I once heard that if you intend to be good at something, you should repeat it to yourself as if you are, and not as if you wish to be. The intent to be isn’t always followed up by action, but by stating that you are what you wish to be, you condition yourself to behave as that, rather than who you are, or were. At the time of hearing this I was particularly poor at professional networking, and I recall using that as the statement of conviction for myself. As part of that exercise I stated quite boldly, “I am adept at professional networking!” I don’t think it worked.
I still suck at it, but I do venture into that space more readily than before. However, at the risk of potentially contradicting what I said in The Placebo Effect, I think when we tell ourselves that we are something we’re not, but we have a sincere intention of achieving it, it prompts us to consciously act within the behavioural norms of that which we wish to be, rather than in the ways that may have inhibited our progress in that direction. I think it’s called cognitive dissonance.
With this in mind, I’ve recently been bold enough to tell people that I’m a part time writer. Only problem is, I know I say it with a lacking conviction. I’m more a rambler than I am a writer. Having a collection of thoughts with a reasonable grasp of the language is hardly the makings of a writer. In attempting to start in earnest on a book recently, I realised the discipline and monotony involved in seeing such a project through.
I’ve always quipped that if ever I wrote a book, I would sit down, start, and continue non-stop for a few days until I was done. I think a few years ago that may have still been possible, but given the level of noise and clutter now, it’s just a pipe dream.
My thoughts are lacking in congruence now, and setting out for such an endeavour leaves me filled with frustration and impatience rather than a sense of composed expression. The result is a lot of noise that echoes my mental state rather than creating the clarity or comfort of being sufficiently expressed. In this state, making the bold statement that I am a writer leaves me feeling conflicted and insincere, rather than authentic.
I sometimes read through my previous rambles and often cannot recognise it as being a part of me. People sometimes quote me in their correspondence to me and I end up agreeing with them as if it’s a point they made, which must seem quite superficial for them. If only they knew that my own words and thoughts often feel foreign to me. For this reason, among many others, I find it increasingly difficult to define myself as a writer, part-time or otherwise. In fact, I find it difficult to define myself at all. Such definition must dictate consistency, and consistency is something I do not subscribe to outside of my spheres of responsibility or duty.
I guess the question relating to what I am will remain unanswered for the foreseeable future. Perhaps forever. Perhaps I’ll never afford the comfort to those around me to allow them to perceive me as a complete and finite being. Maybe in that lies part of the problem, not just for me but for all of us faced with this same question. If it was not for our need to be perceived as a specific being, we would have no need to define ourselves. I can only imagine that such absence of definition will be liberating and congruent with the nature of things around us, because it will afford a level of adaptability that definition, by definition, denies us. What a futile pursuit it is to feel compelled to act against our nature simply because the frailty of society dictates that such behaviour is necessary for predictable outcomes.