My Voices

Last night, I had a chat with the rational voice that lives inside my head.  I think she was surprised.  You see, I don’t consult her very often, mostly because she’s usually wrong.  How weird is that?  The voice that’s supposed to think clearly and look at all the facts is the one that usually ends up getting me in trouble or leading me to believe in something that simply isn’t true.  I guess she’s optimistic that way.  That, or she’s just not very smart.  At least she tries.

As writers, we constantly live with different worlds inside or minds.  It would only make sense, then, that there are several sides of all of us that contribute to these worlds.  I guess my problem is that I’ve never known which of these sides of myself is my true side, or which one I should be giving the most attention.

First of all, we’ll start with the Writer.  She’s the one that drives me.  She’s the one that’s won out after twenty-seven years of competing with all my other selves.  She often knows what I want to say before I know it myself.  She also gives my characters words and actions that I didn’t know I had in me.  I kind of love it when characters come to life like that and act in ways that I hadn’t planned.  Unfortunately, the Writer in me also sees everyday life, not as real life, but as a story being acted out.  She gives every person their own plot, their own motives, their own inner dialogues.  When life doesn’t work out like a storybook, it confuses her.  More often than not, however, it comes as a relief.  A lot of stories have tragedies.  No part of me likes tragedies.

Then we have the Outdoorsman.  This is the part of me that loves being outside and hiking and kayaking and getting dirty.  She loves nature and wants nothing more than to live in a cabin by the lake and become one with the trees.  She doesn’t care for the hustle and bustle of city life and more often than not, she dreams of simply running away and being free.  She also might be kind of a hippie.

The Photographer and the Outdoorsman go hand in hand, but unlike the Outdoorsman, the Photographer likes all kinds of settings, city life included.  She dreams of visiting places like New York and Colorado and Alaska and London.  In fact, she’ll go just about anywhere as long as there’s something cool to photograph, and trust me, she can always find something.  She loves seeing things and she loves capturing moments.  She also loves taking those moments and making them entirely her own.

Then there’s the Beachcomber.  This side of me wants nothing more than to be by the ocean 24/7.  She loves everything about the ocean, from the reflection of sunlight on its surface to the countless creatures that call it home.  She would give just about anything to be by the water constantly.

Next, there’s the Genealogist.  Technically, I guess she’s not so much of a genealogist as she is a wannabe historian, but for whatever reason, she’s obsessed with my family history.  She’s in love, not only with Scotland, but the idea of all of her homelands.  She has a huge desire to explore those historic lands where my ancestors once lived.

Those voices or sides or pieces of self are all well and good, but there are other voices, like the Neurotic Overreacter, that I could do without.  See, she’s the one that tries to convince me that I need to be worried about everything all the time.  Thankfully, she’s not the most prominent voice in the bunch, but she’s still there, and every once in a while, she manages to push her way through the rest of the voices and remind me that she’s still there.  And boy, do I hate her.  I guess I still need her, because in a way, she does contribute to ideas for stories, but as far as my life goes, I would love it if she just stayed the hell away.  She’s a control freak, she’s very demanding, and she bums me out.  A lot.

That’s where my Rational voice comes in.  She’s supposed to keep the Neurotic Overreacter in check, but she doesn’t do a very good job.  She’s kind of timid and doesn’t have a lot of confidence in herself, whereas N.O. is convinced that she’s right ALL the time.  It’s like, impossible to argue with her because she is SO convinced that she’s right.  My Rational voice tries really hard, I think, but she’s more often lost over the shrill chatter of all the other voices.

There are several other voices that I haven’t touched on: the Good Girl, the Ravenclaw, the Rebel, etc…  But I think you get the point.  The road to self-awareness is a long one, and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get there.  I think there will always be something new to learn about yourself and how you fit into the world around you.  Sometimes, your inclinations contradict themselves.  I’m just trying to get by and find my place, and to live in a way that leaves me few regrets.  It’s difficult, but I think I’m learning.

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My Fantasy Self

As you may or may not know, last week, I finally read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and yesterday, I read Eleanor and Park.  Without sounding too creepy, I’ve pretty much decided that Rainbow Rowell is one of my new literary heroes, so naturally, I decided to follow her on Twitter.

Following people you admire on Twitter is always a risk, because you might find out they’re not exactly the people you thought (or at least hoped) they were, but Rainbow Rowell is just as awesome as her writing style.  Just the other day, she posted something about how we all like to read fantasy versions of ourselves, and that her fantasy version of herself is Han Solo.

My initial reaction to that was, “My fantasy version of myself is a cross between Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, and Ariel.”  But that’s not really the case.  I mean, yeah, I wish I was as brave as Katniss and as smart as Hermione and as adventurous as Ariel.  But there are still elements of me that I really really like.  I like my sense of humor.  I like that I enjoy writing and editing and nerdy things.  I like that I am a compulsive truth-teller (though other people might not appreciate that one as much).

My fantasy version of myself is a mixture of all those things, plus a few more traits that I envy about other people.  For example, my fantasy self has a lot more self-confidence than I do.  I’m extremely confident in my books and work, but in myself?  Not so much.  In grad school, my self-esteen was nil and it was really hard to concentrate on my goals and what I wanted out of life.  It’s gotten better, but it’s something I still struggle with.  Maybe I always will.  My fantasy self, however, dresses the way she wants, is cool and confident, and never worries about what other people think.

My fantasy self isn’t a dweller.  She doesn’t worry about the worst-case scenarios the way I do.  Granted, that might come with the whole writer thing.  Life always plays out in my head like a movie or a book.  Probably not the best coping mechanism for when life really gets rough because I always, always imagine the worst.  To be honest, I actually imagine every scenario and then dwell on the worst.  It’s awful.

Finally, my fantasy self knows what she wants out of life and she goes for it.  I hope I’m at least a little like that, but I still have fears and self-doubts that get in my way.  Maybe we all do.  Right now, I’m even debating whether or not this entry is worth posting, because I really don’t like to talk so much about myself.  I’ll probably post it anyway, because I’m hoping it will help put y’all in touch with your fantasy selves.  I don’t know if it’s ever a good idea to wish that you were someone else.  You should always be happy with who you are.  But as my dear friend Hannah pointed out to me, it’s always good to try to improve yourself.  No one wants to stay stagnant for the rest of their lives.  I know I don’t.  I want to be the best I can be, and I know, as a human, I don’t always put forth the effort into becoming that.  Maybe that will be one of my new years resolutions (that gives me a little time to still be a slacker).

Oh, I almost forgot.  My fantasy self has totally paid off all her student loans and owns a beach house in the Gulf Shores.  She eats a whole lot healthier than I do, and she really hopes to have not one, but two new books out next year.  I guess time will tell.