pretending

I found myself surrounded by a group of pretenders. Pretending to be who they thought everyone else wanted them to be. No, these weren’t the social clichés of hipsters or rappers or emos or anything like that. These were a group of women in their late 20s and early 30s – mostly single, professional, “stable” women – and they were pretending to be who they weren’t. They were hiding their own truth in order to fit in with each other. Seeing them interact with each other made me quite uncomfortable because I didn’t want to be like them and just try to “fit in” with their discussions. There was nothing really wrong with their discussions or their topics for discussion, just they weren’t being true to themselves and true to each other. I could feel this, see this, hear this, know this. It was like they were speaking in a false code that helped them identify as a social group that was different. Listening to their words but watching their actions (and hearing about their actions) was difficult – I wanted to scream at them to “be real!”, but it just wouldn’t happen. I felt very outside of conversation and outside of the little group they had created despite having been invited to join them.

Just being there and feeling their lies made me wonder what this world has come to in order for these beautiful young women to distrust themselves so much that they lie to each other just to fit in. I sat there wondering how I could contribute to the discussion and when I realised that I had nothing to contribute because I couldn’t lie like that: I just watched and listened. There were some blatantly obvious lies, as well; not about little things like how much they spent on something or what they ate for lunch (which they were not truthful about), but about big “life” issues – children, marriage, commitment…

For example, one woman was ten weeks pregnant and was telling the others to never get pregnant – it’s the worst thing ever – and that she never wanted to be pregnant. At all. Ever. Five minutes later, she mentioned that she had maternity leave written into her work contract four years ago. Four. It was something that she actively decided to do and that she planned to do because her boss was “impossible at best”, so she had to get it written into the contract. In another discussion a little while later, she talked about how easy it was to give up drinking, smoking, caffeine, processed meat, soft cheeses, long distance travel, and whatever else. She said she had no side effects, no bad moods, no cravings. This was coming from a woman who had been the typical “life of the party” girl who was never seen without a cigarette or a drink in her hand; someone who lived from coffee to coffee and cigarette break to cigarette break. Yet, as soon as she realised she was pregnant, *poof* she’s given up everything. So many people cannot give up just one of these things, let alone all of them. (Even if they really want to; even if they have strong motivation like creating another life inside them; even if it was a life-and-death situation.) If she didn’t care about her unborn child and if she didn’t want to be pregnant, why would she give all of this up? I’ve known others who did everything that they could to end their pregnancy early because they didn’t want to be pregnant. Here, a woman who claims to not want children, to hate being pregnant, to be dreading the next eighteen or twenty years of her life, she is doing her best to provide the safest and healthiest home for her unborn child. Is this not a contradiction between her actions and her words?

The list of blatant lies told in this conversation goes on – it really does. I spent most of those two hours just sitting in shock and wondering how this group of women would react if I told them exactly what I was thinking. Or if I told them that they were basing their friendship and conversations on lies. If they truly looked at themselves and truly allowed themselves to be who they are, then they would be shocked – more shocked than I was when I was listening to them. Really.

I wonder how we have gotten to this place – to a place where being honest with ourselves, and one another, is regarded as being a social taboo.

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Living Vicariously

Why is vicarious living so popular? I often find myself living vicariously through others and I often hear others living vicariously through me. Why is this phenomenon becoming so common? Shouldn’t we all be living our own lives rather than dreaming of others’ lives? Perhaps if we focused more on our own life, we would see how wonderful it really is!

A great example for me today was when I was mentioning how it’s difficult to work remotely because others often forget that I have to work. (This can be quite frustrating – I’m trying to work, but I keep getting interrupted!) Then it was pointed out that I can work remotely – how amazing is that?!? At the moment, I’m not tied to a specific geographic location, but rather just a location in the “ether” that is the Internet. That means I can be anywhere in the world (theoretically) and do my job that has a physical location somewhere else. This is more than amazing – it is wonderful! But then I got back onto the topic of how others think I’m on vacation because I’m not at my desk 1000 km away. Again, it was pointed out to me – how wonderful is that?!? That my desk can be 1000 km away, but I’m still working and I don’t have to take vacation to be close to the ones I love! This is truly amazing – and I don’t want to change it for anything. Not yet, anyway. So, there are others who want to live vicariously through me because of this situation. That’s cool. But if they focused on their own lives, they would see how cool that is: they have a loving family, a loving home, a beautiful home, an amazing connection to their true selves… Things I wish I had – so I started living vicariously through them… Until I remembered how terrific my own life is…

I sometimes get lost in the ideas of the “perfect life” and wonder if it will ever happen to me. I see others in their “perfect lives” and wish I were them, or at least I try to live vicariously through their stories and their lives. I forget that I have my own wonderful life that many others wish they had – and some do live vicariously through me. But I think that if we concentrated on our own lives more, we wouldn’t feel the need to live vicariously through others; that we’d be happier with our own lives and realise how amazing we are every day.

I guess I’m trying to say that in a time of “open access” to others’ lives, we need to make the conscious effort to acknowledge and live our own lives. Our own lives are the ones that create our memories, our path, and our enjoyment in life. By concentrating more on our own lives, we can enhance our experiences and become more thankful for what we are living each day. If we can be more thankful and appreciative, then I think we are further along the path that we should follow. In line with this way of thinking, I read a wonderful sentence today and think that it makes a great quote:

The true path is chosen by our ability to love it, not to suffer for it.

let it begin!

So, after a reasonable absence from the blogosphere, I plan on coming back with a vengeance… A good one, though… A positive outlook is all that I need and I can do anything. That much, I know. When I get on a positive roll, then it all just flows like a raging river – the thoughts, the ideas, the concepts, the actions, the results – all there, all good, all positive… I’m ready to provide some kick-ass experiences for some very unsuspecting students… Just wait until they actually try to wrap their head around the new look, new feel, new mode of study – all completely interactive, completely engaging, completely immersing, completely authentic, and completely real… it’s going to blow minds and create quite a stir among the ‘traditional’ academics… but so be it – I am here to bring change and bring university learning into the 21st century… at least, that’s how i see my role here and how i want to see it… others see me as ‘that new upstart’, but i see that as such a powerful place to be – i can change it all because no one has any preconceptions about me and my style… bring it on, i say… bring it on!!!