In Which I Worry That I'm A Narcissist, Which Is Itself Narcissistic

In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act.
— Joan Didion, Why I Write

Image 065.jpg
Image 065-2.jpg

I've been thinking about ego lately. Maybe because I worry that I post too many photos of myself on my Instagram page, or because I'm a writer who tends to write semi-autobiographically. Also, I'm an actor, and that seems to take a certain amount of self-absorption. (I've spent the last week looking at about two hundred photos of my face trying to pick out new headshots.) See? Here I go again...talking about myself.

But all of this thinking (about myself) has led to a hypothesis: To make work in any sort of creative form requires a certain irrepressible egotism. Yet, even now as I put fingers to keys, I am held back by the anxiety that I have nothing worthwhile to say, but my deep rooted belief in my value, genius, and singularity urges me on. This conceited belief system of mine is the unavoidable product of being a precocious reader, stubbornly imaginative and internal, the first daughter of my parents and the first granddaughter of my grandparents. I have personally known many women and girls I would easily call extraordinary and special, whose viewpoints I immediately swallow as gospel. Possible Didions and Smiths each of them. And yet, to view myself as just as valuable feels like overwhelming self-absorption. My superiority complex cripples me like Jacob*, but the night is far from over....maybe it is in fact a blessing in disguise. I am compelled to push my ideas and inner stories out into the universe, as if they are worthy, and yet, I am bridled. By, what? Social proprieties that preach modesty? The fear of attempting, failing and having to rewrite a lifelong ideology of my own importance? 

 

port_self_portraits_bw_VM1954W02936-11-MC.jpg

Where would we be if any of the great artists of the past (and present) hadn't had that ego, that immovable belief that they had something important to say? Of course, for every Andy Warhol pushing their work into the world, there is also a Vivian Maier. A hidden eye documenting the world around them for no one but herself. What then was her urge to create? Simply to connect to the external? It is not just the urge to be seen, that leads me to make, it is also the desire to see. To explore, even try to momentarily inhabit, another world. If ego was all it was, I would probably do something that didn't require me to continually skin myself down to my most vulnerable self. And yet, I reread this last paragraph, and how did I start it...by talking about the "great artists," as if to say I am one? No. But yes, it's there, nonetheless. 

I will probably be wrestling with this for the rest of my life. I have no answers, really. Blame my birth chart (I'm a cancer sun, but a leo rising), but there it is. I am a confessed narcissist in an ongoing love affair with self doubt, plus a serious kink for the rest of the world.  

Clearly, I think I have something valuable to say. But here's the thing, I think you do too. Anyway, I'll leave you with this morbid tweet from last night. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 7.40.34 PM.png

*This is a weird biblical reference. Or old testament, since I'm Jewish. Genesis 32:22-31. Not saying that you didn't get it, but in case you didn't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