Of course, the corresponding question has to be “What does it mean to really know yourself?” I had to ask this today after re-visiting The Artist’s Way, and I’ve mentally blanked more and more often on the exercises and tasks that come up each week. So many of the questions to reflect on regard wishes, dreams, my childhood thoughts, wishes, dreams, and beyond “I wanna be a teacher when I grow up,” I can’t really recall too much.
The great philosopher, Lloyd Dobbler, said something that I wish had been okay by the time I graduated high school. It’s my truth to an extent. I just wish I had seen Say Anything… when I was in high school so I could’ve realized it was okay not to be totally locked into your career plan. Being that flexible might’ve taught me something about myself a helluva lot sooner.
One of my biggest weaknesses is trying to understand things by reading books, even though I know deep down that you can’t learn everything out of a book. It’s kinda my default position, my ignorance makes me stressed and even though I don’t really know what’s going on, maybe books can help me find better information elsewhere, or know what to ask when I’m unaware.
I am one of those weird research hounds, interested in everything. I can find or recommend crazy-good research material for history papers or good books for students to use for book reports. I can dig up good articles on the campus microfiche (and teach others how to use it) and go through that database like nobody’s business. I can talk about naval battles with other navy nuts and give obscure facts about World War II, movements, battles, or recommend great podcasts for more info (insert plug for Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History here…oh, wait, I just did–hee hee).
But I usually can’t tell you what I did last night (if anything), what I had for breakfast this morning (without real thought), or my goals, wishes, and dreams. When it comes to myself, I’m spectacularly ignorant.
That’s what scares me, because I have heard my whole life about knowing thyself, but what does it really mean to me? I’ve read pages and pages on emotional intelligence, about meditation, the self, and finding your real purpose and all in life. You can probably picture me the way I see me each time, grasping the open book, seeing the pages before me with an anxious look on my face because I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do with all that information.
It’s probably not that surprising that I may be overly-concerned about all this, but some of you have seen my comments on your own feeds expressing my ignorance about myself in some way shapes or forms. I want to be a better person, to know what I’m really capable of and where I was so I know where to go. I can’t even remember my childhood with much decency.
All throughout my years, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and didn’t really do or say anything to suggest otherwise. But I’ve had my hobbies and interests, and wanted to write while in school. I got pretty good at creative writing and wish I could’ve taken it every year. I was geared toward teaching, and that was my shtick. I wasn’t really aware of how to make a living writing, and I didn’t think I was that good, so I buried it. (My About Me page says a lot more on that, so I won’t repeat it).
So, it makes me wonder if maybe I already know myself, but I don’t know that I know that. Huh…okay, that’s a bit of a brain-squeezer. The more pessimistic part of me is thinking that now that I’m up to “Plan F” or “Plan G” for my career and life by now, perhaps this is who I am: a totally self-ignorant screw-up and I have to accept that. Well, that’s what was going through my head yesterday, when I was in my worst dumps since the Election and panicking about the state of my finances and life.
But I woke up today with a much brighter outlook, and an odd, geeky way of looking at it. It hit me this morning that if I could compare myself to a fictional film character, it would be V’Ger. I have definitely don’t have the knowledge of the universe in the noggin, but lots of info from schooling and books (mostly history and fiction oriented). I never plan to or want to stop learning. And, I need to evolve. My self-knowledge has definite limits. And to quote another great philosopher, Mr. Spock, “Logic and knowledge are not enough.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if my logic needed an upgrade, too.
I can be fanciful, so I have that idea down pretty well, but regarding myself and my purpose in life, I do not know where to start or know myself at all. I hope like hell my pessimism isn’t right and that my destiny (whatever the hell that is) is to never finish anything or be successful.
I don’t know what my strengths and weaknesses are, and I have so many interests that I cannot realistically work on them all with any degree of thoroughness. I have worked on writing (and am still working on making writing every day a habit–offline), and have recently found a renewed love of painting. However, I don’t know how far I can get on either of those pursuits when I haven’t had the training and formal instruction to be a writer for publication or a painter. I haven’t the slightest clue whether my work would have any sort of demand or appreciation, if I’m fooling myself or actually doing what I was always intended to do.
I can’t afford to do any schooling or art workshops (though heaven knows I’d love to) and never know where to start. I have ideas, but as far as making them work, as far as seeing them from an artistic eye…I don’t know if I’m capable. All I know is that as much as I (usually) enjoy teaching, I want to do more than that…and not just for the sake of a paycheck.
I need to know if I can actually take care of myself. My dad may not care about me living at home forever, but dammit–I need to know myself, that I am capable of being successful on my own terms, whatever that may be.
Perhaps that’s what makes knowing myself difficult–I don’t even know if what I can do is worth it or enough. If all I do is mediocre, how can I know what to improve on and make a living at? How do I know myself? More than that, how do I know WHEN I know myself?
I have yet to hear/see anyone describe themselves as perfectly mediocre, and perfectly okay with that. I damn well don’t want to be the first.