This is sort of new. I'm restless, so I'm trying to write it out to get myself back together, rather than with a real idea of what I want to say. The newness is that it's going to the blog rather than to another of my overwritten notebooks.
I was speaking to a friend yesterday, about the usual topic - individualism vs. others' perceptions and expectations - and at one point, presumably when I was beginning to bore him, he said "I reckon you just choose a personality and stick to it."
Which I thought then was a kind of bland "stay true to yourself" statement - because how can you "choose" a personality? You only have one in the first place - but later what I thought he meant (and it doesn't even matter if he didn't because it's an interesting thought) was that you choose an image and cultivate it exclusively.
This is a very new concept to me because pretty much since I remember myself I've been in denial of the fact that my image - people's perception of me - matters to me. It always felt like an affront to my indepedence; "What do you mean I need people to approve of me? No I don't!"
And I'm still not sure I do, but if I care about people at all, I care about their relationship to me, and if I care about their relationship to me, I need their perception of me to be representative, even if it can never be %100 accurate. I need to be recognised, in both senses of the word.
And I think, or I guess agree, finally, that this effort to represent yourself needs to be, if not exactly engineered, then deliberate. You have to stop and ask yourself "how am I being perceived by people right now?" which is an idea I still find deterrent, but which I think I'll need to try and get used to. The idea is to exaggerate your own characteristics, as it were, so as to both facilitate your relationships with people and strengthen your sense of identity. If people knew, for example, how embarrassingly much I loved Neil Young, this would make me an immeasurably healthier and happier person. And this is probably news to nobody but myself, but I'm still having trouble swallowing the concept.
In relation to this, or possibly not, I noticed today - or it bothered me today - that I have no professional pride, and no professional excitement. It is true, of course, that I am not exactly a professional, but even just the other guys in the apartment, who are also only doing one or two years of qualification-less national service, seem very anxious to do what they're doing well, because - I think - they perceive their work as being part of who they are, which kind of makes sense, considering that it is completely fucking voluntary.
It's not even true to say that I'm bored at work. I've been finding it very intriguing, but I feel more like a passive observer of a sociological experiment (it's a kindergarten) than an active participant, even when I'm actively participating.
It's to do with considering what I do with people as separate from me. The work I'm doing is terrible? Okay, it's just work I happen to be doing - it couldn't possibly say anything about me as a worker. I'm as good a worker as I feel I am. Sure.
Your image is the rubber of the balloon. While it is true that it's mainly about the air, if there's no rubber to contain it then it's kind of a futile exercise. Just walking around breathing on people isn't nearly as pleasant. The air is the content, but the fact that you choose to pack it inside of the rubber is what tells the person you're giving it to that you love them. It's like the gift and the gift package. Saying it's only about the gift is kind of cold.
If you care about people then you owe it to them to attribute meaning to your interactions with them, and to consider who you are with them who you are as a person. It's not about trying to impress them. It's about respecting them enough to recognise them as part of your life. It's not about what they say or even think about you; it's about how they experience you. Less good/bad than real/fake.
And after so much inane babble, you deserve some Neil Young.