I've been thinking a lot lately about personal narratives--the stories I tell myself and others about who I am in order to (wittingly or unwittingly) make my life look and feel coherent and permissible. I suspect I waste a lot of energy worrying whether something I've done, or might do, conforms to these stories. This is one of the reasons that creating online profiles is both appealing and daunting. On the one hand, it allows me to craft a little avatar who can go out into the world and give a pitch. "Hey, check it out! This is who I am! Love me!" The problem is, each time I set out to create, I worry about blasting whatever goodwill I've built up to smithereens. "Will the people who've been reading my blog, my posts, my tweets hate what I'm doing now and go away? Will they ever want to read my stories?"
I don't feel good about self-consciously manipulating the image I put out into the world, but I don’t seem to be able to stop sending myself out into the world in a way that is hemmed in by my fear of driving people away. This often puts me in a bit of a paralytic bind, and as I suspect I'm not the only one who gets stuck like this, I've decided to share the letter I just received from Logomancer Swami Prajnaparamita. Swami's letters never have any postage on them, but they always seem to get here, and right on time for that.
I've picked up your troubled vibrations. Let me say first that you do not have anything to fear. It is impossible for you to do any real injury to yourself. You know this, but you forget.
Do not fret over your attempts to control the way others perceive you. It is not unhealthy to want to be liked, and it is unlikely that you will ever cease to think about your image. It does not matter that some people will take what you are saying too literally and construct a straw man of who you are from your ideas. This has no effect on you. You encompass your ideas and not the other way around. Some people will understand this, and others will not. This is beyond your control.
I give you permission to write what is on your mind. This is what writers do. To be human is to be misunderstood, but being misunderstood does not mean you are alone. Welcome all misunderstanding as an opportunity to expand your limited notion of what is yours, for everything you think and perceive is yours, and you do not need to cut any of it away. We suffer only when we try to exclude certain facets of our experience, including those which do not conform to the most flattering portrait we’d like to paint of ourselves.
Thanks, Swami. I'll try not to take the voice that second guesses my motivations any more seriously than the motivations themselves. Truly, I have much to learn.
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