On a daily basis I feel lost, which is perhaps something I should not admit whilst looking into life coaching as a viable part-time career.
Thing is, what I’ve found so far is that solving other people’s problems is so much easier than tackling your own. Perhaps it’s the sense of perspective fixing someone else’s life affords; while, when we are living our lives, moment by moment, it is difficult to get a good look at it, analyse and dissect it as we would another’s.
Then again, maybe it is more a case of denial: we solve other people’s problems so we do not have to face our own, like the doctor who heals patient after patient while secretly harboring a tumor in her brain, an insidious fungus that flowers larger each day.
For me, lately life has been a matter of overcoming my own personal delusions borne of both an overactive imagination and a sporadic inability to face reality (which are pretty much same thing, anyway). My delusions are colourful and varied as coral in a reef – something which I should probably state with less mischievous pride.
Some of them are centered on people, as mentioned in my last post, whereby I construct fantasy relationships only to be severely disappointed – not in the fallibility of reality, but my own brain. No matter how many times it is let down, the squiggly lump of protein housed in my skull never learns.
Other times, they revolve around my own “goals” in life, signposts which mark arbitrary points of progress over the course of an existence. On some days I feel ready to sally forth into the world, pen held high like a sword, to carve out a living as a journalist, or an author, buoyed on a drift of euphoria. Then, sometimes the very same afternoon, I read a book, gape at the exquisite prose, then plummet back to earth to lie in curled in a crater of despair. These shifts in self-belief occur with alarming frequency, up one minute and down the next like a pogo stick.
Judging by what I write on this blog, you may come to the conclusion that I am a remarkably even-tempered human, able to dole out sound advice and act as a voice of kindness and reason – which is true. I am all those things.
But every person is a complex mix of opposing traits, and I am no different. If you were to ask my family, “temperamental” would perhaps be a more apt descriptor. Or “moody” and “fickle”. To be honest – and I would forgive you for thinking me mad – I sometimes feel as if there are at least ten different people crammed inside my body, expressing themselves in turns on a strictly unstructured rotation.
This lack of a certain identity, of a foundation on which one builds the self, has made me feel inadequate for many years. If you carefully look at the way people interact with the others, they often have a particular and often unconscious “fixed” personality uniquely their own, whereas I feel more like a perpetual actress, jumping from one role to the next in any given day, before crumpling at the end of the day exhausted backstage. Rather than ask for others to accept me as who I am, I adapt, changing myself to suit them.
This can make even simple, everyday exchanges precarious. I feel like I am always on quicksand. Constantly, I ask myself, am I being “myself”? Am I conforming to the persona I usually reserve for this individual? What is the real me, anyway? What if, deep inside, there is nothing there at all, just a blank canvas upon which to paint whatever person whenever I want? Or does my true personality only radiate through my writing, is speech to limited a medium for someone so introverted as I?
All this makes me feel like I have no control over life. I feel lost, unmoored; the world is a tossing sea without any lighthouse or constellation to guide the way. Every component of existence, be it belief in my own writing, or who I am, are not bricks but loose coagulated masses of sand, liable to crumble to pieces at the slightest touch.
And I am forever searching for land, for a solid foundation. Perhaps that is why I construct fantasies: to create a semblance of security. I delude myself into thinking someone loves me, because a loved one can act as an anchor in life. I delude myself into thinking my literary dreams are achievable in the next five years, rather than ten or twenty, so as to have something to clutch onto when the night gets dark and the seas get rough. I talk to my characters, in my head, as if they were real people, to feel as if there is someone out there who knows and understands me – even if it is only a product of my own mind.
That doesn’t make me crazy; in fact, it could be seen as a gift, from the right perspective. For instance, being able to shift myself into various personas to make others feel comfortable is useful if you’re a therapist. And talking to people in my own head, though a sign of madness in many books, is something which writers do all the time.
So if you are feeling lost, or without a stable identity, I want you to know that is perfectly fine. We all drown, eventually, and we all have parts of ourselves that lie dormant, never erupting unless the right circumstances transpire. Deep down, no-one is sure of anything, and no-one knows anyone.
In this murky realm between what is true and not true, what is part of reality and what is a delusion, instead of sobbing at the incomprehensibility of it or trying to come up with definite conclusions, we should embrace and step into the fog, and simply, well, live. And by the end of it, perhaps we will look back and realise what we were looking for was there all along.