We check those little boxes on dating profiles. We know they don’t “capture” us exactly, but we’ve grown accustomed to placing ourselves – and others – into categories.
But most of us don’t fit into a category in entirety. We may not be the square peg in the round hole, but we’re a little of this and a little of that, with our preferences in one part of life that don’t necessarily correspond to preferences in another. And we are all – always – more than meets the eye.
So where do we put our own contradictions? Are we confused as we get to know others, by what seems like ill-fitting pieces to the personality puzzle?
I’m not talking about professing to believe in one thing and then acting on another. For example, you claim to be fiscally conservative in all ways, yet you spend spend spend when it comes to yourself! Or you insist your children keep their rooms perfectly tidy, but your own space is a cluttered mess.
Style: Likes, Dislikes, Personal, Professional
I’m talking about elements of nature and interests, of personal choices, of likes and dislikes.
I’m talking about individuals who embody characteristics that appear on the surface to be contradictory, a phenomenon I consider intriguing and even attractive. I also consider these contradictions to be naturally occurring; we’re neither simple nor without a breadth of experiences, so why wouldn’t we develop desires, beliefs, and behaviors that refuse to neatly categorize?
Aren’t we always in a state of reinvention – some of us more than others?
Public, Private, and Writerly Options
As for the public face and the private one, we all live under the scrutiny of others to some degree. We’re judged by appearance. Our actions are fodder for family and friends. Our words are interpreted by neighbors and co-workers. We’re certainly judged online – in what we say, and what we don’t.
Many of us who write online are of the “tell all” persuasion. If not that, then “tell a great deal.” It’s a matter of nature, a matter of intention, a matter of not worrying about consequences or not believing that consequences will be problematic. It is our version of authenticity.
Some of us choose to compartmentalize; we speak of targeted topics and leave others to the sanctity of mindful silence. This is no less authentic, though we might term it “personal editorial policy” whereby we operate with authentic disclosure and social necessity working together, side by side.
Is this a contradiction? I don’t think so. Transparency – selective transparency – is a necessary reality in many of our lives.
A Joyful Jumble
If I say I’m an independent thinker and a confident woman, does that mean that I’m not vulnerable in a relationship?
If I say I have strong opinions and no fear at voicing them, does that mean I will choose to voice them at any time? If I’m fearless in certain areas of my life, do you assume that I’m fearless in all?
If I write of women’s issues but profess my love of sexy French lingerie, is this a contradiction that seems natural – or possibly, no contradiction at all?
If I tell you that I’m an introvert (I am), but also an extrovert (likewise), does that confuse you? If I admit that I’m silly and lighthearted, but also intense and determined, does that seem perplexing? If I admit to the fact that I adore socializing, but I also need extended periods of time alone, are you baffled?
I know my history. I know my preferences. I know the many roles I play – writer, mother, friend, lover. I bring a diversity of selves to each, while aware that I am in a constant state of learning and therefore, flux.
I find that these elements of “selves” may seem contradictory along with opinions and behaviors that may confuse or even confound. To me, these aspects of personality and character coexist nicely. I require no reconciliation or adjustment process; I feel no need.
- What about you? Do contradictions confuse you in others?
- Do you know the contradictions in yourself?
- Do you present a public face that is dramatically different from your private selves?
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