When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to do was draw up characters for stories that never got written. I just found them a few months ago when I was cleaning out my closet o’ things at my parents. There are folders full of “Charlotte, 29, Girlfriend of Simon, brilliant, hilarious, but a little bit rude.” Each character had a color scheme assigned to them. And they were always partnered or positioned to eventually be partnered up.
There’s quite a bit that’s problematic with the structure of those descriptions. But I want to focus in on those last parts.
I recently realized that for a large part of my life, I’ve been trying to write, edit, and fulfill a character description for myself.
I have these characteristics that I want to be (i.e. intellectual, open-minded, dependable) and I am constantly taking action in order to satisfy those characteristics.
It’s a taxing way to be, I’ll tell you. I’ve always been a thinker, an introverted rationalizer. Spending hours, days, weeks thinking through a decision or wading through a tough situation before I know how I want to understand what happened.
And people have always praised this about me. “Hannah, how responsible you are. How thoughtful. How insightful.”
But I’ll tell you something: I’ve been so trapped by my shit that I am just now meeting myself.
What shit? Fantasies, future plans, what ifs. They’ve all sent my mind reeling for the majority of my days.
How many of you have felt like that? Trapped by your shit? Can you separate the present you from all your conditioning and judgments?
Do you know who you are?
This emphasis on “the other than now” was what ultimately led to my depressed state a few months ago. I had the memories and nostalgia of college. I had the fantasies of better lives elsewhere (anywhere but here!). I had the conditioning that the life I was leading as a service industry worker was second-class. That I wasn’t living the life I should be living.
And in all that, I missed months of life right under my nose. Kindness, complexity, loyalty, family. I missed all of that because in every moment, I was “other than now.”
Instead of executing a well-calculated plan for who we want to be, what if we meet ourselves as we are? What would happen if we experienced this moment without our conditioning? Without the burden of every single memory that has brought us to this moment?
It’s terrifying, actually. Even in the very short time I’ve been sitting, I’ve found endless judgment, bodily fear, self-protective pride, and well-intended hurtful actions. That’s all who I am. That’s not ALL of who I am. But that’s a part.
But we must meet ourselves as we are at this moment, because there is no other you. The past you is ungraspable. The future you is ungraspable.