I couldn’t sleep much last night, having made the inexcusable mistake of eating a donut far into the fourth quarter. I got up and walked over to the kitchen table thinking, “it’s probably too late to eat this donut,” but then I did it anyway.
So, while I was trying to sleep and wrassling around with my covers instead, I was tangling also with those weird semi-conscious thoughts that seem to surface when I’m almost awake. I got thinking about a girl I had a crush on my sophomore year of high school, and I thought of a conversation I’d had earlier in the day with a friend. I wondered what, exactly, has always allowed me to torture myself over girls who will never be more than half interested in me at best. I wondered why I feel like all my time in general is wasted.
And immediately, thanks to my awesome donut-powered brain, I knew that my stubbornness was to blame. I’ve got this cloudy idea of how a girlfriend should look and behave, and when I meet a girl who seems to fit the bill I behave in ways that’d put your average romantic comedy to shame. If you’ve seen any romantic comedy ever, you know that inducing shame is no small feat. And as for my overall achievements/lack of achievements, I arbitrarily choose something that seems good and then I go for it. When I get to whatever “it” was… meh. What else is there to do?
From that little realization I bounced (again, thank you donut) to another thought: I’m a poster child for the Dr. Phil “Be true to yourself” line of feelgood mumbo-jumbo. Such a huge portion of the decisions I make I base on what I want, to the exclusion of anything else. If for a moment I feel selfish or greedy, I consider the way I’ve lived – no drugs or sex or drunken misdemeanors – as if I’ve earned something. As much as I’ve been given, it’d be hard to earn anything.
But just like junk science, junk psychology is hard to avoid and harder to get rid of. So we get talk shows and dramas and even entertainment on the less-fuzzy end of the chart offering simple truths: Believe in yourself! Be true to your heart! You’ve got to put yourself first sometimes! …What a load of yuppie crap. You could cover every point as easily by saying “don’t be a lousy fraud,” but that doesn’t sound cute. Stupid as it is, how often have I made choices this way without thinking? Even my skull is not thick enough for me to go through life immune to prevailing advice and attitudes.
I can’t help but think of the silly chorus to an old Switchfoot song:
Go, go where you are
Anchor your roots underneath
Doubt your doubts
And believe your beliefs.
As faithful a Christian as I consider myself on my most pompous days, I tend to go around believing other people’s beliefs. Jesus didn’t use his brief time in the spotlight to say “Hey, dudes, God sent me here to remind you – be, like, true to yourself, man.” He insisted that we be dead to ourselves, and though I know that’s how I should think it’s easy to be true to me instead of… well, the Truth.
It comes back around to the simplest questions – if you’re going to believe in a god, I don’t know how you’d go with any other. If you’re not, “believe in yourself” is kind of the default option, kind of the source for all my failures, and kind of useless advice.