Entry 2 – January 15th, 2017
I tend to learn a lot about myself in the quiet times…the times when I’m alone with my thoughts. These are usually the times when it would probably be much better for me not to be by myself…but that’s a different sort of story. Self-reflection is something that I think is a neglected or abused process and one that most people tend to shy away from. We don’t want to look too deeply at ourselves because what we find is unsettling, and it might spark memories or emotions that we aren’t ready to face or work on. I tend to think this is why “Reality” TV shows are so popular, why people are obsessed with so called “celebrities” and make outlets like TMZ and E! popular web and TV destinations. We love to watch the famous people and live vicariously through them on their ride at the top. We shower them with affection and compliments…one might even say worship….because we hope we can someday be in the same place or maybe they might bring us along for the rest of the trip. At some point the trip takes a detour….or hits a brick wall. That’s when the real “fun” begins; because as much as we love our famous names when they’re on top, we seem to enjoy it even more on their way down crashing and burning in some scandal. We revel in that misery…and kick that pedestal out from beneath them with a viciousness not found anywhere else but among those here in the “civilized” world.
Why? well because if everyone is focused on what Joe Famous is up to then no one is paying too much attention to what my shortcomings are, and in fact it maybe even gives me a rationalization to the actions I’ve been taking. “At least I don’t go out until 3 am and end up totally drunk and naked on the paparazzi channel like Joe Famous.” “I didn’t take those illegal substances like Jimmy Baseball did.” “When compared to that I’m a really great guy.” And so forth…and so on…ad nauseam. It’s like we strive to meet this unattainable standard we set by comparing ourselves to all of these people in the spotlight; and we either puff ourselves up and get prideful, or we become even more dejected because we don’t make the cut. Comparing yourself to others inevitably leads to one of those two ends…and it doesn’t matter who the comparisons are being made against – famous people, coworkers, friends, or family members – it makes no difference in the end. The comparisons will either insulate us within a shell of arrogance or bury us beneath the weight of depression. In either case, we are not the whole person that we could truly be.
This brings us back to self-reflection. We need to be able to take an honest look at ourselves and determine if we like what’s developing. I can’t look at anyone else to see if I’m making good on the improvements I’m intent on. I’m the only one that can really answer the questions at hand and evaluate my own progress. That doesn’t mean that I can’t or shouldn’t share my goals with others or that there isn’t encouragement to be found in celebrating the victories you earn along the way…or that those others can’t be an invaluable resource for advice and a shoulder to lean on when you’re struggling. We may not get far comparing our road to someone else’s, but we’re made to share life with one another.
We are not really built for solitary existence, although some have seemed to find a way to go through life in such a manner. Time alone is good and necessary for everyone sometimes, but an entire life lived alone is missing vital interactions. We find the road is a bit less difficult to walk and the burden of living a bit lighter when we have others to walk beside us and share the load. So I learn a lot about myself in the quiet times, and I find it easier to stare at my reflection when I’m not wasting time trying to avoid those things I don’t want to see. It doesn’t make those things any more desirable…but it does get a bit less cumbersome when I stop trying to sweep it all away and instead try to figure out what the root issue is and take a long hard look at it. What does it really mean?
Welcome to the art of self-reflection. Please keep your hands and feet inside at all times while the ride is in motion and buckle up buttercup.