the miscellany chronicle

bit of this, bit of that

2.27.2007

we're all philanthropists in theory

I just read an interview with a writer who I actually admire quite a bit-- but then she said something which made me just roll my eyes in exasperation. So now I must address the idea which I find so tiresome.

CONCEPT: BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF

Okay, wow, is this one of the stupidest catchphrases ever.

Look, I get the idea of it-- hey, if you aren't living life like you know you should, then change! If you work in corporate America and it is killing your soul, be true to yourself and get out! Yeah! Self-actualization!

Except, of course, that none of that makes any sense. If I'm a frustrated poet working in an office instead of pursuing grander literary dreams, then that doesn't mean I need to be 'truer' to my poet self. It means that my true self is someone who is willing to swallow mediocrity rather than take real risks to do something more interesting.

So, you know, Donald Trump, bullshit artist, is true to himself: he is the human embodiment of greed and commercialism. Britney Spears is being true to herself-- not because she's in rehab, but because she hates herself and her life and she ingests massive amounts of drugs and alcohol to deal with that knowledge.

I think I mostly resent the idea that being true to yourself is a VERB. Every person in the world is true to him or herself, because your actions dictate what sort of person you are and what sort of life you are willing to live. I can't DECIDE to be true to myself, because it is involuntary and automatic. I lead the life I lead, no matter what I think I should/could/would have been doing given the right chance.

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