My self-abusing musings and irritation with identity/lack thereof. Existential? A little.
|What have I done? Convinced myself that there is one thing that has value as an activity of the soul--that is, writing and all things artistic. And yet I have convinced myself time and time again I am a terrible fiction writer, and I would be unhappy being a novelist. How do I reconcile these two sides of myself? In those rare moments when I find I am sitting around with little or nothing to do, in the back of my mind there's always that unsettled feeling, that I should be doing something I'm passionate about. And what is always there is writing. I believe if I did take up writing as a profession, I would be unhappy as a result of not meeting my own standards and I would start hating the act of writing itself. So, I boycott it for long stretches of time and find myself unhappy in a new way entirely by feeling like I am not living to my potential. And the idea that I have succumbed to the worldly despair of giving up my dreams and live life by surviving and not thriving, sickens me. I can't even stand that position in other people that seems so prevalent even at my age!
So then my question is, if I don't actually write all that often at all (not until I am overpowered by the urge and can't bear avoiding it any longer), why do I identify myself as a writer? We are what we do, and put very plainly I don't do! Why won't this identification fade away no matter how long I starve it or pretend it's not there? Is it the damn prestige of being a Creator? Which angers me in other people because there is such a sense of being egotistical. I feel there are two types of writers, and the one kind is so inflated--though in a positive sense has such a strong, interesting, overpowering personality--and that self-importance gives them the curiously thick skin that allows them to think they have things that the world will value. I feel that they are the ones who focus on the prestige-part of writing. The other type is the angst-ridden kind, I suppose, who have such a ridiculous amount of talent that it consumes them and burns its way down their fibers, for them writing is surviving but it is also a kind of madness in that it pulls them away from the rest of life. I feel these are the individuals who truly acknowledge the idea that the world is a cold place, so they truly understand that the talent that burns through them will not have acceptance in the eyes of most, this is why they are mad. But, since the public's opinion is not what drives them they continue writing anyway. Obviously, ridiculous oversimplification here and a lot of silly cliched romantic ideas (perhaps too much idealism with the second brand of writer), yet I still have the feeling these trends in the personalities of those who write hold some water. I get this feeling that if I found I did fall in to the first camp (less so with an interest in fame, more so with the interest in prestige and the lack of copious talent) I would not actually like myself. In knowing that, I would know I was living a deluded life. And yet, is that any worse than becoming a lawyer? Oh boy, if I was worried about soullessness before...! Again with the cliches. If you're a lawyer, don't worry there's some self-deprecating humor behind all of this... and I really do appreciate what you do. I just don't know if it's my particular meaning in life.
Leads to the general topic of judging one's life... not a big question at all... *wink wink*. Obviously there's no true way to judge one's life objectively, but when has THAT ever stopped the human race from trying?? Reminds me of the undergrad course I just took in philosophy. Specifically, of the unit on Mill's (?) Utilitarianism, and this theory that one can do some hocus-pocus calculus and find the ever elusive maximum of happiness. Maximizing happiness, in his theory, is the route to morality. Maximize happiness for everyone involved and you are being moral. Regardless if this is correct or not, I really really wish I could develop the magic ability to whip out a handy-dandy calculator on the subject of worthiness or lack of worthiness in my life career choices. (Well, not strictly career... but "calling", "purpose", and "reason for being" make me giggle!) And then, of course, the practical issues smack you in the face as they do for Utilitarians. When do you do your calculus? When do you stop tallying up repercussions for your decisions, five years after? ten? when you've reached your deathbed? And, say I chose law school. How can I give a cost to the opportunity cost, i.e. the time I never spend being a writer and doing writerly things, like, well, writing? After all, if I never experience it I can never know truly what I missed. All this starts to beg questions about everyday humdrum choices you make... do we lose an infinite number of possibilities with every minor choice we make? Or is there no such thing as "losing possibilities"? Because I chose the chicken rather than turkey sandwich at the local deli, did I change my future forever? All light-hearted gloss aside... the problems of who I am and who I choose to be are serious and life-changing. Are you ever bothered by the theory that there's some perfect career out there that your heart just leads you to? It's hawked by counselors from here to kingdom come, that you should build your career on what you like and what you're good at. This presupposes that what you like and what you're good at are the same thing....
Ah, I can feel the eye-roll-deserving angst burgeoning now. Bring on the shame and bring on the peanut butter--which happens to be my ultimate kryptonite. And, if you're feeling some existential angst, don't be shy shout it out ! I like to pretend I'm not the only one who ever gets a whiff of anguish.