And you can fly to the other side of the world, You know you’ll only find, I’ve reserved the seat behind you, We can talk about old times.
It’s odd sometimes how messages come to guide you at just the right time. Among the podcasts I enjoy is James O’Brien’s Full Disclosure podcast. I quite often listen to podcasts while I’m cooking or having a bath. I like to listen to all of them, even if the interviewee is someone I’ve never heard of. Indeed, quite often these are the most fascinating as I listen with no preconceptions of the person .
Last week I came to an episode from last October (I’m a bit behind) with Joe Tracini. Not a name I’m familiar with, but I know of his father, comedian Joe Pasquale. Tracini proved to be a really interesting character and he said something which stopped me in my tracks, quite near the beginning of the episode:
I needed to be the same person everywhere, even if that’s not necessarily a person that I like or want to be around, I haven’t got a choice… What I’ve found is, I’m sick of me, I’m everywhere… I can’t be shocked that I don’t want to be around me any more because, every time I walk into a room, I’m there, I’m everywhere all the time. And I think that it’s more a case of me just accepting who I am and then trying to make the most that I can of it.Joe Tracini
A day or two later, a good friend of mine shared the following quote on Facebook:
To become a person does not necessarily mean to be well adjusted, well adapted, approved of by others. It means to become who you are. We are meant to become more eccentric, more peculiar, more odd. We are not meant just to fit in. We are here to be different. We are here to be the individual.James Hollis
We do seem to spend a significant amount of our lives taking on roles, fitting into the standard rhythm of life, fitting in with how we look, what we listen to or watch, what we say, how we think, how we express ourselves. It’s almost impossible NOT to be making a statement with, for example, what you wear. Even if you don’t think about what you wear, your clothes are still saying, “I don’t care what I’m wearing,” and that in itself is a statement.
It’s not easy to step outside the boundaries of either your life or the life you are expected to live. I managed to do it a bit by contentedly choosing not to have children for example. But even I found myself in a rut. Sometimes you can try too hard to be “more eccentric, more peculiar, more odd,” which is no more being yourself than fitting in.
What hit me about Tracini’s comment was how much I have tried to run away from myself, while trying to find myself. You see, you can walk away from a family, a marriage, a job, a friend, a community. You can fly to the other side of the world. But you are always there, in whatever room you’re in. And we all have to learn to live with that. Even better, we can – and should – learn to love that.
Sometimes you DO need to do those things but I don’t think you HAVE to. You, just need to carve out some space. Relationships may need to change, but they don’t always have to be detonated. Maybe in “finding my self” I may have still discovered that my marriage wasn’t right for me. I often wonder however whether it would have been far less hurtful to work that out while I was married.
Who we are in the context of other people is important and valuable. However introvert you may think you are, human beings are sociable creatures. Social interaction is essential for us, both from an evolutionary and a modern perspective. Two of the four neurochemicals most commonly associated with our happiness, oxytocin and serotonin are related to how we feel in company.
However, “Finding ourselves” isn’t an outside job. Your self is not in your job, your relationship to others, your hobbies, your likes or dislikes. Your self is already there. It always has been. It involves stripping back those layers, the roles, the labels. Finding your Self is not about addition, it’s about subtraction.