One thing Iíve noticed about keeping an online journal is that Iím prone to making statements about myselfómy character, my personality, my habits, etc. Itís really basically an opportunity for self-definition, to try to figure out in my mind who I am and to share this view with others.
But Iíve only recently started to think about the fact that these proclamations of mine are not necessarily the absolute truth, and that I need to be conscious of that fact. Despite my constant soul-searching, I donít understand myself completely, and my views of myself are very often colored by my emotions and my mood.
And, beyond issues like that, I really feel like Iím a very contradictory person; that is, there seems to be a lot about me that is at odds with other things about me. I can make a statement about myself that is perfectly true, and yet make another that seems to indicate the opposite which is also just as accurate. Because of this, things that I say about myself can be misleading, because despite their truth, they fly in the face of plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Itís odd, though. I confuse even myself. I mean, for example, I am a deeply serious person. I take just about everything in my life intensely seriously and to heart. I ponder moral questions, put great weight on relationships with people, think deeply about broad issues affecting people and the world. The vast majority of what goes on in my head is heavy, serious thinking, and I give deep significance to pretty much everything, even when I shouldnít. And yet, Iím also one of the most silly and ridiculous people I know. I can be utterly goofy, make light of things and play around.
Or hereís an even better example. My self-image is something I look at in a very polarized way. Often, Iím intensely critical of myself and my faults. Iíll think that Iím a terrible person, that Iím deeply flawed, that thereís no good reason for anyone to like me, that Iím unlovable. Serious self-esteem problem, you say? Well, sometimes. At other times, Iím convinced Iím one of the best people around, a wonderful moral and caring person who would be loved by everyone if they truly knew me. Despite the fact that the first state tends to be more frequent than the second, thatís no reason the latter should be disregarded. Those who know how much I tend to berate myself might be surprised at this feeling of self-confidence and outright moral superiority that occasionally overwhelms me. Of course, Iím horrible at finding any balance between these extremes; I couldnít possibly be a normal human being, could I, instead of either worthless or amazing?
Or, I have this very strong emotional feeling that my worth and goodness can only be determined by other people, that I need to be validated by people liking and loving me. And yet, I feel intensely uncomfortable when people attempt to give me credit for something I donít think I deserve, and I get upset and angry when I feel that people are judging me unfairly. In other words, I feel like I need to be judged and evaluated by others, because my own perceptions are not valid, and yet I have a problem with those evaluations unless they conform closely to my own self-evaluation.
Or take my sense of privacy. Most people reading this would think that, considering the way I speak of my feelings and thoughts on my webpage, available for everyone and anyone to see, that I must be very open with my emotions. This is true to some extent. Yet Iím also intensely private with my emotions with certain individuals, especially with my family. There are certain people who Iím willing to open up my heart to, and in fact thatís basically my default position, but Iíll shrink back into myself quickly for others. In fact, as much as Iíd like for people to read my journal entries and understand me, it bothers me vaguely that some people might have access to this page and be let into my thoughts and emotions. It honestly doesnít make that much sense, but, as Iíve been saying, I donít make that much sense.
Thereís more, of course. The contrast between my periodic bouts of selfishness and selflessness never ceases to amaze meóthat I can be so genuinely concerned about others and willing to give up things on their behalf at some times, while at other points Iíll knowingly sacrifice othersí happiness for my own. Or the way I can be so industrious at work or in other certain situations, yet also be one of the worldís worst procrastinators. Or how much I want, on many levels, my life to be planned and understood and secure, and yet at the same time I run from order and detail, and am unable to force myself to make the sort of choices that would give me more certainty and direction. Or the way I can be deeply and intensely emotionally affected by something, with the sense that I will never be free from its grip, and then just kind of distract my mind and escape from feeling it for a while.
Iím not sure what my point is. Part of it is just having something to write, since I know how long itís been since I last did one of these long entries. Part of it is trying to make sense in my mind of the things I donít understand about myself. Part of it is a disclaimer to remind my readers that despite that massive amount of time I spend in self-reflection, my characterizations of myself should be taken with a grain of saltóI donít think I try to frame myself in an unduly positive light when I write these things, but that doesnít mean that I comprehend myself enough to be insightful and illuminating with everything I say. Or maybe I donít have a point. Well, so what?
5 September, 2002
Intellectual Property Rights denounced by Britt Gordon-McKeon, 2002