I guess I’m in high school, although I feel older (19, 20-ish). I’m walking around an immense academic building, with my brother D and a woman friend of his. We’re discussing 2 things: (1) in a folder, I’m carrying around a (paper) standardized-test-thingy that serves as an application for Stanford. I’ve missed the cutoff for the 2016 test, but I can just take the 2017 test. (2) I was supposed to be working on a paper all year, that’s due on Friday [today is Wednesday], and I haven’t started it yet. (It won’t be graded, but I have to turn something in.)
The paper I’ve supposed to have been working on all year is supposed to concern who I am as a person, and what I want (to accomplish).
I like the idea of the paper, but I don’t want to write it. I don’t even want to think about it, and indeed, I haven’t thought about it.
What I’m excited about is the Stanford test. That seems full of possibilities in a way that writing about myself does not.
[2 false starts, 400 words deleted]
This month’s experiment is turning out to be unexpectedly primal.
Knowing myself is its own authority. And that authority is salient in a way that ‘Stanford’ can never be.
Certainties are boring, while possibilities excite me.
Why does dream-me think of ‘who I am’ as being a certainty, while being judged by other human beings is somehow a tantalizing suite of possibilities? Isn’t my lived experience almost-exactly the opposite?
Pernicious. Persistent. Wrong.
I haven’t heard from Mrs. Nocerino [introject I inherited from my mother] in… years, I think… and yet, this is her style. Every assessment I make of my own worth, I first find other people to weigh in on, and then I interpret the data in the most unflattering, unprepossessing manner possible. And then I resign myself to having rediscovered that yes, I am a disgusting failure, at everything that counts. But I still have to ‘soldier on’, even in the midst of (utter) despair… otherwise, I’m a quitter, the (self-evidently) worst thing a person can be.
There’s a lot going on here.
If I stop deferring to outside authority figures, this whole Gordian knot dissolves.
But then I would need to devise my own standards. CRUX.
‘Standards’ isn’t even the type of concept that appeals to me much. It’s too rigid. It’s too persistent. It doesn’t take context into account enough.
What do I value?
- Learning, growth
- Surprise / Serendipity
- Friendship & affiliation
4 of these 5 contain Change. Friendship & affiliation, in my own experience for sure, mostly do not contain Change. They resist change.
So I leave people behind. Jobs, hobbies, places. Bits of identity. I’ve walked away from it all.
That gets me called a quitter. As if “consistency” and “predictability” should be one’s highest ideals.
The world changes. All the time. How can we not change with it?
What do I, personally, even know about Stanford? Nothing. So why does it persist in my unconscious as some sort of gold standard?
I probably won’t replace it, quite. A ‘gold standard’ is persistent and consistent.
I want to write.
Poetry. Painting. Creating sculptural things.
I want to be a fish.