Au naturel or contour? Will painting my nails make me feel pretentious? Can I do the make-up without the wardrobe or hair? Do I want to drink wine and play board games tonight or read until 2AM?
I have these small conflicts with myself almost every day. It kind of starts with who do I feel like today – do I feel like I want to instil the fear of God into those who look at me or do I want to come off as more approachable? Am I staying at home and writing or am I doing something more social?
These questions aren’t of any great significance. They’re the tools I use to navigate the many parts of myself – the part of me that is comfortable in shorter-alls and no-make up, and the part of me that wants to put on heels and black lipstick and drink tequila.
But then there’s also the part that likes black turtlenecks, glasses, and reading in cafes. And the one that enjoys flowing dresses and floppy hats. I could go on about the different attitudes and fashions I contain, but that’s not the point.
I’m confident in every aspect of myself. I’m comfortable in the different parts of me – just not every one, every day. Some days I feel like I’m not being “real” enough if I want to paint my nails and look pretty. Some days I feel frumpy if I want to wear a grey t-shirt and my hair in a bun – again. There are times I get so frustrated trying to pin-point the combination of myself that I fit that I have a panic attack.
These versions of myself are ultimately about things that are skin deep; seemingly outside of myself. But the root of these branches of personality are a little more complex.
I believe in multitudes. I believe I can be intelligent, political, well read, well spoken; do yoga, drink enough water every day, eat the rainbow, wash my hair once a week, wear no make-up; use fuck every sentence, make dirty inappropriate jokes, wear dark lipstick, bake and eat an entire pie, wear the same shirt for 3 days straight, get so high that I order pizza and forget to tell my friends before it arrives; write every day, keep my apartment clean, save money, run a blog, maintain healthy relationships, get a good nights sleep, bike to work, run a couple times a week; take time to soak in the bath, do face masks, paint my toes, watch a whole movie all the way through, and go for leisurely walks in the park. But also sometimes I want to get really ridiculously drunk at a bar with my friends and dance and eat shwarma and go for brunch the next day in sweat pants with my make up still on. I want to be someone that no one wants to fuck with but that anyone can feel they can talk to.
So, maybe all of those things don’t necessarily contradict each other. Maybe, that’s really not all that complicated when it’s laid out like that and compartmentalized with little semi-colons. But it’s hard to balance all those things. Plus all the other things that I didn’t mention because there’s just too. Fucking. Much. I want too many things for myself. I will never be able to chose or to give anything up and it stresses me out because it’s really hard when you want to get kind of fucked up on drugs but also really think that doing yoga and calling your grandma sound like equally good options to fit your mood as well.
The good news is there is a lot of room for ebb and flow. The bad news is it’s really hard to implement new things. And I love new things. Hell yes I want to learn to skate board, sew, start a band, etc. But I also want to hone my skills as a writer and learn how to be more quiet and compassionate.
So how do we do it? How do we look at ourselves and go “wow, I am so many things. I want to be more!” without, in a way, giving up the time we want to spend on what we are on being new things? Where do we learn what to invest when?
Perhaps, you shouldn’t be too critical, and should have no fears. Faults? You have many, but they really don’t matter. I don’t think they matter. Or perhaps they are unavoidable human limitations—yours! I have been struck lately by the fact that we can do this and that, but we are always the same. Most people, however, don’t begin to get out what’s in them. When some one does that as you have and gotten out more than even you probably imagined was there, it seems absurd to carp at little faults. – Robert Lowell, from a letter to Anne Sexton c. December 1961
Because it is expensive buying a bunch of make-up and then going through a phase where I don’t want to wear it for 2 weeks. Or buying that incredible dress that is so you, but only the you that you are once every couple of months. Do you get what I’m saying?
Not that this is a money thing, but more a navigation of how much AM I thing. This is something thats become important to me less while I’m at home and a lot more while travelling because I am not the kind of person who feels right wearing jeans when I know I should be wearing a dress. Even though 19/20 days I do fucking love wearing jeans. But it’s hard to pack up all of the things that you are in a suitcase and in trying to do that you realize that you just don’t know what you’re going to need and when – which is one of the challenges of vast multitudes.
I don’t think the answer lays in becoming less things. I’m not going to spend my life becoming lesser, I want to spend my life exploring and expanding until there is a part of me that feels a little more at home somewhere else in the world. Which also sounds kind of awful in a way that I like. And I want to do all of these things without any of the aspects lessening one another; to be able to paint my nails when I feel like it even if i take it off an hour later, and to have days where I don’t feel like drinking coffee, and moments where I am calm and serene but also moments where I’m passionate and full-force.
The point is, I think this daily little conflicts give me the space to explore and be who I want to be. That I can ask myself questions, don’t have a specific part of myself that is designated for anything is truly something awesome. I get to slowly build and expand on these parts of myself without having to be defined by any one of them wholly. Really, I don’t want to be confined by myself, and I’m trying to work around how not look at these things as a burden when my suitcase is bursting and 10 pounds overweight.
Written by Forest Greenwell