Last week I asked you, sweet reader, what would happen if you discovered how contradictory I am in myself? How would it affect your opinion of me if I revealed the inconsistency of my many selves?
This is something I have struggled with for such a long long time. I thought that I needed to present a whole, coherent self to the universe. One that was legible and complete and comprehensive. One that made sense. One that appealed!
In these days of online business and monetized blogs, our persona has become our business. We are our personal brands. And so, necessarily, if I wish to follow this route, I must crystallise my very essence and clarify my purpose.
But this is where I think so many of us come undone.
To those of you who get lost in the world of niches and specialities, to those of you who feel intimidated and enthralled by all those wonderfully focused individuals who seem to have it all sussed out, to those of you who are always seeking, never finding…
I want to tell you that you are not your direction: you are not your self.
Events will happen in your life that you cannot predict. You will make choices that will have consequences which can never truly be planned for. You will say yes to the most life-altering opportunities, and you will take babysteps towards goals you cannot even imagine yet. You will forge relationships, take actions, speak truths that will reverberate throughout time, and will continue to do so long after you have left this world for the next.
And in each of these situations, you will create a new self – a self which orientates itself around this new perspective, this new point of fact. You give birth to a child and your mother self is simultaneously birthed. You survive an earthquake and your survivor self steps forward. You surrender into savasana and your divine self hovers in the ether.
You are all of these selves and none of them. Because you, my lovely, are so much more than a creation of self. You are something so much more timeless than a concentrated definition, so much more expansive than the direction you choose to take.
There is a Hindu goddess, dear reader, called Akhilanda – the goddess never-not broken who reminds me that the search for a coherent self is meaningless. She tells me that whatever self I believe myself to be is ultimately an illusion. She tells me that I am never not broken – and that this is not just ok, but that this is indeed a thing of beauty.
We are necessarily fragmented, broken, fractured. But rather than lament this fact, shroud it in the cloaks of secrecy and shame, we should display it, celebrate it. We will always choose which self to present to the world at any given moment, just remember that no matter what self you choose, the you behind the self is too vast to be contained. Too magnificent to be reduced.
So, why don’t we try this on for size: wholeness is only available to those who accept that they are intrinsically multi-faceted expressions of self-hood. Coherency is achieved when even those selves that we don’t particularly like are integrated. Consistency is not found in a direction – it’s found by turning up to the plate day after day.
So what happens when I reveal how contradictory I am? How inconsistent I am? How fluid I am in my identity?
I find out that you feel the same way too. I find a deeper connection with my lovely readers. I find communion.
We are all never not broken – and isn’t that just beautiful?
PS If you’re interested, Thandie Newton gave a wonderful TED talk where she engages with ideas of selfhood – highly recommended!