I’ll start with the ending. The bottom line is that we all define ourselves by our associations. Political, perhaps. Personal, for sure. Supernatural, for those who partake. And I think, also, amongst the many different tribes we belong to or aspire to belong to, there’s always something that connects us back to where we came from. Time, distance, and experience all blur the edges, but because the past is more of a constant than the future, we fall back on it when we need to rationalise our place within it all. When we need to remind ourselves what we’re about, or, when we need to figure that out.
That said, it’s very much a contradiction for some. For those of us who are the lone wolves, either by design or by chance, and for those of us who’ve run from where we’re from. There’s a need to self-identify and self-motivate and to propel ourselves under our steam to a future of our own making. Independence is the fundamental principle of our very being because we’ve learned that reliance brings disappointment. So we travel alone and we build few connections. Our circles remain small and we don’t ever truly fit. How are we, the outsiders, to define ourselves?
Perhaps we are the free. Freedom is a consolation prize for failing to belong, but in a circular twist, it’s also the cause of our struggle to associate. It’s the cause of our loneliness, and we’re not inclined to let it go. Not because letting go means a loss of liberty, but because it means acquainting ourselves with vulnerability. It means confronting not only the doubts and insecurities of others, but also our own — especially our own. We’re most afraid of ourselves. We’re afraid we’re not good enough, that we can’t, that we don’t deserve, that we can never be loved for the awkward humans that we are. We want to find our equal but we’re just not comfortable being questioned.
There’s something about self-doubt that drives isolation and loneliness, and that too is a feedback loop. Pottering along on your own in an indefinite fashion lends itself to ideas about worthiness and potential and the balance of thoughts tends to be negative. I’m alone because I’m not good enough, and because I’m alone, and because I’m not good enough, I can never reach my full potential. It’s not possible to be the man I want to be, both because and is evidenced by my innate inability to love and be loved. It’s a trap and I think its presence is fairly constant, somewhere in a dark corner, threatening to consume me.
But, ruled not by my feelings but my rational processing of the world around me, I know, I do know, that no external person can save me from my myself. Meaning, and definition, and drive can only come from within. Inspiration and motivation can be applied by others to useful effect, if we put ourselves in the right contexts, but ultimately, it’s up to us. Lonely or not. Secure in our selves, or not. Daunted by the challenges of life, or not. We must press on and we must define ourselves by what we want to achieve in the future, rather than the people who surround us, or the people that don’t. We shouldn’t take more than an occasional and fleeting glance back to where we’re from, either, because the past — our past selves — provide nothing more than a benchmark to which we can measure our progress.
So, I started with an ending, but it’s not the ending I choose. I choose to continually rewrite, refine, and improve the ending based on what I now know, and what I want to know in the future. I choose to plan my path and build my future and define myself by where I want to go. Maybe that focus will pull me to a better place and perhaps I’ll pick up a partner en route, but I’m determined to love flying solo and I’m committing to forever being an individual; self-made, and self-defined.
Graham's blog: politics, poetry, and introspection