From the moment I press the snooze button in the morning to the time when I get to work and begin surfing the internet for articles to qualify my lack of motivation; I am constantly reordering my thoughts to affirm my actions. When I don’t meet the goal I set for myself, say to get up at 5 am to work out, I chose not to accept that truth but instead to look for alternative theories to justify it.
And as somebody who tries incessantly to improve their life – from yoga to vegan diets to intellectual pursuits – I find it difficult to come to terms with what I aim to be and the reality of where I am today.
In narrating this better life for myself where I am happier, healthier and more fulfilled if I achieve this one thing, I resent who I really am: an abundance of competing selves.
On some mornings I actually do want to work out, I want to be a motivated and logical individual, capable of achieving what she set her mind to. But other mornings I’m simply apathetic, relishing in my indifference. And on all the mornings in between, I’m a million other selves who for moments at a time convince me of new goals, new ambitions and new beings.
This cycle spins me in and out of attempts to redesign my life and with every new idea comes the inevitable realization that I’m doing it again: projecting happiness onto something I don’t have and making it that much easier for me to escape from myself today. Instead of acceptance an internal friction results wherein I simultaneously want to achieve something that I think will make me happier but do not do what it takes to get there.
Take for example the self who wants to go to graduate school, who wants to study for entrance exams, write a profound application essay and apply to elite programs. This self knows it would do best to be disciplined in doing so, but instead finds herself watching television with popcorn.
Or similarly, the self who sets the goal of being healthier only to find herself indulging in a donut, likely three, a few hours later.
When I defeat myself in a mental goal and fail to accomplish the self-improvement task of the day, week or month, a trail of explanations ensue. Conflicting reports from different parts of my mind give me excuses for my failure and new ideas for how to get back on track.
This resolution comes in the form of articles I read that dictate new ways to improve yourself, once again instigating the cycle of betterment and leaving me to believe that I haven’t strayed too far from the path. I also justify myself by saying things to myself like, “well, I had a long day at work so I’m worth slacking off.”
These lies are placeholders. They settle whatever angst I feel about not having reached the idealized self I am aiming to be and keep me from seeing myself, as is.
There are many truths that we would all prefer to keep secret. I often think about how scary it would be if people knew the thoughts that were in my mind. I think about the random people I have passed on the street who pop up in my dreams or the friends who I overthink my relationships with, not the mention the various men who live in my head.
These thoughts, and really, more accurately, desires, I have about wanting to be so many things at once – beautiful, successful, smart, close to people – are complex feelings and emotions that lead me on a whirlwind of thoughts.
I challenge myself by wanting to curate the perfect self, the one version that will never fail at anything and can float through life effortlessly. I often think that if I could just reconcile all my desires once and for all I could put a stop to the evolution of self-discovery, self-doubt and self-realization.
But what am I thinking? That’s just one self-talking.