There isn’t one me, and that’s OK.

A post at Hearthrose’s blog got me thinking about something recently.

Although I take pride in being pretty independent and happy to be alone, like all people I try and craft myself a story which minimizes conflict, which allows me to appear more congruent, to fit into the group.

But the thing is, although I am functional, stable and happy, I am not a sane, balanced, “one story” sort of a person. I’ve done a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff has happened to me, and my refusal to adhere to one group means my outlook on life isn’t from the same vantage point as any given person I am talking to. I have been on welfare and among the elite at the Oxford and Cambridge club. I have spent time in churches and posing nude for painting and photography groups. I have been paid to write liberal essays, but I have also intentionally associated with Marxists and feminists. I have lived across countries, incomes, social boundaries… And between that and the randomly flicking light switch which is my hormonal balance, I am not sane or balanced, there is no “one story”.

I find that with the way my head works, it’s hard to reconcile many different aspects of myself. I learned from a young age that people as disjointed and random as me aren’t “real” people, that I needed to simplify myself in order to be “genuine”. Although no one person has mattered to me beyond Jon, I’ve still tried to minimize conflict by wedging myself into one story and hiding anything which didn’t quite fit.

Pregnancy has given me some time to think about this though, especially about disorders like bipolar and disorders of shallow affect. I know they’re highly heritable. But I don’t want my son to end up like my father: a bipolar alcoholic unable to reconcile all the facets of his identity into something pleasant and superficially genuine, which people might find easier to swallow. I want my son to be able to be weird and disjointed, to not commit to something unless he needs to or wants to or believes it makes sense, to not force himself into an indentity or a group without reason. I don’t want to make him think he has to find a community he can perfectly blend into and fade into the background. Because that is what happened to my father and it doesn’t work.

I don’t care any more if I’m a bit too sweary or immodest at times for the traditional spheres. Or if I’m not racy or flaunty enough for social media. Or if I’m not religious enough for small communities. Or if I’m not abrasive enough for my age group. I don’t care that I read anything from the KJ Bible to Deadman Wonderland, that I’m an anime nerd, that I can’t hate the sex industry, that I prefer to be alone most of the time, that I’m self-absorbed, that I like to do traditional tasks, that I hoard money instead of using it.

I’d rather get on with being me, doing what I must do in order to succeed at what I want, accepting the different sides of myself and not hiding them in order to fit in better or appease someone. If something needs fixing, I’ll fix it, not pretend it isn’t there to give a better impression. And if I lose a few people along the way, then they’re not part of my story, are they?

What Do You Owe The World?

We are all born with some sense of duty, of what is right by us and our kind, of what we need to do.

Even true to type psychopathic people, even extremely disconnected autistic people, even selfish small toddlers have some sense of “I had better do this for so-and-so” where there is no direct, tangible or logical benefit to doing it.

And we all feel it on a scale, on a spectrum. Some people only feel it for their nearest and dearest, for their pet, or even for a fictional character. Some people feel it for every single living thing, or extend it even to inanimate objects.

We feel this urge because it did us good. When you feed your dogs, they love you. When you lend to your neighbour, they lend back. When you massage your husband, he does the dishes. It’s a little exchange, a little social flow, that keeps everyone happy and provided for. Humans live through ties and we want as many strong, healthy ties as possible. That is why the concept of karma is so appealing: in many ways it’s true. Because when we gave a friendly tribe some sheep, we had a greater chance of surviving.

We feel like we have so much to give, we feel like we should give it. But, when push comes to shove, we really don’t owe the world anything. Satisfying this sense of duty, day in day out, will not yield any more than the pleasant feelings of doing it.

Not every person you feed, lend to, massage or give sheep to will give you anything in return. Not everyone is worthy of your kindness and generosity. Not all good or bad karma will come back to visit you.

If you wanted to give every person you know £1, you would have no money left. If you wanted to massage everyone you met, you would not have enough time. If you wanted to give a friendly tribe all your sheep, you would starve. We have a limited amount of time, resources, mental, physical and emotional energy to give. We don’t owe any single person, or this world, any of it.

Instead, focus it where it should be directed, focus it on the job it’s supposed to do. Give time, resources and energy freely to those within your social circles and watch it come back to you. Give less to people more distant to you. Give more to people who are closer, or who you want to be closer to. Give less to people who give less to you and the circle. Give more to those who give more to you or the circle.

Karma isn’t some magical force that will punish you with cancer if you don’t donate £5 to AIDS babies in Africa. Karma is your best friend not wanting to carpool because you didn’t make them a cup of tea the last three times they visited you. Karma isn’t magic. Karma is other people. Karma is tribe. Karma is family.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.