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?

You’re not “Nice”.

Everyone wants to be “nice”. Some people go as far as to say “I’m a nice person”, “be nice” and will affirm they are “nice” if you ask them whether they think they are. But it can be hard to pinpoint what they mean.

“Nice”, as per the dictionary, means “giving pleasure or satisfaction; pleasant or attractive”. There is no popular definition that denies this, there is no requirement to being “nice”, it is just “something pleasant”. This gives us a problem: you can’t decide whether you are nice. Only other people can decide whether or not you are nice.

If you call yourself “nice” you can mean only two things:

  1. You are pleasing to yourself, you approve of yourself. Which means nothing as all healthy humans, and many unhealthy ones, enjoy themselves and approve of their own behaviour.
  2. You seek to please others and be approved of, and believe your behaviour is pleasing and worthy of approval. Which means nothing as you don’t get to decide what other people enjoy.

And there are two motivations behind calling yourself “nice”, both of which can result in either of the two meanings.

  1. You are ignorant of what you are saying and responding to how you were educated. Your parents told you “be nice”, meaning “appease and please” and you did so. All you mean is “I want to make others happy” or “I’m doing what I think is right”.
  2. You know that niceness comes from others and you are demanding their approval or, in the case of “be nice”, that they should act as you want them to. What you mean is “you should agree with my morals” or “you should appreciate that I’m not actively hostile”.

Quite simply: you can aim to please others and garner approval, but you cannot make yourself “nice”. How nice you are is not up to you.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

As a side note, Twitter really has improved my succintness.

Love is a Limited Resource.

It seems to be assumed by many that because we can feel love infinitely, we can also give love infinitely. In principle, the idea that love (the feeling) is infinite is not all that harmful. But love is not a feeling. Love is a verb, an action. You can claim to love someone even when you do not support it with your actions, and everyone will agree that is not love. Therefore, in reality, love is the act of loving, not the act of feeling love. And the act of loving is a limited resource.

This is evidenced by people who claim to love infinitely.

Parents of many children claim to love every child, but eventually hit a point where their children are suffering the compression of their homes and their days.

Radical vegans claim to love all animals and to wish harm on none, but will cause another human vast amounts of pain for not agreeing with them.

Animal hoarders claim to love every animal they own whilst simultaneously making all of them ill and even killing some of them.

Polygamous people claim to love many sexual and romantic partners “the same”, but will readily reduce their exposure to all their partners to accommodate a new love.

Hippie types claim to love all people, but will distance themselves from people who are violent, the very people who would most benefit from their world view.

Humans simply cannot love infinitely. Our love is a limited resource. Why? Because the ways in which we show love are physically restricted.

Time.

Our time is limited. If we have six hours a day to dedicate to socializing, then every person we add to that list reduces our ability to socialize with the others. There is a reason we value having a few close friends over hundreds of distant ones. It is simply easier to love and be loved by someone you see and talk to for an hour a day than by someone you see and talk to for an hour a month.

Resources.

We show our love also by sharing resources with others. Whether it’s taking someone out for a fancy meal or simply feeding our children the bare basics they need to survive, the more mouths we add to our list to feed, the less we can feed each of them. Whatever you offer someone as a token of love, every person you add breaks it in half.

Energy.

And we also only have so much energy to invest in people. Maybe we do have six hours a day to dedicate to socializing. But that also involves the energy expense of moving to see people, engaging in actions and, for introverts, just putting on our social faces. The more people you deal with, the less energy you have to deal with each of them. So you could theoretically throw a party every night and socialize with a hundred and fifty people per night. But it will drain you.

Quite simply, we have so much to give. And we need to be aware of that. Otherwise we end up in a family of fifty with nothing to eat, or hurting a friend to prove we love an animal, or adopting three cats into a deadly environment, or seeing our partners rarely to keep face with other partners, or pushing away people who need our help to encourage good feels.

Our resources are limited. We cannot love everyone. Instead, we need to allocate some of our love to everyone of value in our lives and prioritize who gets the most of what we have to give. Otherwise we end up with nothing left to give and nobody to give it to.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

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.