Archives for posts with tag: be real

I woke with a headache and a stuffy head. A cold? Allergies? I’m not certain. Already there is uncertainty creeping into the day. I’m dealing with arthritis pain today, too, but… I’m not sure whether it is because the weather is chilly, or for some other reason. More uncertainty. I’m working through the final week at this job, ready to step into a role in a new place – there’s certainly (lol) no certainty about what that future experience will hold. Perspective matters; my sense of “certainty” is quite often simply a choice to favor one way of viewing circumstances over another, not really anything to do with what I do or don’t actually know. What do I even actually “know” with legitimate certainty? What do you “know”? How did you test and verify that knowledge? Or… did you simply sip it up with a cognitive straw based on what someone else said they “know”, and you’ve chosen to be fine with that? I mean… I can’t judge harshly on that. We all do it. Might be good to do that less, though…

I sit in a rainy forest, along a wet dirt road, near a puddle, listening to the rain fall, thinking things over… Well, not really… it’s a video, and a moment of reflection over coffee, is all. It’s “not real”… I mean, in the sense that I am not actually there. It’s quite real, inasmuch as it is a video of a real place and time. So… Moving on with the uncertainties…

I’d planned to walk the trail, but the park is still closed after the recent storms.

There’s a work day ahead. I also need to run to the store. These things feel “certain”. I mean, they’ll definitely happen, right? There are still a ton of assumptions that go into that carefully crafted feeling of certainty. I turn it over in my head, admiring my handiwork; that’s some careful craftwork, there. I feel comfortable with it, as “reality” goes. I’ll likely make choices and take actions that lead to those things coming to pass, more or less as expected.

…Expectations… Assumptions…

I breathe with the timer on my desktop, listening to the rain fall. In spite of my stuffy head, and in spite of my pain, and in spite of “life’s uncertainties” – which is, like, everything to do with living life – I feel pretty okay right now. That is a reality I can definitely embrace.

…Of course, I’ve still got to begin again. My results will continue to vary. All of that is okay, too. I’m just practicing. 😉

Well… still human. I checked. lol

The path is not always smooth, paved, nor well-lit. We each walk our own hard mile – often doing so while assuming everyone else “gets it”. Truth is, though, sometimes we’re not even sharing the same language, or going the same direction. Taking that personally is just an extra – and unnecessary – “fuck you” that we invent and deliver… to ourselves. Unnecessary. Doing better is complicated sometimes.  Awareness. Non-attachment. Letting go of small shit. So many verbs. Practices to practice. Not taking things personally is hard sometimes. We have assumptions, expectations, and beliefs, all getting in the way of clear-headed-ness, and tripping us up in vulnerable, meaningful, important moments. What a mess.

Sometimes “human” is complicated, and a little weird; I just now noticed I am writing with my glasses off. This makes no fucking sense. I can’t see without them. LOL There’s a metaphor there.

I put my glasses on. Sip my coffee contentedly. From the vantage point of this morning, right here? This path is just fine. 🙂 Maybe I just needed to put on my glasses. 😉

“Do you.”

“Be who you are.”

“Be yourself.”

“Be real.”

If we’re struggling to know ourselves, it follows that being ourselves comes with an obvious challenge; we may only be trying things on for size, exploring our options, or even (and often) terrified by the potential that we may be wrong about it. Uncomfortable – and in our discomfort, and insecurities about “who we think we are”, we lose our way, and potentially become a composite of other people’s values, notions, and assumptions of who we are – some tidied up caricature of who we most want to be, perhaps, or worse, in the struggle to resist, we remake ourselves as monsters. Yikes.

Is it enough to “be who we are”, if we’re not sure about who that is, exactly? Is there an alternative that doesn’t require fakery or bullshit? How do I “become my best self” – and who is that? 56 years old and still, sometimes, wondering who I want to be when I “grow up”. It’s not a process that has a clear conclusion, ideally; I will strive to be that woman I most want to be, until the day I stop being, having become, in that final moment, only a collective of deeds – and memories. No “finish line” – and it’s not a race, more a walk in the countryside. When we’re fortunate, our journey is well-lit, paved, and we’ve got company along the way, and maybe a sense of direction. Less fortunate travelers walk a harder path; it’s dark out there, the way is not paved, at all, there’s no map, and we wander, confused, alone, and feeling wholly fucked over. There’s a lot of options in between – variations in the human experience.

