I really do love coming in here and writing journals from time to time (I don't do it nearly as often as I probably ought to), because honestly no one reads them. . . and there's some marvelous little thrill in saying what you like, semi-publically, yet knowing there is a roughly ninety per cent chance no one will ever see it or care. And the fact that it's here stashed with my art, like some haphazard digital hope chest, makes it all the more eccentrically fulfilling. Maybe one day I'll connect with another absurdist eccentric intellectual snob on this site who is as weird and analytical as I am, and they'll have the guts to tell me "Jesus, Zoe, you are one passive aggressive little social critic posing as a Southern Belle."
I wonder why it's so easy, even effortless, for so many people to be inauthentic. I tell myself that it's just my part of the country, and my constant discomfort with it is only indicative of my love/hate relationship with the American South. It seems to be the default state of the human race, or at least in middle-to-upper class America where people think they have so much to lose. . . to quote one of my personal heroes, Morrissey "They're so scared to show intelligence; it might smear their lovely career."
That's right, Sean Patrick: This world, I am afraid, is designed for crashing bores. And I am not one. . .
But the utterly delicious part is that no one knows this. I always feel like Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap, when he first arrives in someone else's life and, before he even gets to a reflective surface to actually identify his new form, he learns a lot just by the way people treat him. (There needs to be one of those darling little pseudo-spiritual books written called The Philosophy of Quantum Leap. But that's another essay for another day, and I'll probably never write it.)
The underlying message of that show, a childhood favorite of mine, was that people react to who you LOOK like, not who you ARE. No matter how much evidence they receive to the contrary, they will interact with what you seem to be and with what they need for you to be. This observance may sound adolescent-- and I'll admit I never lost the Holden Caulfield worldview I embraced at 14, because it still seems pretty relevant.
This is why:
I look like a very different creature than I really am. As I've transitioned from being a stay-at-home mom and artist back into a full time career, I've found my life dominated by the discrepancy between the authenticity of self that I cannot help but insist upon and the suppositions and inauthenticity that others seem to live with unquestioningly. (To give some context here, I am an administrative civil servant . . .I'll leave it at that. Part of this could be that I am utterly unsuited temperamentally to such work, but for the time being it is necessary that i make the best of this and treat it as a social experiment of sorts.)
What I appear to be to the people I meet each day is a petite caucasian female, conservatively dressed and overtly compassionate and rather self-effacing in my humor, simply because I've never had much of an ego and humility comes naturally to me. I'm an INTJ on the Meyers Briggs inventory, which is a very rare type in general and an even rarer type for females. As a result, I do not get along well with nor understand other women very well. I find gossip repugnant and cruel-- I have vices of my own and do not judge others for doing this, as it seems to be something they do out of a desperate need to feel superior or in control.
What is so strange to me is how people insist upon reacting to the woman they see and the beliefs they attach to her-- this woman they believe must be privileged and naive and weak-- rather than getting to know me. When I present new ideas at work, as part of my job description, I'm treated like an eccentric child. In fact, I've noticed that any behavior I present that deviates from the role I am suppose to play, that of an affluent white woman whose husband probably takes care of her, is at first laughed at and, if repeated, met with ridicule. I'm not supposed to be smart (never mind that I have a BA in History, attended graduate school for a year and a half, taught freshman composition as a grad assistant at the University of New Orleans when I was 23, and then went back to school for a two year graphic design program later in my 20's.) I'm not supposed to be creative-- even though I'm working on a novel and I draw and paint constantly.
I'm just not supposed to be myself. I don't even think I'm supposed to be particularly interesting. No one around me is. I almost want to stand up and say "I notice a lot of you spend your time between menial clerical tasks shopping for shoes online. Well, maybe you could shop for a personality while you're at it. I have one, myself. I mean its scary at first, but really. . . They're fucking awesome!"