Why is it so hard for me to write something honest? So much of what fiction I write rings with insincerity. I used to think perhaps it has to do with my choice of genre which is so often speculative fiction. But all fiction derives its power from the reality it is interpreting. My words just ring hollow sometimes. My style seems so contrived. I have a way with words, yes. But does that amount to me being a writer, much less a good one?
Have you ever watched yourself in a video? I don’t mean a video where you’re acting or reciting something prepared. I mean a video of you just being you, without artifice. Its disturbing. I mean, we all mythologize ourselves. But the size of the gap between what I imagine myself to be on my best days and what I actually am astounds me. I think if I met myself I wouldn’t like myself. I’d be annoyed by myself. And I don’t mean just the big things. I mean the little things, too. I have this really annoying way of pursing my lips. And my smile is lop-sided, in a non adorable way. My stare is disconcertingly smug. I have an air of forced reserve combined with hearty brusqueness and nervous insecurity that is really grating. I could be cute, if I wanted. That is the only kind of attractive I ever could be, if I abandoned those personality traits that cancel out and indeed, make a grotesque joke out of any potential cuteness. Such as that empty intensity. But who the hell wants to be cute? I hate cute. Cute is the thing I never aspired to. I would rather be ugly and loud than cute.
I so often state, to others and myself, that I don’t care what people think. It’s so comforting to think that. Then you don’t have to feel miserable when others judge you and don’t like you, or, worst of all, don’t think much of you. It’s empowering in a way.
But what if all that bravado is built on a lie? If I don’t care what people think it means I don’t think their opinions are worth changing my behaviour for. But what if their opinions are right? What if I’m an annoying, sanctimonious, lazy, uptight, angry little person with little wit and no banter? What if all the things I thought were good about me don’t really exist at all. And what if the rest of my life I have to choose between these two horrible options: either always maintain that facade of being a cute, pleasant, kind, non-confrontational, calm person I’ve actually already perfected until I’m basically everything I hate, or embrace my annoying personality and instincts and be left with a few people who love me and no one who really likes me?
(One thing is certain. Throughout it all, narcissism will prevail.)
Because this is my life right now. This is my big problem. I have people, wonderful people, that love me. But I’m beginning to suspect that no one really likes me anymore. And I love myself — I always have, because I’m an aspiring writer and this grants me vanity if nothing else — but I’m beginning to wonder if I ever liked myself. I keep doing things to ‘improve’ myself. I think I’ve matured and grown and learnt and changed. But then suddenly a mirror pops up, and I have to laugh at how ridiculous I really am.
Ah, well. Maybe a little dose of revelatory self-ridiculousness is good in the long run.