Wednesday, October 6, 2010

a nice bit o' navel gazing never hurt anyone...right?

watch out, folks. this space is rapidly becoming a forum for all things psychological---an outlet for the myriad new thoughts my psych coursework is engendering, and a place for some self-indulgent self-analysis.

what fascinates me most about psychology is the uniqueness of each individual: the ways in which we are consistent, and the ways in which we alter over time. the ways we adjust to life's demands and the ways we fail to adjust. the place that I, and many of those I am close to, suspect that I am stuck is in the developmental phase of generativity. productiveness. procreation. this is the time of my life when i vacillate most strongly between poles of self-absorption/stagnation and creativity/citizenship. those of you who visit here frequently are probably already aware of my somewhat conflicted attitude towards motherhood; this conflict extends throughout all productivity-related aspects of my life. career, writing output, all those outward forms of investing one's life energy in lasting ways--they are the most likely to suffer from self-sabotage.

isn't it interesting that i can know this and yet still persist in self-defeating behavior? i wonder frequently where i learned this behavior; somewhere along the line i must have experienced positive reinforcement for holding myself back. i wonder if i can un-condition it. it would be an interesting experiment: to reward myself for every act of creation, every focused step toward productivity, every act of nurture...rewards that would compensate for the loss of immediate gratifications such as sleep, indolence, and even the subconscious fears of what success would mean.

it interests me, too, that so many of my female friends are stuck in the same place. we are child-women, unwilling to commit to one form of life for fear of selling ourselves short; unwilling to mature fully for fear of becoming stodgy or dated. we struggle with the selflessness that raising children demands of us and the lack of support for the selfish behaviors that used to characterize our lives. the role of a woman these days is awfully ambiguous: everything is possible, or so we are told, but the support systems are not in place for the realistic achievement of these possibilities. and so, we are always falling short. i can see how this might lead to an unwillingness to "grow up" and face the impossible expectations; better to develop a self-identity of vacillation than to solidly fail at the goals one has set for oneself.

And yet elusiveness---the quality of remaining noncommittal; the quality of refusing to be pinned down---is a defense mechanism. It can't ever take us anywhere; it masks the central conflict here, the conflict between human capability and societal expectation. I know exactly where I learned my elusiveness---it was adult-onset, and the very clear product of marriage to an incredibly opinionated and judgemental spouse. Now i am slowly, carefully, unlearning it, allowing myself to both have and express opinions. even when they are, sometimes, wrong. even when they alienate others. even then.

and i find myself almost giddy with it....skipping through the leaves, sketching the sky, carrying on animated conversations with strangers. it is amazing how energizing the simple act of holding an opinion can be. the energy it frees is tremendous.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, yeah. I like this book, especially the way you explain myself to me. I really want to do that last paragraph. That sounds fun. I have to say that I was craving some kind of graph or visual to go with it. But that's just me because I have an MFA.