Glass, Ambition and a Gradual Saga of Self-recognition

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

The self-discrepancy between one’s actual self and one’s ideal self, which is associated with negative emotional states (e.g., depression) or unhealthy lifestyles (e.g., eating disorders), is mostly caused and intensified by exposure to unrealistic images of others (e.g., celebrities or magazine models) — (Kim & Sundar, 2012)

It’s been the past two years since the last time I have been utterly working hard for myself. What keep me from striving was myself alone. I used to perceive myself as ambitious and at the same time, I realized that I keep laying down and easy to surrender. I have been stuck in the past, I keep imagining myself as I want to be seen and not really living in a reality.

What I view about myself is different from what I really want about my ideal self and it’s what Carl Rogers said as ‘incongruent’. When there is a little overlap so self-actualization could be difficult. I keep reminding myself that I have to be like I want to be seen and to become like my self-image, I simultaneously denied and/or repress what I’ve been feeling at that moment.

Day by day, I become farther away from my ideal self. I felt like, I picture myself through a ‘glass’ and imagine how I appear to other people, think about how they judged me or how they felt about me, and unconsciously form myself through their eyes and become even farther from what I wanted myself to be seen.

So, what is this ‘Glass’?

Cooley argued that the dynamic of self-creation is similar to a looking-glass (a mirror) in that: “As we see our face, figure, and dress in the glass and are interested in them because they are ours…so in imagination we perceive in another’s mind some thought of our appearance, manner, aims, deeds, character, friends, and so on, and are variously affected by it”

The idea of ourselves in others' eyes is always interesting. Because we are aware that others are perceiving, reacting to, and judging us, so we attempt to shape the impressions. Life is like on a stage where we are the actors. When in front of the stage the actors should play the roles as they should be.

Living on a theater stage is somehow exhausting. Sometimes our role is an employee, sometimes it’s a spouse, family member, or business owner. We always transform to various persona and not seldom question, “What is our role?”, “Is it the true self that we play?”, “How the audience see us?”, or “Have we become a good actor?” All these thoughts are frequently spinning around. Especially for me in my 20-ish something. Hence it’s why Harter (2002) said that adults are more often concerned with what is their true self.

All of those questioned are plausible. Besides, we’re Homo socius, we keep shifting between our roles to socialize. As an amateur writer myself, I once wrote on this platform to romanticize our own life. I told myself to behave like I want to be seen and keep replaying that it’s okay to fake it until we can actually make it. Unless I just realized that it ain’t actually fake. It’s just our mechanism to transform to the various roles as a Homo socius.

What kind of ambition do we have?

And now we have another question. What kind of ambition do we actually have? Are we drowning in endless daydreaming? Where we spend a long period engaging in structured daydreams or fantasies about ourselves and neglect the responsibilities we have in real life, or are we already living in reality and accepting whatever is our true ‘role’ at that moment?

An ambition occurs if we transform a daydream into a wish, a goal we’d like to achieve. Not only the temporary role that we play but also including the dreams that we already have, a dream about how we want to be seen by others.

At this point, I have concluded that I was still far away from what my self wanted.

An Actual Saga on Finding The True Self

Let’s wrap the saga into the five-stage of grief — except it’s the five-stage of self-recognition:

  1. Negligence. First I’m trying to stay calm and not overthink too much. Whatever happens, happens. I can’t control it. I believe if I can still fix my real life when it’s getting messed up. I still can fix it later. I keep telling myself if I’m worried, I will suffer twice, repress all of the feelings I felt and that’s how I keep my life going. I refuse to look vulnerable since I think that’s the new way of self-deprecating.
  2. Outrage. Then I got very freaked out and mad about life. I read many books to distract my mind, worked really hard like I owe someone my time. I’m feeling guilty for having a good rest cause I simultaneously feel not deserve to. The anger is very intense as I keep struggling to live.
  3. Bargaining. Then I went through that phase where I thought I can actually work that out, the phase where I keep blaming myself for why I can’t be like another human being who is very content and passionate with their lives. Blame if only I use time more productively, I can be so proud of myself.
  4. Depression. At this point, I’m just drawn into my depression hole. Where I think I deserve nobody, that I’m such a failure, my life is a mess, and ‘fog’ has become my new air. This is not the concept of self that I actually wanted.
  5. Embrace. After the long saga — and many nights of crying myself to sleep, I open my timeline and found so many encouraging tweets or written said if it’s okay to slow down and take your time as long you need to. This is good since I never really enjoyed my free time. I keep telling myself it’s okay if something in my life can’t fix. Replay the “whatever happens, happens. I can’t control it” mantra and try to live in reality even if I don’t like it.

Because of that, I end up taking a good 2 years worth of process to rest. Not really rest hence I prefer to mention it as “slowing down”. Even though I don’t really like myself right now and sometimes live in my imagination about an ideal life, I still need to continue this saga. Sharping my acting skill to transform into various roles I need to be and that doesn’t make me any less of my ideal self, I guess. Like I could have my own ideal self and at the same time do what I should do in my real self form.

Those are still understandable and not completely mistaken hence as a part of society, we could have our own persona. Sometimes it’s not always about how they perceive us but it’s more likely about the gradual saga of self-recognition that we lived. Slowly but sure, we’re coming along. Even if one day we realize that the ideal self never exists but at least we have tried to live a meaningful life.

“I have gradually come to one negative conclusion about the good life. It seems to me that the good life is not in any fixed state. It is not, in my estimation, a state of virtue, or contentment, or nirvana, or happiness. It is not a condition in which the individual is adjusted or fulfilled or actualized. To use psychological terms, it is not a state of drive-reduction, or tension-reduction, or homeostasis”. (Rogers, 1967, p. 185–186)




(n.) Resident clumsy bean and barely struggled with her last two brain-cells

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Ayu F.

Ayu F.

(n.) Resident clumsy bean and barely struggled with her last two brain-cells

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