The other night I was called a narcissist. This was upsetting for enough reasons to make me bring it up multiple times with multiple people over the past few days (which would make me a narcissist?), mostly because I hate narcissists and I’m very aware of other’s feelings, am not arrogant (judgmental and dismissive maybe) nor have an inflated sense of self-worth. The opposite if anything. When parsed further, it was more that I can be self-absorbed and take things personally. Sure. I take issue with being cast as pathological.
Yes, that’s rich coming from someone who has posted publicly for 18 years in a forum called “Project Me.”
And then minutes later I late-night scrolled through Twitter and couldn’t help but click on “BoJack Horseman’s Will Arnett on Why We’re All Narcissists.” Haha, yes, we all are, it’s ok.
I’m no BoJack. However, I’ve been living alone for three years now, the past year and a half two subways away from friends, I work from home 2-3 days per week (and can go 8 hours saying no more than three sentences when in the office), I’ve finally grown comfortable with dining alone when it used to invoke dread and anxiety. I am in a relationship with someone 2,500 miles away with months in between visits. So, how do you avoid self-absorption when you’re with no one but yourself nearly almost all the time?
I’m an old-school, now old, blogger, but I’m kind of a horrible writer in the personal essay sense. (Ok, not horrible–I just want to be next-level.) Maybe this is why. I am aware that a good essay speaks to universal truths and is relatable, inward but with audience in mind.. I don’t do that here. That was never the point. No matter how much I read, I don’t seem to improve. Something non-beauty-related Sloane Crosley, one of those smart, successful types who seems to exist effortlessly, mentioned in her beauty product profile on Into the Gloss, made me go oh yeah. Of course. Obviously.
A funny trick to decent personal essays is that they’re not actually about you. There’s a great Annie Dillard quote that I’m going to butcher, which is rather fitting because it’s about butchering, but she talks about how the process of writing is like splitting wood. If you aim for the wood, you’ll miss. But if you aim for the chopping block you’ll hit it. Aim just past the wood. And I think what she means is that there’s a sensibility and an idea and some sort of place that you’re trying to get to that is perpetually located just outside of where you are.
I’m going to be 44 tomorrow, which is a complete marvel. Maybe I’ll stick around here. Maybe I will focus on other things. It’s been real.