I thought I would shape my identity in the same way I shape gingerbread cookies. Namely: knead the dough real good, throw it down on the counter top, roll to 1/4’’ thick, and then go to town with the cookie cutters. Turns out I don’t like being kneaded, thrown, or rolled.
Remarkable the differences between gingerbread and people if you look close enough.
When I was in the third grade I wanted to be a painter. Then it was a singer, writer, lawyer, and theoretical physicist. But it was never just the career that I wanted. No, I wanted to BE the characters I’d read about. WIth painting I wanted to be the morose, misunderstood Van Gogh, then the brooding James Joyce, and then wield the panache and intelligence of Feynman.
Turns out I’m not Joyce. For one, I’m not Irish or an alcoholic.
At every stage of my life I’ve constructed these utterly rigid ideas of the person I ought to become, complete with grandiose ideals of What I Ought Give Back to the World.
That shit is way too fancy and vague.
So now I want to be a real love coach. You’d think I’d have learned something since the third grade, but apparently I still think that means I have to turn myself into Greg Baer, my surrogate father. Because he started the real love organization? Because he’s almost infinitely more selfless than I with his years of practice? Who knows, honestly. Who knows. But the fact remains that I don’t have a medical degree, and I’m not a 60 year old white male with back problems.
I must have some real difficulty believing that I could possibly be of any value to the world as myself. Really though, I was born. What more of a permission slip do I need to evolve fearlessly into whoever I will become? I know I want to be a real love coach and I know I want to continue writing because they feel right.
So stick with right now. Keep listening for what feels right and keep doing it. And shut up about all these stupid qualities you think you ought have or ways you think you ought conduct yourself. You knit, enjoy home decor, and want to raise six children. Could be wrong, but I’m fairly sure you are uniquely different from your artistic muses in that respect. Make gingerbread for Christmas and eat it, but leave it where it belongs: in the kitchen. You don’t need to live your life that way.