Asking yourself, “What am I doing when I like who I am?” seems to me to be a more direct way to figure out what you need more of (and what you need less of) in life, regardless of what you think you should need. Often, the healthy, fulfilling things we’ve drifted away from are things whose significance probably wouldn’t occur to us, until we start doing them again and see how much they contributed to our well-being.
Self-improvement imperatives always offer the seductive notion of untapped potential: it’s a bummer to feel like you have to change, but a thrill, sometimes, to imagine that you can. The trouble is that there is no feasible end to this process.
And this, too:
Today, young female professionals have an unprecedented amount of economic and social capital; at the same time, our adulthood has been defined by constant visual self-surveillance, a market-friendly feminism that favors any female acquisitive behavior, and an overwhelming redirection of anxiety into the “wellness” space.
To discard the stuff we’ve acquired is to murder the version of ourselves we envision using it.
Laura Miller in Marie Kondo Will Help You Tidy Your House, Embrace Your Mortality. Cleaning up is hard to do, y’all.
The piles of stuff we might need someday are an argument that we will always be around to need them. The plans to revisit those photos and take up again that course of study, the books we fully intend to finally read assure us that there will be enough time to do so. Mementos presume the ongoing existence of a rememberer. Yes, all of that is a lie, but it’s a necessary lie. And all the joy in the world can’t really compensate for having to let that go.
Cf. “Our unlived lives…”
In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you’re on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.
What I learned from Prince and Muhammad Ali was that it’s possible to love yourself so much that everyone else does, too.
Give your past, present and future selves influence in proportion to what each has earned. Which one of you is working with the most reliable information — about you and nobody else?
When people say, “I’m the kind of person who,” my heart always sinks. These are formulas, we’ve all got about ten formulas about who we are, what we like, the kind of people we like, all that stuff. The disparity between these phrases and how one experiences oneself minute by minute is ludicrous. It’s like the caption under a painting. You think, Well, yeah, I can see it’s called that. But you need to look at the picture.
He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things. In Thebes, in Palmyra, his will and mind have become old and dilapidated as they. He carries ruins to ruins.
They undertake one journey after another and change spectacle for spectacle. As Lucretius says: “Thus ever from himself doth each man flee.” But what does he gain if he does not escape from himself? He ever follows himself and weighs upon himself as his own most burdensome companion.
It really got to me when someone asks what I did for a living and I realized I didn’t have a good answer. And it was just, I don’t know, it was like I’m in my apartment alone all day editing this thing that I’m calling a film but it wasn’t actually a film yet. So yeah, there’s a couple of times where I just gave up and decided I was going to go back and get a job and actually have a good answer to what I did for a living. That was going to be that.
All these people, telling stories about the stories that their things tell about them.
Fear and defensiveness, the architects of so many of our lowest moments.
Our unlived lives–the lives we live in fantasy, the wished-for lives–are often more important to us than our so-called lived lives; we can’t (in both senses) imagine ourselves without them.
In reference to Matt Haughey’s essay:
What could I possibly write as a status update that would be interesting to my father, one of my coworkers from my first job out of college, the friend of a friend who met me at a pub crawl and friended me, and someone who followed me because of a blog post I wrote about technology? This odd assortment of people all friended me on Facebook because they know me, and that doesn’t feel like a natural audience for any content except random life updates, like relationship status changes, the birth of children, job changes, the occasional photo so people know what you look like now. So unlike Haughey, what I struggle with about Facebook is not the constraint to be consistent with a single conception of myself, it’s the struggle to target content to match multiple versions of myself.
The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.
Hang around people who are better than you all the time. You do pick up the behavior of people who are around you. It will make you a better person. Marry upward. That is the person who is going to have the biggest effect on you. A relationship like that over the decades will do nothing but good.
If I can stretch this a bit, they don’t even have to be alive! See Austin Kleon:
The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can’t refuse you as an apprentice. You can learn whatever you want from them. They left their lesson plans in their work.
If you look inward and concentrate only on your own desires all the time, you end up having fun some of the time, but a large amount of the time you’re miserable and another portion of the time you’re bored. I’d rather be attentive and curious all the time so I just keep my eyes and ears open to the world beyond myself.
When the world decided that Lana totally bombed on Saturday Night Life, we could see Lana telling us nothing other than what we already tell ourselves about women in music. We already assume that the feminine is inauthentic. So, I mean, why does everyone care so much if she has had plastic surgery, or if her management company created an image for her? What’s the big deal with being deceived? Some of our most respected musical icons (Bob Dylan, anyone?) used music to continually invent and re-invent possible selves.
See also Nitsuh Abebe:
Making pop music— more than almost any other art— sits right at the intersection between being yourself and finding something better than yourself to be. This, in the end, is what we’re looking for: Someone who can devise some fantastically compelling version of herself to act out, while still seeming as if she’s… being herself. Musicians are expected to write a great part and convincingly act the role at the same time. And even after that, we’re not really judging them on how compelling the identity they’re offering us is— we judge them based on which types of identities we personally need or aspire to at the moment. There is no identity politics quite as nuanced or complicated as people arguing about music.