Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pretense is the mother f@%$er of dissention

Yes, I know. I'm slightly misquoting Plato here, but mostly I just wanted to write this post so I could use this badass title. However, the more I think about what I'm going to say to make it work, the more I'm agreeing with my miraculously brilliant brain. (See what I mean...now you are irritated with me because of my pretentiousness! Perfection!! It totally works!) Plus, I'm running a little behind on my commitment to overexposing myself so I needed to post something.

You see, I mentioned before that my mind is rebellious. I was always taught to think critically about things. Question everything. Don't accept information at its face value. As a result, I don't cognitively comply with much. I will always think, "you said you are 39, but I think you are...not."

That's all fine and well until this incessant questioning pairs itself up with a compliant spirit (also mentioned before). The problem is that a rebellious mind partnered with a compliant spirit typically manifests itself in a perpetually conflicted mind.

Then, sprinkle a little expectation on that...just a little something that someone else thinks I need to be doing...and the whole thing starts to implode. If I am confronted by an expectation, I will instantly rebel in my head, but comply (equally as instantly) in my body. First, I question the validity of the request. Then, I rebel against it. Then, I big-fat-do-it-anyway. Ridiculous, right? How can anyone be happy selling themselves out 24/7?

In fact, don't tell anyone, but the quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't. And if you really want to piss me off to get slightly quicker compliance, just tell me I can't because I'm...a woman...not good at it....not smart enough...not coordinated enough...not pretty enough...not skinny enough...boring...um....well, the list can go on ad infinitum.

In practice, this looks like this...I don't want to do something, but I do it anyway. I don't like something, but I let it continue. I don't like BBQ at all, but I'll eat it anyway.

So basically, now I'm doing both what people tell me to do and what they tell me I can't do. And, it turns out, I can only do so much. I just figured out that I'm not thinking for myself anywhere in this and that's seriously fucked up! So now I'm pissed! And there is nothing worse than an angry pleaser, let me tell you!

Now, there's one more layer to this...pretense. Add pretense to this expectation that there is a perfect, one way to do things. An image to which I am supposed to aspire or something I should just do because I should. Because it is the "right thing" to do. And suddenly I don't really want to do that so much any more. Now I'm dissenting. An angry, dissenting pleaser. With a brain about to melt out of my ears!

I know I'm not alone on this either; I think this is true for most people. No one wants to be told what to do; yet we spend our entire lives trying to figure out how to follow conventions enough to get away with not following them completely. Think about all that experimenting you did in high school or college. Bucking the system is ingrained in our DNA. (Or, at least, I think it is. It should be. I'm too lazy to do the research so don't quote me on that.) But the part I never got out of all that mess was that you are supposed to end up with a definition of self. Who you are and what you think and what you do. Self-ownership.

Well, I've decided to take action. And I'm totally going to mid-life crisis my ass all over this one albeit in a very conventional way. However, I will say that back when I conceived of it, it wasn't so conventional. (At least, I'll give myself that in my quest for perfect imperfection.) I'm going to go back in time to right a wrong I made to myself more than 20 years ago! And here's what my action looks like....

I have wanted a tattoo since 1991, but I didn't do it for so many reasons. None of which are because I didn't want to. I'm not surrounded by a posse of people who would agree that getting a tattoo is really the best idea and, therefore, it bucks convention to a certain degree in my world. Because of my tendency to comply, I never really trusted myself to do it. I let myself be talked out of it many a time.

Now here's the thing...my tattoo has belonged here for so long that when I finally did it, I felt relief. It is as though my outsides and insides are starting to align. My tattoo is a reminder to me that my body and my mind are my own. A reminder that no person should take lightly. For various reasons, I've let mine be owned by others for so long and I'm taking it back! And the owl is a reminder of that wisdom.


  1. Good for you, Helen!!

  2. H-
    Let me start by saying my phone had a fit insisting I address you as U-Haul. I'm sure some existentialist would have a feild day with that one..

    I have always known you to have amazing creativity and a sharp wit. Combining that with your mission to overexpose ..brilliant!