Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10/27/11—Questioning Your Authenticity

Today's Draw: The Princess of Cups from the Victoria Regina. What parts of your life can you say are truly authentic to you at a soul level? Do you ever find yourself doing things and wondering why? Do you sometimes feel like you're washed away on someone else's plan?

The Princess of Cups is a romantic, idealistic, a dreamer. In the book for the Victoria Regina, it tells us that the girl in the drawing is a young Queen Mary. As a teenager, she was chosen to marry Prince Albert Victor. But just after they were engaged, he died. 

Everyone loved Mary because she was so affable and the royal family wanted her to transfer her engagement to the next in line to the throne, George. She complied and they ended up having a good marriage—by all accounts a better one than if she had married Albert Victor, with whom she was not in love. 

There was—and still is in some societies—a time when women were unable to command their fate. They were told who to marry. They were kept from higher education and a career. They were expected to be socially and intellectually subservient to men. They were socialized to think in certain ways. And their main roles included reproduction and home economics. (Do they even have that in schools anymore? Home Ec?)

The truly shocking thing is that this was going in our country less than a hundred years ago! For some of us, it was the reality for our mother's or grandmother's generation. How far we've come. But have we—any of us, male or female—truly come into command of our own power? 

How many times have you just gone along with the plan? Do you know the difference between your desires and the desires of "the plan"? Cooperation is one thing. But putting something like marriage or Queenship in the hands of others is a little much. Still, it worked out for Queen Mary.

Many years back I remember having a "crisis" about what in my life is authentic to me and what's not. What was a function of the way I was raised or socialized? What's a function of what I think society expects from me? These are worthy questions to consciously explore, because you might find you're following a plan that's not of your own making. 

I know cleaning is one of those things for me...haha. Growing up, we had a very clean house. My house? Not so clean. Kind of cluttery. Not Hoarders bad, though I do have one Hoarders room. But you'll find dust in places that were unacceptable growing up. I don't move furniture very often to vacuum. I only mop when I can't stand it anymore. My kitchen would horrify some of you. But it's authentic to me. Cleanliness isn't a priority. Nobody's getting sick or anything, but then again, House Beautiful isn't setting up any photo shoots.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not filthy. If you came over here, things would be neat and surfaces would be wiped, but it certainly wouldn't live up to my mother's standards. And, when my mother has a place of her own, she can keep it any way she likes! (That's just a joke. My mom passed 27 years ago.) But when I asked myself why this was one of my priorities when I a) live alone and b) don't feel comfortable in sterile, minimal environments, I came up empty. I maintain to my standards. I still wrestle with society's "plan" for how things "should" be. But I find that, by not inviting society over to my house, we're able to maintain a healthy balance. 

See, this may seem like a silly thing, but what it really all comes down is perfectionism. At least for me. I remember in my younger years when I lived in an efficiency, my place would be immaculate, all the grocery shopping would be done, fresh flowers would arranged and my farmer's market trip would all be done between 5am and noon on Saturday. It felt good to have everything so ordered with the whole day stretched out before me, sure. But it wasn't me. The voice saying "do all this by noon and dust and polish and blah, blah, blah" wasn't mine. My voice was saying "what kind of freak gets up at 5am on a Saturday just so they can run around like a chicken with their head cut off?"

When you're caught up in living automatically, without questioning why you stress yourself out to do X or act in a Y way, it's so hard to tell whether you're doing this because it's the plan or whether you're doing it because that's who you are. At least it was hard for me. I'm sure there are still many things I do without question because it's the plan. They're hard to spot sometimes. 

So consider what you do or how you act or what you might agree to that's not quite you. It will probably show its face as something that takes way more of your energy to do, be or say than it should. Or maybe it's like my perfectionism thing, where you just wonder if you're a little crazy for being the way you are. Then ask if the insanity is authentic to you. Could you live, act and be another way and feel more like yourself? If so consider doing something about it. :)

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