Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Be Gretchen" -- on being yourself

I posted a review a while back of The Happiness Project. I wanted to return to that book for just a minute and share some of the parts that have continued to make me think, even weeks after reading.

One of the author's rules during this project was to be herself -- to Be Gretchen. And while "be yourself" has become maybe the most trite advice there ever was, the way she talked about Being Gretchen really hit home for me. She said:

"I tended to overrate the fun activities that I didn't do and underrate my own inclinations. I felt like the things that other people enjoyed were more valuable, or more cultured... more, well, legitimate. But now it was time to 'Be Gretchen.' I needed to acknowledge to myself what I enjoyed, not what I wished I enjoyed."

This sentiment hit home so much for me! Remember my post about being an introvert? I think this is a driving force behind it, and I hadn't really identified it before reading this book. The college lifestyle and stereotype makes going out and partying the only "valid" way to have a good time in college. But that wasn't the life I wanted to lead, and so I felt boring.

This is me being me :)
Outside of my introversion, it's also hit me other places: I think that it is really difficult for me to take personality tests (like StrengthsQuest and the Myers-Briggs test or other tests that tell you what you're supposed to be when you grow up) honestly because I take them hopefully and wistfully. Sure, I'd love to be in the music business! Yes, I could drive a truck! Yes, I rely on my emotions more than my head! (But would I really? And do I really? Or do I just think that would be cool but would I really hate it? Who knows.)

Also, I really, really want to be someone who takes off to hike the Appalachians or who can live a lifestyle where they travel from country to country following their wanderlust wherever it takes them. But I think in a more traditional, nine-to-five-job frame of mind. And that's ok. I think.

Still, it's sad to admit you'll never be That Person, or That Kind of Cool. Gretchen talked about that feeling as well:

"But I have to admit it -- being Gretchen  and accepting my true likes and dislikes brings me a kind of sadness. I will never visit a jazz club at midnight, hang out in artists' studios, jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn.... It make me sad for two reasons. First, it makes me sad to realize my limitations. The world offers so much! -- so much beauty, so much fun, and I am unable to appreciate most of it. But it also makes me sad because in many ways, I wish I were different. One of my Secrets of Adulthood is 'You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you like to do.' I have a lot of notions about what I wish I liked to do, about the subjects and occupations that I wish interested me. But it doesn't matter what I wish I were like. I am Gretchen."

All this being said -- I will continue to try new things. Because you never know which ones will stick. (the first time I went running was miserable. and now...)

But I think it's okay to find that some of those things you think would be so cool to like are not so fun to you, really. I don't like playing flip cup (the drinking game). It's too much pressure and I'm bad at it and I don't like it.

And that is ooooooookay.



Is there anything you feel like you should like or wish you liked that you just don't? Others on my list: snowboarding, red wine and fancy (expensive) haircuts.







PS: another great e.e. cummings quote: "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."

10 comments:

Kate said...

That is one of my favoriiiiiiiite quotes from e.e. cummings. And one of my favs ever.

I love this post. So much. I think it hits me square on the head.

I would love to the be the kind of person that enjoys going to parties. Or the kind of person that can feel completely comfortable dropping everything only to travel for a few months. I envy those people. But sometimes I just have to realize that it's just not who I am.

I have a friend that literally will drain every penny from her bank account to travel. And then when something goes wrong, she just finds a way to make it work. Somehow.
That isn't me. I can't do that. I worry. I stress. I need my finances to be ok. And THAT is ok. We are just two different people. And sometimes? She tells me how much she envies my serious relationship and stable job. Those are the moments when I realize.. it's not so bad being Kate.

Ech and Will said...

I always thought I was more of an extrovert until recently. I actually have a post queued up on the topic. I think you have a really awesome life. I love reading all about it in your blog. I definitely think you're "that kind of cool". I could never run races like you do and I think you are so amazing for it.

Amy said...

love the e.e. cummings quote!
Girl trying new things is good and scary and fabulous all at the same time so i get you!
Growing up...your likes change, your dislikes change...YOU change that is the whole process of it.
Sometimes it comes easily and other times you're like "but why, why do i have to/want to change?!"

GOOD thought provoking post! <3

The Lady Okie said...

I love this post, Abbey. That part of her book resonated with me too. You've actually given me a post idea, so I'm going to save my "wish" list for that and you can come check it out ;) But I will say I'm with you on the red wine thing.

Kaitlin said...

Hmm, I think I need to read this book! Also, amazing quote at the end!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Abbey I really love your level of introspection here. I think you have given me a post idea as well (much like Lady Okie said).

Cheers,

Keith

Tristan Schlegel said...

So so happy you loved that book :)

But I totally get this. My freshmen year, I never ever wanted to do any of that "college" stuff. It just wasn't me. And I think that's okay too!

Now I just do whatever I want. Whenever I want. And after lots of this kind of thinking (feeling like every one else is having so much more fun than me) I'm totally okay with what I do and I like to do and happy with myself for doing what I want!

I think it's just part of growing up and becoming a real life grown up too! :)

Katrin said...

Great post! I think I should really give that book another chance!

jaime said...

I don't like wine or beer - and I live in a city where there is a brewery on every corner. (We were voted Beer City USA a few times. Huge beer town.) I wish I could like either, but alas. It's just not meant to be.

I'm also not a fan of sports/activities that involve people relying on me to be good - or coordinated. That's why I stick with running. It's all for me. I hope my son doesn't inherit my clumsiness/lack of desire to participate in team sports.

Holly said...

I just started reading this book! I can't wait to read more. But I agree with this post a lot!!!

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