Your Ideal Self vs. Your Real Self

Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.
— Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Artwork by Kent Knowles || Shop SCAD || Savannah, GA

Artwork by Kent Knowles || Shop SCAD || Savannah, GA

Who would you like to be, ideally? I think about this all the time. For years, I've nursed this image of my future self, the woman I would like to be in comparison to the woman I am now. The latter is still young and fumbling. Funny how I always feel as though I'm young and fumbling. I was thinking this morning, as I peered into the bathroom mirror at work to reapply my lipstick, how much different I thought I'd be at 27 when I was still 22, 23, 24. The older I get the quicker I hope I'll catch this wistful version of myself by the shirt collar, pull her back toward where I'm standing now.

But who is she? Eloquent? Composed? Sophisticated? Financially stable? Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to chase down perfection. Sometimes still, I wonder why it's so hard to be happy with my present self. Since I was very young this internal battle of human worthiness and self-possession has plagued my sense of identity. Because it really is a sense of it, just a vague fragrance of longing venturing ahead of me. But I know she's not real. She is complete fiction. She is a mere scent of an idea flitting around my head. While I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to improve ourselves, it's seductive to lose our heads in our fantasies of what we'd rather be.

On the other hand, I think there is a part of us that needs a certain amount of delusion on which to function. It abides by the "fake it till you make it" concept. I've always struggled to grasp this delusion, even as I enable her. I think there are ways, though, in which we can get at this person. We can make decisions in her honor; we can stay conscious of our immediate surroundings so as not to scare her off with our human penchant for self-destruction; we can start by finding things, however small, to gift with our thanks.

The question, then, we have to ask ourselves: Who is your ideal self? And, how does she influence the person you actually are?

Good judgment, thoughtfulness, gratitude. Without consciously framing them, these are the tenants I've been attempting to grasp in order to bridge these divides. It could happen that in pursuing the person you thought you wanted to be you're better able to understand who it is you need to be.


What are you deciding on today? Where are your thoughts? Who are you thankful for?