If you strip away all the extraneous stuff in your life, what would be left?
In modern society, it’s hard to connect to our true identity because of all the static. The expectations, the influences, the demands: all this external pressure makes it difficult to know our true selves.
It can be helpful to take a step back and think about your essential self. By essential self, I mean the person at your very heart, the person you have left after you strip away everything not essential to your being.
To some, this statement engenders a visceral negative reaction. Many people want to be admired for what they do, and some people, such as authors, musicians, and actors, depend on it for their livelihood. But there are different levels of fandom. Some are healthy and appropriate, and some are extreme, bordering on harassment.
The word “fan” is a shortened version of “fanatic,” meaning marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. It comes from the Latin fanaticus, the definition of which I like even more: insanely but divinely inspired. The spectrum of fandom ranges from admiring and appreciating someone’s work, to being influenced by them, to trying to emulate them, to worshiping them, all the way to trying to become part of their lives.
At every moment of every day, we have a choice. What should we do? Sometimes we feel productive. Sometimes we feel creative. Sometimes we feel like having fun. How do we decide what to do with this particular moment? What can we do to make this moment as meaningful and fulfilling as it can possibly be?
What about when we feel uninspired? Our time in this life is limited, but does that mean we have to make every second of every day count? If we’re just not feeling it, is it OK to become mindless and browse YouTube videos?
When I’m feeling uninspired or unproductive, I can’t force myself to create or produce. But that doesn’t mean I have to surrender, make myself a drink, and plop down on the couch. There’s a lot of space between not being productive and not doing anything. There’s nothing wrong with mindless entertainment, and we all need some downtime (see “Downtime”). But if nothing is the only thing we can imagine doing when we’re not feeling productive, then we’re missing out on a wealth of possibilities.