I’m sipping my morning coffee, and thinking about mortality. 🙂 Oh, I’m not feeling gloomy, or down, nor am I obsessing over the details, just very much aware that even this will pass. All of it. I’ll “move on”, not necessary to anything else, perhaps this truly is all there is? I can’t know that in advance – that’s part of the challenge – and I personally choose not to attempt to fill that uncertainty with any sort of conviction about the unknown. It will be what it is, when that time comes, right? Whether I face it with inquisitive openness and curiosity, or with an assumption built on faith and assumptions, it will, reliably, be only what it actually is, in fact. We’ll see when we get there. Or, um, not. lol Sorry – I’m not prone to existential angst, and if you are, this prosy nonsense about whatever the hell may or may not be on the other side of life could be stressful. My bad. Please forgive me – let’s move on. 😉

We’re mortal creatures, that’s my point.

Being my authentic self got tested yesterday. Work stuff. I had a moment, as an adult, to live my values, speak my truth to power, be as frankly and honestly the woman I am, without compromise, in a work scenario that would previously have provoked me to mold myself to the moment, and to try to be who I perceived myself as expected to be. Reasonable enough; people do that all the time. Compromise. Small compromises in values justified as “choosing our battles” or “not starting shit” can so easily lead to becoming a shell of a human being, feeling disconnected, closed off, “not heard” (because we’re not speaking our truth in the first place), and even ashamed – once the dust settles –  of whatever the outcome turns out to be. I don’t want that for myself. 🙂 I went home feeling… clean. Satisfied. “Legit.” I felt whole, empowered, and inspired; I was heard, accepted, and valued. Well… so, yeah, that made it easy, didn’t it?

It’s much harder not to cave to social pressures when we are not accepted, not valued, and dismissed or diminished, instead of heard. It’s not up to chance, though, and I made specific choices to refrain from making assumptions about the outcome of necessary conversations, and chose to simply prepare for the moment in an authentic away – relying heavily on experience, professional knowledge, and trust that my values – and the convictions I hold that are built on those – would be enough. No panic. No “presentation” building. No “controlling the narrative” – and frankly, I’m pretty good at conversation. 😀

…I even managed an entire 45 minutes of conversation without interrupting. lol

This morning, I sip my coffee, smiling, listening to music, looking forward to brunch, and feeling something I guess I can call “proud of myself”… or, maybe… “inspired”? I am even excited to return to work on Monday, which actually feels pretty strange, I gotta say; I’m not generally “about that”. lol It’s not that I don’t enjoy the work I do… it’s more that it definitely feels like a job that takes time away from my lifetime. Time I could – and would – so easily use differently for myself, were I a woman of means on that order of magnitude. I’m not. I work. That’s just real. 🙂

Being our most authentic self is challenging at work. Challenging in relationships that are precious to us – particularly if we feel insecure about the relationship… or who we are. A few years ago, I opted out of most relationships in my life that felt insecure, or which seemed to hold an element of investment in my worst self. Easier than trying to force some other human being to be a different person than they are, I learned to understand that (as with any work team) “fit” matters – and not all human beings are “a good fit” for friendship, romance, partnership, casual fun, lunch out… so many humans to choose from, why would I spend time struggling to force any one relationship to be something it isn’t? Those choices definitely served to make authenticity easier. That just leaves managing the work piece – and the “being out in the world” piece.

Random interactions with strangers. Right. Those, too. There are expectations of how we behave socially. Being my best self doesn’t require me to be inauthentic – but it may require me to change, to grow, or to choose differently than I might, if I were left utterly on my own, feral, undeveloped, un-socialized, and without context. lol There are choices to be made, every social moment. Kindness or cruelty? Compassion or callousness? Patient or angry? Polite or rude? Distant or intimate? Quiet or talkative? Chill or anxious? Rushed or relaxed? So many choices. Who am I?

Who are you?

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.” That’s real. When I am “my own person”, living my life in an authentic way, the people who enjoy my company are enjoying “the real me”, and my social circle, over time, fills with those people. Other people walk on. Letting them go is a natural fit – no need to fight it. Easier not to, too.

Today, this moment, feels easy and relaxed. My coffee is nearly gone. It’s a lovely morning that looks like a hot day to come. I sip my hot coffee grateful for air conditioning. My Traveling Partner went back east to see family – during a heat wave. I frown sympathetically, and ineffectively, at my monitor, when I think about that. I’m sure not going to bitch to him about 86 degrees, when we next speak. 😀 I finish my coffee, and jot down a quick list of things to do today; I like being prepared, when I begin again. 😀

 

An ordinary enough Spring morning. I’m sipping coffee. Minutes are ticking by. The cool dawn air fills the apartment. My fingers click rhythmically on the keyboard. Traffic swooshes by, beyond the driveway. I am considering the “blank page” in front of me – both actually, on this monitor, and metaphorically, this day ahead of me.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

Yesterday’s work day was productive, and felt… short. Very short. The evening that followed was delightful, connected, and relaxed. I slept well. I woke easily, just minutes ahead of the alarm clock, feeling rested. This cup of coffee tastes delicious. My clothes feel quite comfortable. Given this context, the fact that I feel content, merry, and relaxed, this morning, is no particular surprise, right?

