I read the second chapter in Walking in This World, by Julia Cameron of The Artist's Way fame. Just so you know, I still haven't started the walking, but it's been very interesting reading. This chapter is about the personal identity of the artist. As artists, we know we are creative and some of us get that mirroring to know how creative we are. Most of us get that worried feeling from the people around us, that we better know what we're doing so we're not starving artists in the future. Better to have something stable to fall back on just in case we fail. Thanks alot.
As I read along, I came to a paragraph about friends helping to reinforce our mirror of who we are. This resonated with me not only as an artist, but on a universal human level. The thing about having the wrong people as our mirror is that sometimes those friends reinforce the person that they see, not who we see. Those people want us to be something that isn't "threatening to them, that gives them a sense of their own size and importance." They are "used to their relationship with you in a certain way." When we grow larger into ourselves to who we really are, it's scary for the other people to see it happening. The book didn't call this competition, but I would.
The concept just shows you how people around you can be jealous of your growth and they let you know it by their actions. When I read this paragraph things clicked in my head. I've had this happen to me and it's happening to someone very close to me at this moment. People are uncomfortable when you grow and change into something they didn't think you could be. It's confusing and threatens their own existence. Cameron writes that these friends, and they're not friends if they do this stuff, want to downsize us to what we once were before. If we're intimidated by these "friends" we might shrink back down to a size suitable to them. Problem is we aren't small and compact anymore. It's not going to happen and that causes friction. Suddenly, they say we've got a swelled head. We're too big for our own self now, to them. They are unable and unwilling to mirror back to us who we know we've become.
Have you ever done something or learned something you think is amazing and your friend, or a family member, or even a colleague, tells you, "What are you doing that for? That's not how it is!" How disheartening is that? Brings you down to size, doesn't it? But that's how people are, like a distorted fun house mirror. You know who you are and when you face that mirror you don't recognize yourself.
Rather than allow that distorted mirror to shape our new size back down, we need to find new mirrors, new friends who can see and recognize, and support this new being. The question is how? Can they be fixed? If you can't fix them, can't avoid them, can't change them, what do you do? Cut and run, or stand your ground?
All human beings are supposed to change and grow into who we are meant to be, regardless of what others want us to be. Cameron writes that we can play small, humble and modest, but we will never be comfortable with "yesterday's definition of ourselves." If the Universe wants us to expand and grow, why not cooperate? Those people who resist that new identity can never stop it, and they know it.