For the people who have been telling me since kindergarden that I think I'm all that, and for the relatives who don't read this blog because it has too many big words, I am your loss, which I'm down with. For the people I've bullshitted to, substituting a keen sense of exactly how much I can get away with for the rewards of deeper honesty, you are my loss, I am sorry.
I've been reading this book on "launching your personal brand," which is not quite as terrible as it sounds. Close. Beneath the stink of yesterday's trends is an (accidentally) insightful commentary on reputation, which is old, stolid, inevitable. The most authentic parts of you are seldom what anyone is willing to pay you for, but authenticity speaks to us, in the marketplace where we are starved for it as much as anywhere else.
I don't know when I came to the conclusion that God would strike me down with lightning if the people around me doubted for an instant that I was Smart. But at some point--maybe being forced to live with myself for long hours in the simple dark, maybe learning just how much it is that I love sunlight--I began to let it go.
I like physics, and like philosophy--even school philosophy--but not nearly enough to devote my life to either of them. I've been driven to that in an attempt to prove myself, seeking the rubber stamp, but maybe it's no good; maybe the rubber stamp will crush you. Maybe I'm worth not being crushed.
Of course I care what people think. I want them to think I'm nice, that I'm pretty, that I'm smart; I want them to think my taste is good and I'm not too weird and my breath doesn't smell bad. Commonly, I want to be the one insightful voice that resonates so deeply and so compellingly that they can't forget or disagree with me--I want to be so smart that people love me. Sometimes it works. Sort of. Strategy wise, I can't recommend it--I've heard physical beauty works better, maybe you can give me some tips.
And, of course, it's no accident people who accomplish something have often spent some time alone. And it's no accident that in letting go of some of the expectations of others, I realize I've already accomplished a lot that I care about.