Last week, I learned again the extent to which I steer clear of the interpersonal rumor mill at work. I wondered again what circulates about me and decided most of it would have to be what I make available online, but what I make available is written with full awareness that people will inevitably find it.
I'm insecure that I'm not as intelligent as I want to believe I am, but even smart people are prone to cognitive distortions, so I'm less insecure about this possibility than resigned to it. I know I'm idealistic but too easily defeated. I'm aware I'm prone to feeling sorry for myself, but I'm reluctant to seek help outside myself and pretend that comes from a place of personal responsibility instead of pure anxiety over what other people might try to do to me. I break promises to myself often. I try to pretend I'm resigned to not finding a single satisfactory answer to the question, What am I doing here?, but I keep asking myself that question.
I once joked to my followers on Flickr that I've entertained falsely revealing that my Flickr persona was entirely fictional and invented by someone who is completely unlike me:
I've thought at times about claiming that in reality I'm nothing like this -- and that I'm actually not even me, but a completely content, conventionally attractive stay-at-home-mom who shares a large house in the suburbs with her hubby and three children and who'd invented me as a character for a creative writing class she'd audited because she thought it'd be fun -- and then found she wanted to keep developing me because it made her more appreciative of everything she has.
But I can't do that. For one, some of my Flickr followers know me and have met me multiple times and can confirm this is who I am.
Secondly, whenever I try to imagine myself as this imaginary woman creating me in her imagination, I seem like I should be miserable because I made some different choices. But I'm not miserable. Life is finite. Choosing anything always means not choosing many other things. I can never truly know if I might've been happier having done that instead of this. Fantasies are flatter and less nuanced than reality.
I tried to think of why a woman like the one I've imagined would invent me as a character in her imagination, and all I could think of was, Because she knows someone like me and that someone won't let her get close, because that woman thinks she has her all figured out and doesn't need to know her.
Suburban noir is a very popular fiction genre because we want to imagine that the people who seem happier than us are secretly living in a haunted McMansion built on a sinking foundation of lies. It's why gossip is similarly appealing, because they confirm our worst desires for others.
But at least fiction is just that, and nobody's actually getting hurt. So I'll keep my head buried in fiction.