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for lack of internal compass.

February 2, 2009

It’s been a while. I have been unable to write, ever since discovering that my voice wasn’t my own, I haven’t had a voice at all. I’ve been sitting at the computer typing and then deleting over and over again for the past week or so. I guess I should explain why my voice isn’t my own– that’s the next logical step in this line-up of letters…

It all started with the coolness factor. I realised that deep down (because on the surface you would never know) that I am afraid to be un-cool.

rude dog

Which is kinda ridiculous, because there aren’t many things that I do that (on a conscious level) are done to make other people think I’m cool. I guess in my mind coolness was something other than the people who hang out at Toast on 3rd St (for anyone who doesn’t know what it is, it’s a place where people wait for hours in line to eat a so-so breakfast to be “seen” with their big sunglasses and their little dogs and their lots of cigarettes). Cool, in my opinion was, well, what I was doing. Which causes a problem, because anything outside of said ‘realm of coolness’ makes one feel not-cool, and so if one is concerned with actually being cool, one is not likely to venture outside of one’s realm of coolness in any way whatsoever. In a way I am lucky that my realm of coolness extends far beyond that of the toast-goers. I mean, some of the outfits I venture out in get made fun of a bit. Some of the things I do get made fun of a bit. I always assumed it was in a “I wish I had the guts to wear that” kind of way… but then, I remember when I was 12 the same thing happened, and it was never because people wished they had the guts to wear what I was wearing (although I must say that my outfits were pretty damn cool), but more of a “you’re not dressing like us so you’re not cool”. And by the way, if you’re 12, don’t do that to people– it scars them for life. I dressed like everyone else for quite a few years after that.

So the coolness factor, for some reason, without my fully realising it, was governing my life. It had recently come to my attention that I might actually be NOT cool. My friend Lucie actually told me to just deal with the fact that I’m dorky and get over it. I couldn’t get over it. I have never felt (let’s change the word. Dorky is a horrible word with negative connotations) quirky. Or un-cool. When did I become un-cool? Which brings up an important thing: according to who? Who governs the rules on coolness? Who decides if certain things are cool and certain things aren’t. And even more importantly– WHY DO WE CARE?

My shamanteacher said that around 95% of the population are [deep down there] driven by their concern for coolness. Why?

Because we all want to be liked. I want to be liked. You want to be liked. I bet yo mamma wants to be liked too. And that’s a normal thing– each one of us wants love from external sources. I was thinking about what it would be like to be unconcerned with whether people like me or not, and I realised that if I am not receiving love from anybody else then I would have to be receiving it from somewhere, because the thought of not being loved is a very sad thing indeed. So where can this love come from?*

As I was driving to school the other day, I was thinking about when I first started to become concerned with coolness. I was on a school trip to some museum. We were allowed to wear our own clothes for once. My role model at the time was Claudia from “The Babysitter’s Club”, which, if you didn’t read as a kid, I am sorry because you’ve missed out. But just in case, here is a picture:


(I’ve read this one, by the way, and it’s really good)

Claudia made earrings to match her outfits. She did funny things like wearing sweaters with pineapple prints with pineapple earrings and yellow socks. Oh no, that was me. I can’t remember any of her outfits then, other than that I loved them and wanted to be just like her. So I went on this field trip, with my cool Claudia outfit. And I was made fun of for my outfit the entire time. And I was thinking about this, and then all of a sudden I was catapaulted into something else. All of a sudden I could see, laid out before me, little lines connecting me to everybody else in my life. And I could see, clearly, how my actions have always been the result of their reactions. One of the things about being so empathetic is that I can perceive minute changes in a person’s mood, in response to me and my actions. So I have always catered my actions, words, reactions etc. to whatever minute changes I was feeling in a person. In other words, I did exactly what was needed for them to like me. On top of that, I’m a bit of a sponge, so I get very confused about where my feelings end and where another person’s feelings begin. And because of that, I have done some really silly things that I thought were perfect for me but were actually just picking up on what another person was feeling.
For example, after high school, my best friend Jessica came to visit me in Glasgow for the summer. We went out every night, had so much fun, and she decided that she wanted to move there because she was so happy. All of a sudden, I wanted to move there with such intensity that within 2 weeks I had applied to university, been accepted and was moving all of my stuff over to study in Glasgow.

with just one problem…

I HATED Glasgow. Moving to the States was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I never wanted to leave California again. So of course, after a month or so I was miserable because I had acted on a feeling that wasn’t my own in the first place.

It occurred to me, as I was seeing all of these lines of energy stretching out from my body to everyone else in my life, that I have never once made a decision for myself. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t being moved around by the opinions and thoughts of others. I am like a feather that blows in whatever direction the wind is blowing, but never moves of its own accord. And my voice has just been the voices of other people that I was picking up on. And my feelings towards things the same.

So when it came time to writing a blog. Even a silly little blog that not many people read, I was completely blank. I guess that deciding not to steal other peoples’ voices has created a verbal vacum. If I couldn’t write before I would pick up a Virginia Woolf book (and then I would write pages and pages sounding like a pompous Englishwoman) or Milan Kundera (and then I would write pages and pages sounding very clever and misogynistic) or TS Eliot (and then I would write pages and pages of stuff that made no sense to anybody else but was really really pretty). And without these voices I am just blank. This is my first attempt at sounding like myself even though I am no longer sure if I have a self at all. Check one. Check one.

*I think I have this answer for myself. But we’re all different, and due to my realisations about the thoughts of people influencing others, I am just going to keep my mouth (fingers?) shut here, because when it comes down to it we’re all different and we all have different things to find and different ways to find them. I like the way this italic font looks.

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