The Idea of You

At any given moment, there are two versions of you in the world. There’s the actual you, and the version of you in my head. Sometimes the two line up, but just as often they do not. It’s entirely my own fault. As much as I try to stop doing it, I just don’t know how.

I’m the type of person who lives inside their head. I run through possibilities and permutations of the conversations I want to have with a person on an infinite loop when I can’t have the actual thing. The problem is, sometimes I try too hard to make the person in the real world match the idea in my head. I attempt to suss out the secret meaning on likely innocuous and honest statements, looking for the answers I want instead of the ones that may have already been presented. Any statement that is not completely straightforward can be warped to fit into my idealized you. People are transformed to suit the narratives I imagine: crushes become the ideal relationship, disputants become bitter rivals.

I’d feel worse if I didn’t see it happening all the time around me. People do it all the time. Celebrities are assigned personalities that may or not reflect their true selves. Historical figures are altered to fit into the roles authors, politicians, pundits, and researchers wish them to play. People lie to themselves about relationships, about friends, about themselves, and the world around them. We fiddle with the truth until it fits our needs.

Perception is funny thing. The world around us, seemingly solid and obvious, becomes malleable and ephemeral in our heads. The human brain, intent on seeing order and patterns even when none exist, reforms the world to suit its function, no matter how rational one tries to be. Even one such as myself, convinced there is no such thing as fate, imagines feeling the tug of it from time to time. I have looked for “signs.” Presented deals to non-existent entities. Imagined the wheels of karma. Made completely illogical if-this-then-that correlations.

Of course, nothing comes of it. How could it? Why should one expect that a series of stars over a trillion miles away could have any effect on the tiny lives we lead on a statistically insignificant rock? Rigel and Betelgeuse have as much to do with my existence as our own world has to do with the speculative life on the planets orbiting them. Which is to say: they affect nothing, or at least so little as not to matter.

It can be hard to face the truth. Reality is frightening and inhospitable. Reality tells me I may never achieve even my most pedestrian of goals; that there is absolutely nothing out in the world specifically for me. Reality says that no matter how hard I work, I may never grasp even the lowest rung of the ladder I wish to climb. It says that everything I have achieved has come to pass with at least some element of luck. It is easier to believe that I deserve success because I have struggled and because I am talented — even though that isn’t always the case. I am quick to transform hope into expectation. To say, “This time, things will work, because I have earned it.”

In my head there are libraries of perfectly ordered fantasies. Sometimes you’re in there, and I am sorry to have put the weight of these unreasonable expectations upon you.

Posted on January 23, 2014 and filed under Creative.