I have noticed that sometimes I do too much. I will be listening to someone tell a story and suddenly I’m paying too much attention to the words that they say rather than their intention, and I get caught up in noticing past parts of myself in them. Flaws. Sometimes I can ignore it, sometimes I smile smugly to myself, and sometimes I call attention to it. In this, my self would like to call attention to my ego. First, a clarification:
Vanity and pride are what most of us tend to think of when we think of ego, but ego is much more than an overinflated sense of self. It can also turn up in feelings of inferiority or self-hatred because ego is any image you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity—and that identity derives from the things you tell yourself and the things other people have been saying about you that you’ve decided to accept as truth (source).
Identity…what are the things that make me Me? My education. My physical appearance. My personality. My friends and family. My writing. My ego is in all of that. Something that Oprah said this morning as I recapped her life class lesson “The power of false ego,” that stuck with me was that when we move from our ego we move from fear. It struck me pretty deeply and I immediately considered my rationale for being in this Doctoral program. If anyone asks my reasons I cite the freedom to work part time yet still contribute to the field of academia through research and writing while raising my children. However, after considering my ego’s role in this answer I realize that I’m getting my Doctorate because I am afraid of being limited by my circumstances.
That made me want to cry.
Oprah talked about her weight and how she hated herself because her ego was wrapped up in needing to be thinner to be “enough”. I thought about why I want to be a runner so badly, something that I’ve struggled with repeatedly and cannot for the life of me seem to actually make happen. I want to be a runner because I am afraid in being trapped in a body that ellicits so much restriction.
Then I did cry.
Then I thought, truly about these two things. Never have I ever been truly limited by my circumstance. Never have I ever been restricted because of my size. And surely I must know that on some level because the thought was there, it did not just arrive. All the things that I “am” are of my ego. When I realized this, it felt like a weight had been lifted, and my tears stopped. There’s no reason to be sad.
I think it becomes very easy to see myself as separate from others and to think to myself oh that was me 5 years ago, or that was me a month ago. But does my hypersensitivity to it mean I am not over it? Or does it mean, simply, that I see myself in parts of others. In that way, through our flaws I see our connection. It is not limited to flaws, I see it in joy as well. The thing is, the ego tries to keep me from seeing myself clearly but that awareness (where I really live) shows me glimpses.
Why do I bare myself so fully in this blog? Is this a safe space, or have I only imagined it to be so? Am I acting out of awareness or freedom? In many cases, I yield to my fears when I write. In that, when something scares me I write about it to shed light on it immediately. I know as well as anyone that secrets simply fester within you. So I choose to live more uncensored than perhaps is advisable. Needing to be fit. Needing to be decorated. Needing to be acknowledged. These things are not foreign to me, or others I’m sure. I refuse to be too ashamed to tackle them. So if it takes typing through tears, then I will.
The thing that makes me saddest, if there has to be a thing, is that in my overdose of otherness I’ve been somehow able to give care and compassion to others but unable to do it for myself. Loving people in the way I wish I were loved, and perhaps loving the part of me that resides in them. I like the way that sounds. I would think that if I just told myself more positive things my life would change, or if I just loved myself more…but the problem wasn’t in giving (it never has been) its been in accepting. If I accept it means that I need, or am deficient in some way; I loathe the thought of being deficient. I fear needing. I’m extremely averse to it, and even as I type that word I’m making a face because I hate the way it looks, reads, sounds. The thing I have to get is that needing is apart of sufficient, it is not the enemy of it. As I am connected to all things, I need things and when I stop identifying with this body as “me” then I won’t be so threatened by the idea of fulfillment outside of it.
8th impossible thing: need.