Monday, December 14, 2009

This Is Me: Or, Location, Location, Location

This morning I was checking posts on my students’ discussion board. One man was exclaiming how self-confidence can be misread as arrogance. He also claimed that self-assurance can tip over into unwarranted and ungrounded confidence on the part of the person confirming her/his abilities. (This is a business writing class, and so all of the posts refer to presenting oneself in business scenarios) In essence he was saying that tooting one’s own horn is the same as claiming excellence in one’s field, and therefore should be omitted in a cover letter, or in an interview.
For some reason this morning I could not make my usual written sounds of, “In business it is often the case that…” Instead, I began to explain how the society we live in creates an atmosphere more conducive to arrogance and greed than humility and moderation, but that representing oneself honestly should not be eschewed because self-confidence is suspect. I began to back up my statement by using popular culture, reality television in particular, to underline why the public feels that most people are not honest about their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. We expect manipulation of the truth, we know that aggressive self-aggrandizement is the way to win, and winning is as we all know the only important part of any game. Winning in business is a big deal. I was beginning to type fast, the way I do when I am preparing something for this blog: my mind racing, full of thoughts I want to share.

I stopped short. I remembered that I was at work, and that I had to be careful about revealing myself. One would assume, yes recall that moldy old assume joke, that as an instructor I have not only the right, but the obligation to reveal certain aspects of my thoughts about the world we are investigating. Or supposed to be. And there’s the thing, I am not hired to do that. I am hired to instruct on the best methods to write emails, and sundry other office type communications, not to critique the corporate world. But this corporate world is something my students are leery of. With good reason I believe. Yet, I refrain from opening this door with them. My posts are monitored.

Last week I gave away, to LJ, a person whom I find to be a source of fun and comfort and therefore the best candidate for this giving, my last remaining items of favorite clothing that I no longer will ever wear. This, for those of you who are too young to have had this experience, and I am assuming (yes, there’s the old joke again) that you will be, was difficult. It was not difficult to want LJ to have these items; I knew she would appreciate their uniqueness as much as I did; it was difficult to have another ending, to see a part of myself yet again in the past tense. This closing of doors makes me grasp harder at parts of myself that I have held back and begin to shake them loose so that they are visible, no longer held behind.

I remember something I read Rosalyn Russell said in an interview. Her definition of acting was that acting was, “ being naked onstage and turning around. (long pause) Slowly.”

The reason we decided to be naked on this blog was to find ourselves in life, in time, in history if you will. To position ourselves in the world as if on a Google map of the Earth—there I am, and there, and there.

As I need to wear different hats (and here is my discomfort—do I really need this variety of millinery?) I feel less honest; I become less honest within myself. I suppose that in a society, for the greater good, it is best to comply. How do I maintain my integrity?
I think women are particularly vulnerable in this location. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt. I decide (do I decide—that’s the question here) to compartmentalize some of my life for the sake of the relationships. Yet, it creates a deceitful atmosphere for me, in me. I don’t like it, and feel thoroughly hemmed in by it.

I have nominated anonymity, to try to find the true voice. Is this dishonest? The problem with seeing me in the past tense so often as things change, as I age, as my son has a child of his own, is that I struggle to stay current with my life. I do not want to be Miss Haversham, or any other spinster, waiting for her life and only having life pass rather than move forward. I fear that as I edit parts of my life for the sake of getting by and getting along, I am losing vast parts of consciousness that are imperative.

In order for me to locate myself in this world, on that map, I need to be able to express my true self. I am an excellent: writer, teacher, mother, mentor, and friend. I don’t care if it makes anyone uncomfortable, and yet, I must or I would not edit myself. So I try to live (without stating so in the places where I am vulnerable) as an excellent woman.

If assuming that the world agrees I have the right to say these things makes an ass of you and me—so be it.