I read Eve's post wherein she divulges her secret "Try Harder" sign, (which providentially fell behind the stereo--leave it there) and Anne's groundbreaking comments on it. Is it always appropriate to tell ourselves to try harder? Even if it means molding ourselves into someone who is very uncomfortable to be? A person we don't recognize as truly us?
I believe women, especially, have to fight the battle between who we really are, and who we believe we should be--according to some gimcrack nonsense we are fed from birth that's a combination of caveman economics, runway-model physics, and perceived or real sexism. What's strange is we may grow up liberal and free, meeting men equally, receiving respect, and enjoying autonomy. Yet, there's this subliminal interference going on as we grow up in post-modern society in which our brains sabotage us, forcefeeding us the gimcrack bandersnatch.
I'm always trying to change me. I don't remember a time when I wasn't admonishing myself to do it differently, do it better, do it like someone I admire, do it right already. There are continual messages to morph into someone I am not; never have been that person, never should even think of being that person. Just be me.
Who am I?
I don't think I could take it if I had craft paper banners telling me to try harder, either. It's one thing to try to be a better person; as in, character development--kindness, generosity, helpfulness--and it's another thing to try to sound different, come across to others different, look different, and generally pull off an act of being who we think that others think we should be, that we know we are not, but yet...there we go. Trying to be that other person who is successful, smart, hip, cool, classy, social, a winged Mother Theresa laid over with Hollywood beauty, bucked with latent Stewartism, and cruising with class while conquering the masses.
So Anne says to recognize how our brains mess with us. Before she said this, I had never thought to stand back away from my brain as if it is a malcontented object causing me trouble. Chastise it? Stand off and disconnect my personality from all of the intellectualizing, rationalization, pressure-cooking, and all out guiltfest trips my brain takes me on? You mean, fight my brain (for just a moment) like it's the enemy?
I'm taking a philosophy class about Healthcare Ethics. Talk about your hotbed of controversy. But today's reading really helped me to realize something close to what Anne says to Eve. The case study is about a man with a wife and several children. One of the children is terminally ill with kidney disease. She received a kidney transplant and her body rejected it. Her illness has affected her and the entire family for years. They've learned to live around it. The father finds out that he has tested okay, that one of his kidneys could be transplanted to his daughter with a fair chance of success, but also with a big chance the transplant procedure would fail again.
He refuses. WHAT? He refuses, confidentially to the pediatrician, to give up his kidney. He asks the doctor to lie to his family for him and tell them his tests were negative, he can't be a donor. She refuses to lie. So, he says he will lie himself, because if he told the truth, it "would break his family beyond repair." His reasons? He has thought long and hard and has gauged his long-term importance to his entire family--not just one child--and determined that he cannot take the risks involved. He has to consider that he is the breadwinner, stabilizer, and strong leader, and he cannot jeopardize his life because that means he jeopardizes the future of his entire family.
The article goes on to conclude that all of us have two moral battles to fight in every issue that shows up in our lives. We have the issues of individuality, and the issues of communitarianism (our place within our community). We are often torn between what is right for us, and what is right for our community. It is very normal to feel like we don't want to sacrifice our individual morals for the sake of the community's morals. Maybe deciding for the higher good ruins our good, ruins any good we might contribute period. Sometimes, though, we do decide to sacrifice our individual self for the good of community.
For example, as parents, we are taught? it's ingrained? it's genetics? that as a parent we will do whatever it takes, make any sacrifice without question, for our child. It's a given in our society. Yet, what about us and who we are?
The advice given to this man was: Ask yourself not "what should I be, what sort of life should I lead?" but "Who Am I?"
It's been six months since my daughter's father died. My family had some very mean and unforgiveable responses to my grief and feelings surrounding his death. We still are not repaired amongst ourselves--two relationships are severed. I have been feeling guilty, like my anger and grief over his death caused great upset to other "innocent" people and this is my fault alone. I have been hung up on the "community" around me, and how they perceive the situation and how they have given me messages that I'm wrong, and they are right. How their messages that my behavior, actions, and words were inappropriate and hostile, and how I accepted wholesale that they, as the group of people around me, were right.
What about my moral truth as an individual? I've been drug down into this pit of self and communal flagellation because I never stopped to ask who I really am in all of this. I never stopped to fully comprehend that my grief is completely separate and distinct, indigenous to me alone as an individual, and as such very valuable.
Who I am is so different than who those other people think I should be. Many times in my life, I need to stop and remember: This is a time for checking in on me and seeing what I think, what I believe, and what I know is true. For me. So that, being me, I can then be a healthy part of a community. I want to exercise control over my brain and its naughty messages.
Who I am should decide who I be.