One of the biggest but toughest things I attempt in life is to remain consistent. But as I have written about (and thought about even more)…. Consistency isn’t perceived as consistent for everyone.
With some people, I am steadfast and completely consistent in my actions and words. With others, I come across as a total flake and don’t follow through on things – and even then it comes down to so many factors. Was it important to me in the first place? Probably less so than it was for the person who was expecting something from me. Was I in a place where I could deliver? Probably not.
“Someday is today”
But I am becoming more aware of my behaviors and the mismatches in what I say and do – and to whom I make statements that will come across as most inconsistent. Where I am particularly bad – and selfish – is when I tell people that things will calm down in a few weeks or months and then I will have time for them. This is flat-out wrong. It is possible that in a few weeks I will have more time because X will end. But I am 99.8% likely to take on something new in the intervening time, so by the time those weeks pass, I will – once again – not be free. And it is not as though I am prioritizing one friend over another. No, I am prioritizing work or study over the friend, and this all depends on where the friend is in the world. If seeing them would involve my having to travel, I don’t have the energy for it any more… so I don’t do it. It’s shitty – but this is just how and who I am now. I need to make my words match up with what I do and want to do.
And I need to do this now because, as one of those hopeless, simplistic, but nevertheless kind of thought-provoking, internet memes chides: “Someday is today”. Yes, all those things we postpone and put off – all those “somedays” need to happen right now. I am a master of “I’ll do it later”. There are so many ways I have fixed this, so many things I am willing to do or not do, let go of or hold onto now in a more decisive way than I ever thought I’d be capable of. But there are still plenty of gaps in my seizing today, particularly when it is uncomfortable to do so. Sure, some of it would be easy to remedy: do something uncomfortable and unlike myself. But some is not as easy, especially when it involves other people and potentially hurting them, confusing them. The alternative, though, is to slowly succumb to the erosion of having them in my life, letting them believe I am okay with how their presence and words affect me.
“People would have fewer pains if – God knows why they are made this way – their imaginations were not so busily engaged in recalling past trials rather than bearing an indifferent present.” -Goethe
I thought a lot about the pervasive and persistent influence of the past, its people and its events recently because I have been confronted by words of anger, annoyance and frustration regarding distant and not-distant pasts, but I find I don’t believe that the anger or annoyance is as real or as fervent as claimed. The purported anger and annoyance leads to behaviors I myself might have engaged in at some point, following curiosities that are best left put to rest, leaving all options open… who knows why?
In some distant past, I didn’t love myself enough to leave the past well enough alone, opening the door wider to those elements that made me feel more alive, even if it was only because it was making me feel more annoyed. As though by knowingly inflicting pain and hurt I could at least pat myself on the back for feeling something. But that time in my life is long gone. Even if I understand it in others as viscerally and completely as though it were me living through these contradictions of words and action, I say if something is that annoying, close the door. Lock the door. Don’t open it and explore the knocking that keeps getting louder. Without going into details, which are irrelevant, it occurred to me finally that these deeply human but very dangerous questions have long been out of my life, so I don’t need them snaking their way into my life through someone else. I want to be able to know that when someone close to me tells me something, it is the unnuanced truth, not a sanitized version that will sound best for the therapist – that the actions following the words are not going to be completely contradictory. Ultimately I don’t have time – or trust – when faced with the mismatch.
Cheerleaders or bullies
A recent Tweet from an acquaintance posed the question: “What could we achieve if our inner voices were cheerleaders and not bullies?” and I pulled that out to retweet.
A key question: “(What could we achieve if our inner voices were cheerleaders and not bullies?)” https://t.co/3xazQrV6aY
— Erika Wolfe (@ErikaWolfeel) May 24, 2019
This question is applicable in so many phases of life, whether in love, in learning or in work, it is also applicable to how we live, what we accept as a part of our living, and the people we surround ourselves with. We can be bullied by our own inability to speak up for ourselves, by being silent when we are dissatisfied with or hurt by what we hear or receive (or don’t) from others.
And expecting consistency from others, and demanding it from oneself, is a place to start.