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you can't fake the core
I really enjoyed this post from Laura McKowen about the life that wants to live in you. Which is not necessarily the life that you want to live, in the same way that what I end up writing is often not what I set out to write.
Some of the hardest decisions I’ve made are the ones that contradict my beliefs about who I am. I’ve always been someone with a very clear sense of my own identity: how I act, how I present, what I like, what I choose. And most of the time, I make choices that are in line with that.
But sometimes my beliefs about myself contradict who I actually am. And the weight of that contradiction is the hardest thing to bear. It manifests in bad behavior: I want to be honest, but I conceal something. I make a promise, but I break it.
The thing I’ve learned is that those moments are not a sign I’m a bad person: they’re a sign that I’m failing to live in alignment. Who I am is not lining up with who I want to be.
I think the mistake that I’ve often made at this point is going, well, I’m just going to try harder to brute force my way into being who I want to be. When really the lesson is that my view of myself is fundamentally wrong.
I’ve been thinking about this tweet a lot since I saw it:
Sometimes what we want is impossible. The life you want to live is not the life that wants to live in you. And to be become who you actually are, to honor your calling, your feelings, your joy, requires you choosing the life that wants you back.
Which is humbling, and annoying, and difficult in all sorts of ways. Like Shedler points out, I often just want to keep doing what I’m doing but feel better about it. I justify it to myself: this is okay. And then I’m disappointed when I eventually realize that’s impossible.
A Cheryl Strayed line I’ve always loved: You can’t fake the core. The truth that lives there will always come out.
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No matter who else I can convince, I can never convince myself. I am amazed and resentful of how consistent that is. Because I am the one who has to live in the life I’ve made, who has to be accountable for my decisions. Every morning I look around and I am surrounded by my own detritus on the most literal level. As in: did I put the laundry away. Did I throw out the empty cans of sparkling water on my nightstand. And of course that’s a metaphor for the emotional decisions.
I mentioned this in my Substack “about” page, but I think it’s really funny that I write self-help because I often feel so absolutely in way over my head. There’s no other word for it but vertigo. But that’s the universal experience, right? What I want for myself is to choose the things that feel nourishing, that feel Right, and keep on choosing them. What I want for other people I love is exactly the same. This is the simplest thing in the world to articulate, but really difficult to actually do.
No one can fake the core: that’s a blessing. When we accept that, we start to figure out how to be good stewards of ourselves.