My stream of consciousness: Unplugged edition
I don’t know if you’re paying attention to what has been going on in the world lately. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. If you have not, let me tell you – there is some crazy scary stuff going down. And I don’t say that to make light of some very serious situations, but simply because I’m having trouble processing the information that I read in the news each morning.
Sometimes – a lot of times – I write “fluff” blog posts. Random, almost pointless ramblings about the most mundane and irrelevant things that I happen to be thinking about. And then I read the news headlines and I feel like an idiot because I just published a post about puggles and then saw this.
I don’t know how to synthesize. Finding the middle ground has always been a challenge for me. I know how to see things in extreme: I can debate both sides of the issue. But I can’t reconcile both sides of the issue together. So, lately, I find that I am self-consciously self-editing. I’ll make small talk with you. I can ask you how you’re doing, how your day was, what you did this week, etc. I’ll make small talk on my blog. I’ll write about the family dog, or the contents of my purse, or the wine bottle lamps that I’m making (my dad and I made one, incidentally, and it’s pretty cool). I’ll share funny videos and articles. Maybe I’ll throw in the occasional slightly-more-introspective-but-still-very-cliche-surface-level post about kindness. As if those things are what I spend the bulk of my time thinking about. As if my character could be reduced to a sort of two-dimensional self-centeredness. And I don’t say that as some sort of humble-brag about how I’m actually such a deep person.
My point is that the capacity for depth exists in all of us. But we don’t know what to do with that. At least, I don’t.
I believe that we are all created in the image of God, which means that, whether are not you embrace the faith that is true Christianity, we all are capable of reflecting facets of God’s image and that we are all complex beings. When I talk about my own depth, it is not a comparison statement – a weighing of myself against those around me. Rather, I am evaluating what I reflect against the knowledge that has been given to me. How am I using what I have been given? Am I using what I have been given? Or am I self-editing because I am afraid? Or worse, because I don’t know how to stop self-editing?
After all, if I write a post about puggles, you can turn around and say, “That was a really dumb post, Katie,” and I can be impervious to your criticism because, guess what? – I already know that it’s a dumb post. You’re telling me what I already know.
But if I write a post about something I really care about – my faith, my political views, my ethical views, my views about depression, pain, mental health, heck – even nutrition and exercise – then I am bound to offend someone. And if you turn around and challenge me on those posts, then it hurts. And it gets scary. And then I want to hide.
I will only share what does not matter to me, that way if you don’t like it, it does not matter to me.
I guess that’s the plight of the people-pleaser. I learned pretty early in life how to be a good chameleon: I figured out which parts of myself to reveal to which people, and adapted myself accordingly to various scenarios.
And when I can’t read the situation, then I err on the side of caution. Read: self-editing. Read: small talk. Read: “fluff.”
And now it kind of just happens automatically. It’s weird – I truly take my cues from the other person(s), to the point of adjusting my tone, volume, speech patterns, etc. to match theirs. I think that’s kind of creepy. My therapist tells me that it’s a useful skill in therapy – that counselors actually take classes and receive training to learn how to do that, because it fosters a better sense of connection and relating with the client. Which then raises the question: in our sessions, is she adjusting to match me, or I to match her?
But it still leaves the unanswered question of what I would sound like, act like if I had no one against which to adjust myself. I want to be well-rounded, well-thought-out, well-spoken. But I also want to be well-liked, well-received, and well-regarded. Okay, that last one was slightly redundant, but I was really going to for the parallelism effect. Also, the word “well” sounds weird to me now.
My point is that…. I don’t know.
I don’t know what my point is.
For me, there is a disconnect between the conception of a thought and the expression of it. I don’t think in complete sentences. I think in abstract fragments, emotional impressions, one-liners, and visual images. Writing allows me to harness my thoughts into a (hopefully) coherent content. But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes my thoughts come out in jagged attempts at linear cohesion and all I can do is gesture hopelessly and sputter: “Puggles… world crises… it doesn’t add up… why am I acting so shallow?… God help us all.”