This gets me thinking about context, generally. When I find myself feeling miserable for one reason (or many), it changes my outlook on everything that touches my experience. I tend to take more things personally when I am in pain, for example, even though there’s no direct connection between the physical experience of pain, and other qualities of other experiences. It colors my mood, and thus, colors my perception of my experience. If my mood, itself, can alter the way I see my experience, and if the experiences I have in life have the potential to alter my mood… is this a trap – or an opportunity? I used to feel it was a sort of sick joke, and emotional Catch-22 wherein, no matter what, the outcome was always that life sucked. One way or another, I was back to misery, pretty inevitably.

Mindfulness practices, and specifically meditation, unraveled that “trap” – turns out I set that trap myself, and caught myself regularly, fair and square. lol I did most of that to me. I mean, sure, I learned all of it somewhere, but that is so much less significant (for me) than the idea that I built that trap, maintained it with great care (and many verbs), and resisted treated myself any better for a long time with the sort of will and commitment that one generally sees from the eager or ambitious. Sort of scary, looking back, how very skillfully done all that was, and how ferociously I protected myself from any sort of healing progress, for so long. Choices.

Context matters. Where am I right now? Am I okay, right now? How do I feel? Pulling my awareness to this present moment, again and again, and allowing the bullshit narratives to fall away until I am only this human being, breathing in this moment, uncomplicated by assumptions, expectations, and clinging to what is not, there is so much less misery in my experience. This helps me sort out random frustrations, hurt feelings, poorly managed fury, dark days, weird sorrows – nearly all that mess is just made up bullshit, and I can choose differently. It’s often about context. The assumptions I make about this or that detail (or person) really fill it out and make it seem so real. It generally isn’t. I giggle, imagining a world in which everyone around us was truly the embodiment of my assumptions, my thoughts about them, instead of being who and what they actually are.

When I allow others around me to be who they are, without my assumptions and expectations clinging to me, them, or the connection we share, I can also relax and let go of any ludicrous notion about changing them, or fixing them, and just enjoy (or not) who they are, themselves. I can be who I am, too. We can share that time together authentically, and maybe even learn things from each other, and grow. If I’m clinging to a golem built of my assumptions and suppositions about them, filtered through my experience of life and projected onto them, we aren’t even really together, are we? I’m just hanging out with a different version of myself. lol It’s also much easier to be open to people, letting them be them, staying firmly “me”, myself… fewer verbs needed to be real, than to shore up an image.

Context… and authenticity. Perspective. Consideration. Awareness. Presence. All good words for a Tuesday… I think I’ll go out there into the world, with a handful of words, and a gentle heart. It’s a good beginning. 🙂

I admit I love the increasing cultural encouragement to embrace our authentic selves that I see popping up everywhere, often in the form of a response to some thing or other, phrased as “do you”. I like that. Definitely. Do you. Be you. Invest in you. Grow your brand – and your self. Explore who you are. All that sounds pretty awesome, and very supportive and encouraging… but…

…It also sounds “too easy”. I know, I know. Authenticity is actually pretty fucking daring, even now, and it requires self-awareness, self-compassion, openness, honesty on this whole other level a lot of people are not prepared for, and a willingness to let go of attachment to our own assumptions about who we in fact our, when those conflict with who we in fact are. It’s not actually easy to be our authentic selves in a culture built on controlling people through their insecurities, fears, and doubts. It’s even… brave. There’s still another “but” to move beyond…

…It’s also not enough to just drift in a sea of our own filth and basic bullshit. It’s not really the ideal “do you” scenario, is it? To just… stall in life and make no attempt to become the person we most want to be? To just… rest, assume the most slack possible approach to the question “who am I?”, and just… not bother doing more or being better? I mean… aren’t we capable of more?

This morning I am thinking about what it means to “do me” and how I can become the woman I most want to be. I know there are choices to make. There are verbs involved. I know my results with vary. I know that being authentic – truly frank and real – with the human being in the mirror has to come first, and be reliably a thing I do for myself, without fail. I know I have more questions. More opportunities. More chances to begin again.

I guess I’ll get started on that now… 😉