As certain things in my life seem to be coming together at last, I find myself thinking about the tempestuous waves that crashed against the walls of my beliefs, my self-image, and my entire thinking over the past few years. I started this post with many different headings, and then realized they are all equally important in sparking my journey toward who I'm beginning to become (though I'm not even close to getting there...).
The first thing I would like to mention is empowerment. Before I was able to figure anything out about myself, I was given (so, so generously by those close to me) a powerful feeling of "I can do this." I can get to know myself. (Amazing that it takes such a strong will in order to get to know one's self.) This feeling had to be renewed numerous times. I had to be reminded and re-empowered so often, it felt embarrassing. I felt like a horrible student of life, of myself. The patience I was met with and the persistence of people who empowered me was (and is) a tremendous gift. I think I've abused this gift, nearly, or maybe I'm just capable of empowering myself on my own now (even if it's not always easy...) and my friends know it. Either way, I've learned to dig into what's important about me and bring out that powerful feeling on my own. It's not always easy (I'm not always very good at it and still trip over myself doing it) and I don't always like that somewhat lonely feeling of "you're on your own now", but...I can do it.
After I felt empowered enough, I was able to recognize what was great about me, what was not so great, and, most importantly, what was true. This leads me to my next thing. Honesty.
Honesty is probably one of the most important lenses through which to see the world, others, and yourself. If you take only one thing away from reading this blog, please let it be the importance of clearing away everyone else's voices and opinions and what They say (whoever They are) and approaching the world and everything in it with true honesty. I had to work at being honest with myself. I had to word really hard. I'm not even that good at it yet. But I know that it is important, and I'm aware when I'm not being honest, even if there are times when I don't want to be honest and prevent myself from doing so. But I know what I'm doing - and that's an improvement.
Honest extends beyond the self, too. Do you really believe what you say you believe? I don't know everything I believe, but I think I know certain things I don't believe. Or maybe not. I'm not sure. But in any case, I don't like to say or do things just to make a point unless I can really, honestly say I believe in those things. I don't believe in just doing things to make points.
...I guess that's not really beyond the self, is it? But looking at the world honestly is important, too. Ultimately, I suppose it all reflects back on you, and so, in a way, it's all part of you, even as it extends beyond you. (I'm sorry if I've lost all of you in my rambling here...).
The last thing I thought of to mention is improvisation. I don't always know everything I believe, and I'm usually uncomfortable making across-the-board declarations. But as situations come up, I try and understand how I really feel about them, and I base my decisions on that. I remember a time some years ago when I first started dating. A friend of mine asked me a number of questions about my hashkafic beliefs and to each of them I stupidly answered, "I don't know..." To a lot of those questions, I'd still probably fumble around with some sort of incoherent answer, or just say I don't really know, because the truth is, I really don't know. Not hypothetically. But in actual situations, I find myself feeling certain ways, and then I'm not always as ignorant and lost about my beliefs as I am when trying to think about them on a hypothetical plane.
...I don't think what I'm trying to say is actually coming out right. I'm just thinking out loud, really. Most of these ideas are not mine, or not mine originally, but belong to other people who have inspired me. And who knows, maybe those people will say the ideas belong to people who've inspired them, or belong to humanity as a whole. Either way, I believe I'm a better, stronger person because of these (and other) ideas.
In some ways, growth hurts. It's like emotional and spiritual growing pains. It hurts to feel lost and confused and distraught. And, later, it hurts to feel others stepping away, giving you the space you need to pedal forward on your own. But I suppose it's just a change of relationship, really. They're not going away. They're just shifting places. Or maybe you are. Side-by-side instead of one supporting the other. Maybe.
For some people, my thoughts, my ideas, my opinions, the way I am will probably never really be quite good enough. The things I say, the way I think, my relationships, my performance...they're all always going to be...not quite there. Missing something. Needing something more.
I've learned not to care (much) about that. I can't. It only brings me down. Besides, the point isn't to be good enough for someone else. It's to be good enough for myself.
Where am I going with this? Have I confused everyone?