In keeping with how eclectically I usually write this blog, this has nothing to do with books (or politics), language (or children) or basically anything I have been thinking about lately. And yet it is a recurrent thought that kept gaining flesh… and yet it is, like all of the above, (also) about identity.
The way we conceive ourselves – and it’s very difficult to figure out if this is characteristic of women and men at the same time or even of most women – seems to be this archetype of who we would like to be/used to be in photos/intend to be at a certain time. It seems to me that, at any point in one’s life, there are things that a person is, and yet thinks (or merely hopes) they’re not.
`I look all right these days, if only there wasn’t for those pimples` – followed by a mental photoshop brushing away temporary things that are not essential to who you want to be.
`I’m actually not someone who wears glasses. It’s just because I can’t stand my contacts lately and I don’t dare attempt surgery and… oh yeah, because I have bad eyes` – photoshop to your face 4 years ago when you were wearing contacts or to 9 years ago when you refused to wear the glasses on the street.
`I’d be feeling very well with myself if it weren’t for those extra pounds. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror, this is not me` – photoshop brush to 63 kilos that you may have had 10 years ago, while at that time photoshopping towards 59.
`My cheeks in this photo look like a basset hound’s, but it’s just because I was pregnant at the time, this is not how I generally look` – accompanied by silent envy towards all the gorgeous pregnancy photos of friends, who probably photoshop their own head out of those pictures as well…
`I sound like a very controlling mother, although this is really not how I am, I want to…` – photoshop towards a mental image compiled from Hollywood family movies where kids roam around free all day and yet follow the most perfect table etiquette.
`I’m really not an office clerk, I’m a writer…` after years of deskjobs in which you never wrote a line of literature. (all right, this is really not one of my thoughts, it’s more inspired from the `Bartending is just a temporary thing until I get an audition` – I admit as an identity decision that I could never live in the insecurity anything artistic as a vocation presupposes.)
`I’m sorry my house is such a mess, I’ve only just gotten home…` – whereas it would look just the same at any moment someone visits without calling beforehand, because the way the house it’s supposed/designed/imagined to look only lasts while the cleaning lady has just left the living room and is sweeping upstairs, only to be completely lost for another week by the time she goes out the door.
The thought came back to me again yesterday, in Polish class, when a colleague describing me said `she has curly hair` – and although I had taken the mysterious change that electrified my hair a few months ago for a temporary, `not-me` phenomenon which will pass, after which I will `be me` again, it dawned on me. Every single day I will be things that I want to photoshop away and things that are esentially the way I want them to be. Things I know and I don’t know about myself. Outside and in. There are `ways I am` that I will have to fight my whole life because they will not simply allow themselves to be changed radically, but will allow a daily `straightening`. The things by which I define myself are not pick-and-choose, although, for the sake of minimal confidence, they are the ones one rather concentrates upon. I don’t think there is peace to be had with all these things I don’t like about myself (temporary or not). But the layers I try to strip away in order to get to `really me` are, sometimes, to be accepted as inevitable, and sometimes, as demons that can be louder or quieter roommates on my asteroid, but the `baobab plucking` or `volcano cleaning` keeps me on my toes and makes me aware of my shortcomings towards others.