don't particularly want to do anything about but feel i should? or was it the color of my skin and the fact that i felt invisible in that space? or was it the fact that i kind of wish i was the sort of person who wore lipstick, but also am grossed out by lipstick so...? or was it that i just looked down at my body and was surprise that it was my body i was looking at...like i was suddenly remembering that this is what everyone sees...?
i don't know what i meant. not really. all i know is that it felt true. it felt like something i knew to be true.
and honestly i've been thinking a lot about these things i deep down feel are true. these things that i try to ignore on any given day and at any given moment, but are probably fueling my day-to-day interactions. these things that cause this tailoring to take place.
and i've been realizing that some of these "truths" i hold on to are...really quite detrimental to me. i realize that some of the tailoring i have done or wish i could do is really quite detrimental. there is no point in listing them. my list is probably very similar to the list you have in your own brain give or take a few. or maybe you are past this. maybe you are okay with yourself.
or maybe you, like me, say that you are okay with yourself, but in the quiet of your own mind, you are constantly nitpicking or constantly listing faults or constantly trying to figure out how to change this and that about yourself instead of working with what you've got. and maybe you can see how this has affected you, affected relationships, affected decisions, affected work, affected how you've let others treat you and mistreat you. maybe you think sometimes you're past it all, but then realize you're not. maybe.
and i have been thinking about this because i've been thinking about how i want to be a good partner, friend, family member, collaborator, contributor to society and i keep coming back to the question of how i can expect to be present when fighting myself mentally all the time.
and i am thinking about this more today because i read the princess diarist in less than a day and i've been thinking about the quote above by carrie fisher a lot. i've been thinking about how we are remembered and understood. i've been thinking about mental health and unfairness when it comes to aging. i've been thinking about how we cope. i've been thinking about writing.
19/20 year old carrie fisher and 30 year old charly have a lot more in common than i thought. she writes this in her journal:
I would like to not be able to hear myself think. I constantly hear my mind chattering and jabbering away up there all by itself. I wish it would give me a fucking break. Write, don't think, write. You're not thinking properly, Ms. Fisher, I suggest you write.
i've written a lot about the important of writing for me. writing saves me. writing is the place for my thoughts. often i express myself better when writing as opposed to speaking...and yet writing is also a place where i struggle. i have some pretty-tough-to-take-and-tough-to-break beliefs about my writing. let's just say that while i don't think there is anything else i'd rather do, i sabotage myself and my writing all the time. let's just say that deep down i believe that i am not a voice that is important in this world and, therefore, have no right to success. let's just say that writing, as much as it is a place of solace, is also a place of terror and in-fighting. let's just say i am scared my writing won't ever reach a wider audience, but also am like "well, duh, it won't. why should it?"
and yet, here i am, thoughts on overload and i am writing them down. "you're not thinking properly, ms. simpson, i suggest you write".
anyway, after i got home today, after i took a shower and stared at myself in the mirror, i heard another voice in my head. I don't want to struggle with this anymore.
i don't want to look at myself in the mirror and see only imperfections. i don't even want to see the perfections. i just want to be able to look and say hey body. whats up? are you ready for the day? thank you for shuttling me and my thoughts. i will take care of you because you take care of me.
i don't want to fight myself anymore. i don't want to beat myself up and get beaten by myself. i want to accept and hold on and cherish and relish and work within myself. i want to write because i write and say damn it all to hell if it isn't what others or sometimes even what i think i should be writing. i also want to accept that i am a i'll finish this thing right before the deadline kind of writer. i want to work out because my body feels better when i do not because i hope it looks better when i do. i want to not feel bad about certain hopes and desires i have about the future, i don't want to feel bad about my urge to be an introvert, i don't want to say things i don't agree with, smile when i don't want to, worry that what i say will undermine who you think i am.
i don't want to struggle anymore. i just want to be my fucking self and be okay with it.
so...i realized that while i have resolutions for next year, they all, in some way, connect to this...to ending the fucking struggle and negative talk and just fucking being myself. and yeah, i know this could be an intention every year and every day and maybe it will be mine (i am pretty sure i wrote something similar to this last year...), but i am tired of fighting myself. 2016 took it out of me in more ways than one, but it also showed me how good things can be when i am not fighting myself. so...i'm going to be better about being myself in 2017.
not the person i should be or even could be. not the person you think i am or the person i hope you think i am. just going to be me.
the person i already am.