The self has always fascinated me in a way that bordered the obsessive. My infatuation does not come from the grandiosity of my existence, but in my desire to understand and ultimately control it. I'm not trying to be Natalie Portman right now, so stick with me.
This inquisitiveness has been deeply embedded into the way I live, work and create. There is never a time when people are more in agreement with my way of thinking than New Year’s Eve. It’s the greatest of all celebrations and the only time our culture encourages us to overtly analyze ourselves, or change as resolutions would indicate.
New Year’s Eve is mind porn and I am an addict.
I have always been its most active participant and star wisher. The notion of stepping outside of one's own existence in order to better understand the mind's function and ultimately influence it, it's a drug of sorts.
The inherent power in self analysis rewards you with the most important realization you’ll ever have: you can be whoever you want to be.
Outside of New Year’s Eve, we should be encouraged to indulge ourselves by becoming whoever we want and constantly playing with our identity. Our culture can sometimes trivialize this as “going through phases," but I’ve always thought of it as different acts in one long play. As a woman, of course, my physical attributes where sometimes the first layer, and I find that changing the way you look can unwittingly change the way you think. I’ve slipped into a variety of different ideologies, leaving the concept of right and wrong as one of the few constants in my mind.
If you watch HBO’s GIRLS, you’ll remember a famous character the internet took particular interest in for many reasons. Brooklyn stereotypes aside, Mimi Rose Howard elicited really strong responses from the viewership. I was enthralled.
Her character was an artist and her canvas was her own life. Using herself as artistic material, she would experiment with who she was (and sometimes the people around her) and dissect her psyche like it was a piece of meat on a table. And while her manner of speaking and blasé attitude made it seem like she only cared about herself, I think a lot of that labelling comes from a general lack of self-analysis. In other words, many viewers thought she was cold and unrealistic as opposed to celebrating the degree to which she could remove herself and analyze her own life.
The trick to realizing your potential, changing yourself or transforming into whatever character you want to play in your life is a matter of removal.
We've examined our work or projects under this same scrutiny, so why isolate it to one area of our lives? I’ve examined my writing under this lens, broken my stories apart and made sure I was being true to the character. I’ve also imagined what it was like to be this character, making decisions with an ease and background that I tried on just to see how it fit. The same observation and trial and error can be applied to the self.
So as 2016 approaches, and perhaps you’re tired of the countdown posts detailing 10 ways to keep your resolutions or 20 things you NEED to do in 2016, I want to bring a different perspective to that Internet sound collage. This year, why don’t you treat yourself like the evolving artwork that you are? Step outside of your own mind, analyze yourself as an impartial observer. Who do you want to be in your life? Do you enjoy the role you play now? How do you see yourself?
I don’t know if it’s better to make a list of dietary changes, income goals and fitness dreams. I think we could all benefit from some planning as modern adulthood would tell us. But Shakespeare told us life is a stage and we are the players, so why not play?
Are you the sexy heroine? Do you want to be? The successful, mysterious business owner? The good wife? The writer? The hero? The villain? Don't be the villain…
Maybe this new year, stop filling in your resolutions. Pick up a chocolate covered strawberry and some champagne instead. Your life is your stage, so be the character you want to be.
Who are you going to be in 2016?