I don’t know where to start. I guess I should start off by explaining why I want to start a blog. My reasons are largely selfish. I am a fairly new stay-at-home mom, and I need something adult to do in between peek-a-boos and itsy bitsy spiders. Also, I have a daughter now. There are many things I want to teach her, but mostly I feel a strong need to be a positive role model in her life. I have not always been the most motivated person. Sure, my prior workmates will all tell you I have a good work ethic and try to do a quality job when something needs to be done. But I also never had a problem with playing video games all weekend. I might feel a little guilty, sure, but not guilty enough to do something different.
Now, I feel a sudden urgency to do the things I have always wanted to but never got around to. Not that I don’t want to have fun, oh no…. I want to make sure that little girl of mine knows how to enjoy life and live a life of balance. But I also want her to know that it is important to pursue one’s ideals. It is not enough to look at the world around you and be able to point at all of the things you don’t like about it; I truly believe that in order to engage in life, to experience life fully, and to be most at peace with yourself, you have to try to live life as you would want life to be.
If I am going to teach her the things I want her to learn, I am going to have to walk the walk before I talk the talk. I am starting this blog to address the dissonance I often feel between my thoughts and my actions. I like to think that I am a rational, forward-thinking individual and yet I often feel like a spectator in the world rather than a participant. I form strong opinions about things but sometimes wonder how educated my opinions really are. Also these strong opinions often do not match up with the way I live my life nor do I often take action to affect change in areas where I might be able to have an influence.
There are probably several reasons for this. First, I am busy living my life; I have been and still am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a student, a career-woman, a recovering alcoholic, a poet, a music-lover, a pet-owner, a housekeeper, a runner….. I could go on and on but you probably get the point, and you probably empathize. Many of us are trying to be a little bit of everything these days. Some are a little bit of everything and still manage to be movers and shakers in the world. Perhaps they are not as lazy as I am… who knows? The point is that it is difficult to know where to throw in time and effort when you are already being pulled in so many directions at once. I suspect (although I can’t be sure) that this is why many people feel strongly about certain things but never seem to DO anything about it. We are all hoping some kind of full-time activist will swoop in and take care of that for us, because we certainly don’t have time.
That piece about it being difficult to know where to throw in support is another part of the problem. There are SO many issues that I feel strongly about, want to learn more about, and want to do something about, that I often throw up my hands and think “where on earth would I start?” Choosing my battles has never been my strong suit, and in this context it is paralyzing. In psychology, there is a study-supported phenomenon in which having more choices is NOT a good thing. For instance, having the option to choose among five flavors of ice cream generally makes people happier than only having one. So more is better, right? Wrong… there is a point of diminishing returns at which more options make people less happy. Fifty flavors of ice cream can be completely paralyzing. How on earth is someone supposed to choose from that many? If a person does settle on one, it is likely that they will second guess themselves and feel buyer’s remorse, thinking how much better it might have been if they chose something else.
Lastly, there is a sense of impotence in the face of the problems of the world. Everyone has a critical voice in their head; mine can be absolutely ruthless sometimes. It is constantly telling me why I should not pursue anything worthwhile. What could I possibly do to make anything better? I am small and insignificant. My efforts will be futile. I have no original thoughts. People will LAUGH at me.
I have now outlined all the reasons (excuses) why I don’t act more in a manner that is in line with my beliefs and morals. I want to go beyond critical thinking and go into critical decision-making and critical acting. My goal within this blog is to inform my beliefs and outline all the ways I CAN act more in a manner that is in line with these beliefs. That is the purpose of this blog. Remember the fifty flavors of ice cream? My intention is to go down the line and consider each of the flavors, as it were. The nice thing about this is that I will probably never run out of things to write about and if I need to stay on one topic longer than the others I can do that.
There is a sort of format I wish to follow:
- First, I will introduce the topic that I am struggling with and state my current thoughts/beliefs on the matter and how I came to those conclusions. I will also explain what I do or (more likely) do not do to support these thoughts/beliefs.
- After that, I will research the topic to answer my own questions regarding how I really feel about it and how to act based on my beliefs. For example, how easy would it be to be proactive about supporting that belief? What are small things I could do in my day-to-day life to support that belief? After weighing the options, is this a belief that I feel I can put my energy into or is the cost to high… or is it not worth enough to me?
- Most importantly, is this a belief that I want to continue to have? I am not closed to the idea that in researching a specific topic I may find that I change my mind about it…. I am certainly not an expert in all things. I think it is very sad that in our society we so often see changing one’s mind as a sign of weakness. I get that we want our leaders to be solid, to be unwavering in their beliefs. However, it is incredibly foolish to throw out new information just because it doesn’t match one’s current beliefs. I hope I can avoid making that mistake.
- Finally, I will present and commit t a plan of action (or a plan not to take action) to support my beliefs.
It sounds terribly boring when I lay it out that way. My husband would probably say at this point that I am being a control freak about my blog. So be it. I need to be a control freak in the planning stages to be ok with moving forward. I can assure you, I am not such a control freak in many other areas of my life, as you will soon find out. I am fully prepared to break format or go off on a tangent if I feel it is necessary to get closer to achieving my goal of belief/action congruence.
I have to throw in a warning here, I was a psychology (and criminology) major when I recently finished my Bachelor’s Degree, and was simultaneously impressed and depressed by what I learned about the inner workings of the human mind; for this reason, you will see a lot of references to psychology peppered throughout this blog. I do not claim to be an expert on the subject matter, but I am certain some things that I internalized in that course of study will be highly relevant to the topics I plan to discuss.
Before I begin, I’d like to pre-emptively thank anyone who is considering accompanying me on my journey; you will keep me honest! And so, here we go…..