Like most things nowadays, the thought for this post was prompted by a meme I came across the internet that read – I’ll never be able to lie to myself about all the shit I would do if I had time.
Now let’s back up.
When I was studying Shakespeare in school I had once compared my mother to Brutus – the idealist.
At the time she was facing a lot of ugly politics and hidden agendas in her place of work at a teaching institute. But she refused to compromise on her ideals for the greater good even though they hurt her more times than did well.
Back then it infuriated me to see her suffer for these ideals, and I swore to myself to not be like Brutus when I grow up. But be more like Antony – expedient.
But somehow, as I grew older, I inherited being an idealist.
The only thing was, I was adamant not to admit to being one.
I have an idea of things, I would say.
And I would tell myself that the idea was based on an aspirational ambition.
In reality, that idea that was very much grounded in ideals, mainly loyalty and fairness.
But I let myself believe it was ambition – that I wanted to be someone, do something, grow.
I was passionate about my ideas – people said it was my defining quality – I didn’t stop at anything to live up to my ideas.
Yet, what I was trying to live up to was a false idea of my ideals.
I knew it.
I knew why.
But I was afraid of what I knew.
So I sought comfort in the unknown, the uncertain.
Uncertainty gave me a rush – it was a chance to keep romanticising my ideas.
Because ideas meant possibilities.
It meant I could keep asking questions.
It meant I could persist to find answers.
So I pledged allegiance.
I became so loyal towards my ideas that I never gave myself the chance to really know them.
Every idea became plenary – no-one could dispute it, not even myself.
Ironically as loyal as I was to my idea(l)s, I was being wildly unfair to myself.
Because I wasn’t really thinking about myself.
My ideas were always about someone or something.
And my ideals, they were simply standards for myself.
I was being loyal to someone or something; never considered the other way round.
I had to be absolutely fair to someone or something; never thought to myself.
Knowing what those would mean for me would mean knowing myself, knowing what I wanted.
And that would mean I could not get what I want.
And I could not be weak.
I was Antony.
There it is.
And because I was so loyal to this idea I never questioned its reality.
The truth is I do not fear the known.
I fear weakness.
The weakness that comes from upholding others to your ideals.
Because you know what you want.
And that gives them a chance to let you down.
Making you weak.
So coming back full circle to the meme – I’ll never be able to lie to myself about all the shit I would do if I had time.
This is a reality.
This busts my ideas.
This forces me to think about myself.
To know what I want.
To expose myself to wanting it.
And to fear knowing this.
But what if I can reframe my fear (of the known)?
Call it curiosity – to know.
Now I have my possibilities.
Now I have my unknown.
Now I have a chance to be brave to find out.
Because being an idealist is being brave enough to have ideals, not only for yourself but also for those in your life.
It is being brave to take a stand for those ideals.
It is being open to knowing that not everyone or everything will stand true to your ideals.
It means being brave to face knowing that.
Yet to be brave to know what you want.
And brave to face the unknown of not getting what you want.
Know that this is not a feat for the weak.
Being an idealist requires strength.
To endure suffering.
For the greater good.
For doing the right thing.
Because it is always the right thing.
Even when it is not the easy thing.
As my mother did.
For her ideals.
She is an idealist.
She knows what she wants.
She’s not afraid to know it.
And she is the strongest person I know.