Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Self Narratives

It’s interesting how we can tell ourselves our life story in different ways but can’t simply choose one of those ways simply because it is a positive, beneficial life story. Sometimes I tell my story as one of hastily made crucial choices – choosing the wrong major in college and grad school and being stuck with it – and how those mistaken choices have led to my being in a life situation I don’t like. I left grad school before getting a Ph.D., but in my leisure time have continued studying academic works. I ‘d probably be happier as an academic and probably will never be.

But an alternative telling of my story is that I luckily got out of the academic system and the conforming and constraining effects of the tenure system so that I could freely find my own intellectual way and develop my own thoughts. But I rarely tell myself that story although it’s certainly available to be told. Why not tell that one? It seems our self narratives are not rationally choosable. We can’t just choose to tell ourselves the most positive plausible life story. A larger undergirding mood and worldview determines what self-narrative will hold sway.

But also, with me, an overarching, determining standard plays a role. Since I am still trying to achieve somebodyness [see the introductory post of this blog] my actions are rated according to its standard. If I were to achieve somebodyness through my intellectual work then perhaps the positive self-narrative of going my own intellectual way would rise to power and be dominant in my psyche. But if I fail and remain a nobody then the story of me as the guy who missed opportunities and made bad choices will reign.

The third alternative is to loosen the grip of the nobody-somebody spectrum and gain fulfillment by being myself, doing the things I like and evincing my uniqueness. Although, while that sounds wholesome, I can’t make that my guiding life understanding.

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