My sense of self-importance never ceases to surprise me. It is perhaps all the more surprising because I feel that I am a truly giving, compassionate person, whose willingness to help others goes far beyond that of many of the people I’ve met in my life.
See? There I go again. Clearly I am more giving than others, therefore, what?, deserving of more? This is a common braintrap. Let’s first dissect this whole Ego Dilemma. What is it? It’s a construction of my own design, made up of all kinds of tiny pieces, fragments of input from my life. And my conclusion is that I have just had too much goddamned positive reinforcement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – I think that believing in oneself, and being able to fight one’s out of any corner through shear force of will, is brilliant. I have done a lot of things to be proud of in my life so far, and the more adventurous ones, ones like relocating abroad with a one-way ticket in my hand, I owe in part to my Ego.
It’s multilayered, it’s complex – not only have I always been reminded of my intelligence, adaptability, resourcefulness, attractiveness, creativity, but I’m also American. An American girl from a generation of American girls whose parents encouraged a great deal of freedom. I grew up on a lot of “Do what makes you happy” and “Follow your bliss”-type phrases. Attach that to the American Dream of the individual who can arrive at just about anything in life if they just apply themselves and want it badly enough.
Ok, there you have it: 27 years old, female, American, believes she is capable of anything, can have anything if she tries hard enough, is intelligent, funny, creative, slew-of-other-positive-words. What does this really mean? About me? In life?
Here is what I THINK I’m getting close to understanding about my particular situation: This sense of self-importance is going to get me money and a job if I follow the set of cultural instructions that have been handed to me. This sense of self-importance may be the one thing that keeps me from having a lasting and meaningful relationship with another human being, if I let it.
My Ego is not stagnant, no Ego is. This, I think, is key. I do not have to believe everything that my Ego tells me. And that is how it feels sometimes sitting there in my head, a person who reassures me that I am right and that only I can figure this thing out, and if anyone can do a thing, it’s ME. ME I TELL YOU MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA. Something like that.
I thought I knew me. I thought I was a generous person. I always hold doors open for other people, and pick things up for people when they drop them, and help people with strollers in the metro and give my seat to old people and move out of the way in the street and call when someone is sick and tell people I care about them from time-to-time and smile at babies and arrive on time or early and never outshine the bride and try to make the outsider feel welcome, and respect people who work at the grocery store by not talking on my cell phone while I’m paying, and give money to homeless people, and remember their names, and write thank-you notes and inquire after your family when we meet for a drink.
But I also don’t want to hear your favourite song or see a video you think is funny. You know why? Because I think that my favourite song is better than your lousy favourite song, and that video is dumb. And if it’s it not dumb, it’s at LEAST dumber than this funny video I’m about to show you.
What a douche, right? I know.
Fuck it. I want to hear everyone’s favourite songs.
Also, I talk a lot. God, I am constantly saying some shit. Some peeps just be like that. But I think it’s time to listen for a while.
Tell me something.
(photo: “Ego” Burning Man project by Laura Kimpton, photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/arnog/)