When I have a seat on the train, I close my eyes and I listen to music. I let the music take me away. Since moving to Brooklyn, I barely get a seat on the train. I know , I know, first world problems . But going from having a guaranteed seat every morning for years to having to stand forced me to change some habits. So now I read constantly. I have gone from reading one novel/comic a month to one every week. However, when I read a comic book on the train I get strange looks. This morning someone asked me if I was an illustrator. Of course, because if I appreciate comics I must be an illustrator.
Let me tell you what’s so wrong about this implication. The implication that in order to be a functioning adult you must have a profession in the things you enjoy is insane. It is the reason why so many people claim to be singers, actors, writers, etc. In modern American culture it’s not productive to enjoy something without becoming it. That is why we have so many self-proclaimed yogis, painters, etc. And anyone can get away with calling themselves an artist, because it would be un-artist-like of us to even dare question those who try. We all listen to music and I am sure that we all watch movies and we have all at some point (hopefully) read a book. However, there is a difference between being able to produce something and being able to enjoy it.
Yes, I believe that we should all strive to become the person we wish to be, but why is it so hard for us to just be the person we are? A better version of who we are. Unfortunately, we live in a world of instant gratification. It takes time to get to know yourself and even more time to perfect that person. Instead of doing what comes naturally we try to do what we enjoy. We take the “if you work a job you love you never have to work a day in your life,” motto to heart. We fall so in love with the idea of becoming something that we lose sight of actually being anything. We label ourselves based on our hobbies; because that’s the person we wish others to see in us, and so we hide behind these hobbies. We make our profile pictures about that one time you held a guitar, danced on stage or were able to sing, because you figure that if more people saw you that way your identity will change with their perception of you. But that never happens. We don’t give people enough credit. Even friends on social media know the difference between the person you are and the person you want others to see you as.
The person you wish others to see you as and the person you are should not be far apart. The things you do, while they say a lot about you, do not define you. Strength does not come in how much you can do, but in how true to yourself you remain. Even after the high school peer pressure fades away we bully ourselves into becoming this person we imagine ourselves to be. If you ever lose track of who you are, a quick way to remember is to look at yourself as a child.
When we are young, we think that the lives around us are just like ours, because that is all we know. When I was younger I thought that everyone else tasted certain words, but lo and behold I learned very quickly that one person’s experiences can differ greatly from those of others. It is like living in a different dimension. We all occupy the same space, but we don’t always see each other. We are in a different time. It is the little things that shape us. Whenever you are lost just imagine yourself when you were younger. Remember those random certificates you got from your kindergarten and first grade teacher that said things like “Highest Achievement,” in reading, talking, sitting still, making friends, finger painting, etc. Know that you are an adult version of that. Sitting still means that you are highly focused, making friends means that you are great at networking and so on. Don’t knock those little things that make you great out, because they are not glorified by society. Our adult bodies are just vessels for our childhood dreams. Don’t bully yourself into becoming the person you see yourself being. I haven’t had a specific wish in years, because you never know if that desire will bring you happiness. I have always wished for happiness and cut the middle man out. It is the preferred outcome in all that we do. Consult the child you used to be and aim for the desired outcome, not the things that you think might get you there.