Who I am

who-am-iI tend to make old mistakes, again and again. Sometimes I think it’s because they are less scary than making new ones. One of them is trying to find out ‘who I am’.

I try to blend in with the culture I blame for my twisted thoughts, my presumptions, my obsessions. Like a chameleon I change my dress sense every time I change environment; nonchalant, hippie, sexy, feminine, outdoorsy, there is no end. And none of them are me, yet all of them are. Who am I? How do I dress/behave/feel to express my original self? Who even cares besides me?

I have my coffees in cafes that allow my laptop as a canvas for my futile attempts to poetry and thought trains that go in circles. No one really needs to read my verbal excretions, but god I do need to get it out of my system. But when I try to be a writer, a poet I fail. ‘what would I have to do, what should the quality be for me to BE this thing?’ When can I honestly say to people ‘yes, I write’. The question itself castrates me, and everything I’m trying to verbalise freezes into other people’s words and writing styles. I get stuck in writing the thing I think you might want to read. I get stuck in trying to portray myself as smart, clever, sympathetic, strong, optimistic, all-knowing.

I’ve had many jobs and job-titles, have moved around in different cities, different countries and never found myself in any of them. I think I wanted to be something/someone but could never find the right setting to become that person. I looked for other settings, without really knowing what it was that I wanted to be. ‘If If find the right setting, will I then automatically and finally become ‘me’?’

So there is the old questions: ‘Who am I, who do I want to be?’. And I’m growing to dislike this question because the answer is always going to be crap. I don’t want to be a manager or an employee of the month,  not a lady or a rebel, not a servant or a mistress, not promiscuous or a saint. And at the same time I want to be all of these things every now and then. But why should I aspire to be things I can define myself by with just one word?

If I NEED to define myself as something, in order for me to know how I am supposed to behave, what does this mean if I become sick, or poor or depressed. If this means that I can only be one or two things at a time (and include the appropriate behaviour) it could then mean that my whole being could be defined as sick, poor or depressed. I think this would not be helpful in any way.  I think a better alternative to this would be to perceive myself as a (complex, ever-developing, emotional) person and maybe suffer from these things every now and then.

If I feel like I need to behave a certain way because I decided that this definition is ‘me’, I am restricting myself and my creativity starves. It means I can never write a thought unless it makes for good reading. It means I cannot behave in a way that is going to provoke change. Defining myself as something pacifies me and makes me feel that I have no choice but to behave as expected.

Maybe I’m already who I want to be, who I wanted to grow up as. I’m not a manager, or employee of the month, not a lady, a rebel, a servant or mistress, promiscuous or a saint. I’m not even a writer. Maybe I am merely capable of being these things with different amounts of success and satisfaction when I choose to be. Maybe I should stop searching for who or what I am and explore the things I’m capable of and enjoy being capable of. The things that are helpful, satisfying, and make me feel happy with what I’m doing. The most important thing about the outcome of my actions should be that it is helpful for me and my place in the world (incl. relationships, health etc) and not about whether I fit the definition I was trying to become.

My dad died 4 years ago today. I think he was searching his entire life for who he was or what he was supposed to be, and consequently became a person who did not enjoy his life, family and job. I think he only found the non-importance of this question, and started searching for the things that made him feel proud of his capabilities after we stopped speaking to each other almost 7 years ago. I think this year is the first time I can admit that I am glad that he did realise this eventually.

And I am sad that I missed it.

Allowing/Giving

IMG_20131023_101027I few days ago I was asked to think about the difference between giving and allowing. It’s an interestingly simple question, but I thought about it for a long time. I’ve tried to ask this question in different situations: work, relationships, drinking/smoking, coffee, sex, food and came to a few early stage thoughts on some of them.

Food:

Allowing has to do with control, be it either self control, or control by some authority. When I think of it in terms of food, it mostly has to do with restrictions (or diets). Allowing can be about foods that are allowed (or ‘good’) or allowing to have something cheeky. It makes me think of living by a law and doing the things that are allowed according to the law. Sometimes this is a law made up by yourself, sometimes it is a law laid upon you. Laws that will inevitably be broken and for which you will be punished. It’s a stressful concept.

The feeling I get when thinking about giving food to myself, it has to do with nourishment. When giving food to someone it has to do with care. It doesn’t really have anything to do with rules or laws, but with wants and needs. It’s an all in all more relaxed feeling. Feelings of restrictions tends to make people (and other animals) want to rebel I think. Some things become a lot more desirable when they are restricted. And in a way it also blocks a feeling of enjoyment when you are only ‘allowed’ to eat something, in stead of being given something.

Coffee:

Back when I was in Australia I had a bit of a thing about being addicted to coffee. In a way it was a bit of a personal psychoanalysis-experiment.  I found that I made the decision to allow myself a maximum of 3 cups a day. This was because I felt like I was drinking too much of it and felt simultaneously out of control,weak and over-controlling. Very interesting. I only just noticed that I seem to have moved out of that now, being back in Edinburgh, where coffee isn’t everywhere and I kind of forgot about ‘my addiction’. Now I seek cafe’s out every now and then, sit down and treat myself (or give myself) a well made coffee while reading a book or writing. I drink a lot less coffee now, have no issues limiting my intake and feel like it is something I look forward to, without stressfully needing it.

Sex:

I think many people allow for sex to happen, instead of giving themselves to someone. I think there is a very real pressure onto boys (and men I guess) to sweep women off their feet, perform like a real man and slowly persuade a girl (or woman) to go further and further. At the same time there seems to be a sense of pressure on girls (or women) to be manly (edit: or maybe just very confident and uninhibited) about sex and just do it. There seems to be a bit of an idea that when you go beyond a certain point, there isn’t really a way back, either because it makes you look like a prude, or because it would hurt the boy’s/man’s masculinity (as widely described in Cosmo…) Something you usually don’t want to do to a person you’re considering being intimate with.

Allowing things to happen is sometimes easier than speaking up and making a fuss. Allowing for sex to happen makes it easier sometimes than asking yourself the question ‘do I really want to do this?’. Feeling that sex should happen (because you’ve already gone this far, or because you’ve been in a relationship for while and haven’t done it in a week) I believe causes a lack of intimacy and causes a certain detachment.

Making the conscious decision to give yourself to someone intimately because you WANT to is incredibly empowering and exciting, be it casually or within a long term relationship. I wish this was a bit clearer in teenage education on relationships (a.k.a. Cosmo-type glossies and tv) instead of the idea that men turn into cavemen as soon as they think of sex and you need to accommodate this(or indeed use/manipulate it). Men are not like that, maybe some act like that, but definitely not all, and women shouldn’t treat men as such either. Its disrespectful. Wouldn’t it be a horrible thought to know that someone you’ve slept with merely allowed you, and wasn’t in fact sure that that they really wanted to? I think that would be devastating for most people, men and women equally.

I wonder if allowing for something automatically blocks your ability to give something. The shift from allowing to giving I think needs to be very conscious and is not very easy. It takes confidence, trust and love for oneself. All those things you will find in self help books, the hard things that some annoying people are born with.

I think I’ll need to think on this one a bit longer as well…

Food, sex, coffee, I think that’s all for today

Jude