If anyone has been watching the Blacklist, they would know that much of the “mystery” of the show has been revealed in the last couple of weeks, written as if the show was ending before it was renewed, and letting many small cats out of the bag, if not the largest. I enjoy the show, and since it is on NetFlix, I watched the very first episode the other day, seeing how they described things, to see if any of the original content didn’t seem to match the latest version. Mostly I just wanted to watch the very beginning where he turns himself in and says he will talk only with Elizabeth Keen.
Yet in watching the episode, I saw a short scene that I had completely forgotten. Liz is meeting with an Assistant Director (her boss for the rest of the seasons, but she hadn’t met him yet) and he’s trying to find out ‘why her?’. She’s a newly trained profiler, first day on the job, and she has no answer. So he asks her to profile herself. She starts answering a bit about her work experience and he stops her…holds up her file and says, “I’ve read your resume and file. What’s not in there?”. So she profiles herself, how her coworkers see her, her plans for a child, her deep-seated desire to understand the nature of crime and the criminal mind as a form of control, etc. Cool concepts.
But it got me thinking. As I’m feeling lost, and wondering how to respond, can I profile myself? What would I say?
My profile of myself
I am an analytical introvert but can appear extroverted in situations where I have a predefined role or in a controlled environment, often betrayed by a desire to talk, mostly about myself or to tell stories. I like to tell myself that I’m a writer, based more on potential and abilities than actual results. I aspire, in all things, to be first true to myself or at least true to a self-actualized or sometimes self-aggrandized vision of myself. I assume other roles by choice, such as son, husband, father, worker, manager, friend, by the way I choose to live my life, but at the core, I see myself first, a single entity, the smallest indivisible unit I can be.
I talk a lot, digressing regularly, monopolizing conversations not as much out of mis-perceived narcissism or self-centredness as out of fear of chaos, loss of control. Talking helps me frame the experience, control the narrative so to speak, literally and figuratively and insecurity makes me talk more when I should listen or when I am already nervous around people.
I am obsessed with nuance. The shades of gray hidden in word choices, concepts that defy identification or discussion. Ethereal differences between similar concepts, positions. I would rather do the wrong thing for the right reasons than the right thing for the wrong reasons. If I can, I would choose to do nothing if not for the right reasons, even where failing to do so might not be what I want or the best solution for everyone. I frequently care more about the means than the ends, but even with means, I care more about the motivation behind choices. I can pursue nuances down rabbitholes to the point of analysis paralysis, well beyond what is “good enough”. I stop myself better in a work setting than I do a personal setting.
Living most of my life inside my head can be exhausting as there is no “off switch”. Yet I pride myself on my brain,. It is the most important part of my sense of “me”, and has been since I was very young. I don’t know if I have a soul, or a religious spirit, or an indefinable “consciousness”, but I have a functional brain, and I’m arrogant about how it works, an arrogance that can taint relationships with others, but I would choose to embrace self-reflection over friendship every time if I was conscious of it. It nourishes me and sustains me in ways the body can never do. Physically, intellectually, even emotionally, ironically. I analyse my behaviour, my feelings, my motivations. I constantly review, consider, judge my own behaviour. I can’t be “me” without it.
The physical world doesn’t interest me in the same way, or at least, not all aspects of it. My corporeal form is a mystery to me, a surprise anytime I look in the mirror to realize I even HAVE a corporeal form in a sense. I avoid manual projects requiring dexterity of movement, or skill in action, rather than the exercise of the little gray cells.
I have three competing thoughts at war in my soul, a triangular battle:
- One side of the triangle is the intellectual ideal, a self-actualized version of me in thought and deed. Not as an abstract but as a vision of who I could be…self-contained, independent, resilient;
- The second side is the ideal of the emotional me, the one that embraces others, builds connections, who is definitely NOT self-contained or independent, whose strength lies in connections forged with others…family, friends, a community, strangers on the street even; and,
- A third side of the triangle, serving as the base for the war…the “real” me, I guess. Influenced by both, buffeted by the outside storms, living. Existing. And with the harshly clouded and biased filter of self-assessment and impossibly high standards, feeling quite often like a failure not in the attempt but in the result. Like I am not achieving any of the potential versions of myself that are better than the current one. Occupying space and time. Flotsam in the tide, no direction, no value-added beyond fate. Seeing too many trees in my life that need tending, not the forest that is often thriving.
I live with three great fears. The greatest public fear is the idea of wasted potential. As a father, as a husband, even as a writer. That I could have done “more” or “better”, even if I didn’t even know what “more” or “better” looked like nor how to define them. Yet the idea of wasted potential seems simple, obvious, clear.
My second less public fear is one that was nailed by a personality profile that I did some time ago (2004 or so). That the nuances I see, the ones that I think are the most important thing in the world, the pinnacle of my reason, the outcome of all my analysis and reflection are not only beyond my ability to explain to others but also that for many people, even if I could explain them, their reaction very well might be simply “meh”.
And of course the greatest fear, the greatest weakness based on the greatest strength…that my mind will falter, and whatever “me” that I am will simply cease to be. Not a physical death but a cognitive one.
I don’t entirely know where that came from. It’s been germinating for a while, as you can see. But even with all that mental masturbation, I am not entirely sure where it leaves me. It’s unlike anything I have ever wrote about myself before, certainly rawer than anything I’ve written before either.
Yet it feels like I’m on the right track to somewhere. I just don’t know where the journey is going. Maybe I don’t need to. I know where I am, I know somewhat what my choice of destinations looks like. Maybe all that I need to accept for now is today’s step.