Monday, May 02, 2011


I think I'm having a mid-life crisis entirely conducted in my own head.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the differences between who we actually are, who we think we are, who other people think we are, and who we aspire to be. It's funny how wide the differences between those versions of self can be.

Part of my self-image is made up of bits and pieces of my past, that are no longer applicable.

I was a truly painfully awkward teen and I frequently fail to remember that I'm now a fairly attractive adult. Or, I'll forget I'm not an 18-year old who dances 8 hours a day anymore (as evidenced by tearing my hamstring a couple of months ago while trying to do a simple arabesque).

I often don't notice new habits or behaviors that I've acquired more recently.

For example, I've been going through a lot of work angst lately due to massive change, and my frustration has spilled over so that I've become rather short tempered and even a little angry in general. I certainly don't think of myself as someone who yells at people in traffic or snaps at loved ones, but lately I've caught myself doing exactly that with terrifying frequency. I've been generally less joyful that I think that I am.

Part of my self-image is entirely internal.

I've always lived quite a bit in my head. From simple rehashing of conversations (I should have said this instead of that) to full out development of fantasy worlds and stories, I spend a lot of time thinking about things that I never share. I forget sometimes (often) that other people don't live in my head as well. There's a lot of my thought processing that never gets shared. Or only gets shared in part. My poor boyfriend is often subjected to my starting conversations halfway through (with the first half conducted in my mind) or picking up a conversation we ended hours, if not days, previous as if we had just left off (because I've been continuing it in my brain continually since then).

Part of my self-image is completely different from the way people perceive me.

I'm rather shy. I often don't know what do do in social situations or how to interact with people. (Honestly, I frequently end up, halfway through a conversation, wondering if my facial expression was an appropriate reaction to what a person was saying, and worrying that it wasn't, and wondering how I should be reacting or responding.) Oddly, however, almost no one I've ever told about my shyness believes me. Apparently I've successfully learned to hide my awkwardness and I come across as sociable and friendly. So then I wonder if I ever do have flashes of shyness that people actually see but attribute to something else (like egotism) because they don't realize that I'm shy.

Part of my self-image is entirely aspirational.

I think of myself as someone who reads. A lot. I read over 130 books in 2010. However, I aspire to be someone who reads quality, insightful books. And I do read quite a few works of good literature, but I also read a lot of rather silly drivel because it entertains me and lets me relax. If someone asks, I normally downplay the amount of trash reading I do and focus on the quality literature. Since there are a dozen quality books that I've read recently, it's not hard, but the reality is that quality literature is really quite a small percentage of the reading that I do.

So who am I?

I feel like I have good self-awareness, but lately I've been realizing that I also have a lot of self-obliviousness too. I need to take some time to get to know the person I am now. And I need to decide which aspects of that person I like, which aspects I don't like but need to learn to accept, and which aspects I don't like and need to change.

I think I'll start by carving out a few minutes regularly for introspection. I'm worth that much at least.

I just hope that I like the person I meet.

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