Pretense

post by TurnTrout · 2018-07-29T00:35:24.674Z · score: 36 (14 votes) · LW · GW · 1 comments

There's a kind of yearning, to be that person who can do those things - this is self-actualization, yet corrupted. I often feel pulled in this way. I find myself wanting to be a certain person now, to be producing and being and feeling that way now, and I catch myself acting, speaking, signalling as if I were there now. As if I could make people happy by tiling the universe with smiley-faces.

There's a revulsion that comes with this, for me - the sense of wearing a heavy coat, of playing a role, of acting instead of connecting. At times, there is a desire to connect: I begin to speak earnestly, but then comes indecision, a "social acceptance" reflex blunting my emotions and diluting my speech. And then, pain, regret, and shame. Even now, it looms: Can I even post this?

There's a certain lightness I catch and wield, from time to time. The glimmer of a fresh idea, the flow of words straight from the heart through the fingertips, the carefree, liberating simplicity of dropping pretense in a conversation. Why is this so rare?

I feel now the staggering weight of a day's trivialities - the subconscious obeisances paid to circumstance and habit, the pretentious acting out of cached responses, the molding of personality to meet the Past's expectations. There are massive costs - in time, in experience, in moments.

And yet, focusing on "being oneself", one comes to fret whether they're doing it right, or enough, or too much. Self-consciousness takes over, and back on goes the coat.

After CFAR, there was a precious week when I channeled myself during these moments. Pain did not clear its desk for joy, but I paid attention. My life beat to a satisfied rhythm. I felt no urge towards trivial things, towards pretense.

Weeks passed, and I slowly forgot. My experience of the workshop faded into a collection of moments: quietly gazing at the furious red skyline; laughing and singing despite the iceberg inching closer; hearing, and being heard. Ever-so-close bonds loosened, and then crumbled a bit, their essence blown away into the now-yawning distances between us.

I want to take off the coat.

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comment by norswap · 2018-08-05T16:57:14.499Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Strong agree. I think one of the reason we're not always honest regarding our feelings (I'm not sure - maybe you're targeting something more specific here) is that it would be very tiresome if everyone were to do it. Everyone has pangs of sadness, despair and inadequacy, and that's bad enough - but imagine if you could hear those from everyone else as well?

That being said, I try to tend to more truthful. I don't try to impress people with something I don't believe is impressive. I disclose my misgivings about my own work, or popular things. Doing otherwise would feel to close to downright lying. But it isn't always well received. Even though I'm mild in my expression, there are many people who feel threatened (or more accurately, who feels their illusions threatened). There is a reason why we pretend we all know what we're doing and that all the children are above average.