We can lie to ourselves if we want. It’s really quite easy to do.
We can hide behind excuses. We can hide behind obligations. We can hide behind the fact that we’re ‘too busy’. We can hide behind our fears. We can hide behind other people.
We can hide behind distractions and superficialities. We can cut our hair how we want. We can dress how we want. We can choose to spend our free time how we want. We can convince ourselves that unimportant things are the difference between life and death. We can go to great lengths to find every distraction that exists, and then distract ourselves some more.
We can fill our life with meaningless things because it’s easy. We can fill our head with meaningless thoughts because it’s safe. We can spend money to buy objects that make us feel whole for a short while. We can surround ourselves with people and places and engage in behaviors that help us forget who we are for brief moments at a time.
But at some point, no matter how long we’ve managed to put it off, it’s inevitable that we have to face ourselves. All these distractions, possessions, and excuses will melt away until the only thing we’re left with is ourselves. In this inevitable moment, nothing else matters. In this inevitable moment, nothing else means anything.
It’s just you.
At some point, you’ll invariably find yourself sitting alone in that metaphorical room. With no distractions. With nothing left to buy. With nothing left to consume. With nothing safe to think about. It’s just you, by yourself. Left to contemplate who you are and what your life has meant.
Maybe it will happen to you tomorrow. Maybe it will happen to you in 50 years. Maybe it has already happened to you. If it has and you were able to look deep within yourself and come out on the other side, I’m sure you consider yourself lucky.
But for those of us who haven’t reached that point, our moment is always going to be waiting for us somewhere down the road. And that moment will provide the opportunity for us to contemplate the truly important things about our life and who we are.
In many ways, it’s a scary proposition. Nothing can really prepare us for this inevitable moment. No one else can help us in this inevitable moment. There’s no script as to how it should play out. There’s no right way to do it and there’s no wrong way to do it. But eventually, we have to face ourselves.
We might consider our place in the world. We might consider that we ended up living a life that didn’t make us happy. We might consider that we have done things we’re not proud of. We might consider that we have been unnecessarily cruel to people who did not deserve it. We might consider that even though we could have done so many wonderful things, we didn’t do much of anything. We might consider that we have not achieved what we set out to achieve. That our dreams were pushed aside. That we gave up before we ever really attempted anything worthwhile. That we listened to the people who told us we couldn’t do something. Or worse yet, that we listened to the people who told us we shouldn’t even try.
It might be a very painful experience. But perhaps more than that, it might be an experience that we’re not ready for. Which is why it would seem that we’re constantly doing everything we can to delay this moment from happening. The TV shows. The movies. The next big sporting event. The Facebook posts. The pictures on Instagram. We know these distractions all too well. They surround us at seemingly every turn. More often than not, they help us make it through the day. They help us keep our sanity. They take our mind off of the things we’d rather not think about. After all, we can’t realistically be expected to spend all our time thinking about things that might make us uncomfortable.
But at some point, all of these distractions will be gone. At some point, they won’t mean anything.
And then we’ll have to ask ourselves the difficult questions. The questions we never wanted to answer. The questions we’ve tried to ignore whenever that voice in our head started getting louder. The questions that reveal who we are. The questions that reveal what we spent our time valuing. The questions that reveal if we were true to ourselves.
Though the prospect of considering these things is difficult, a life without self-reflection and honesty is incomplete. A life without facing oneself is not much of a life at all. In many ways, that life is hollow. In many ways, that life is not all that it could have been.
I’m not ashamed to say that I am not ready to answer these questions yet. I don’t think I could get through all of them right now. And right now, that’s okay. But at some point I know I’ll have to take a long, hard look at myself. I’m not sure when that moment will come, but there’s no doubt it my mind that it’s waiting for me whenever I’m ready.
And that’s the maddening beauty of facing ourselves; the opportunity to do so always surrounds us no matter how much we wish it didn’t.