It’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to be inconsistent.
Look. When you’re a human being, sometimes things can be a little bit complicated, wouldn’t you agree? You can, for instance, like a nicely cooked Eggplant Parmigiana, but be a total NON FAN of grilled eggplant. You can like sunny rooms but insist on darkened spaces a lot of the time. You can absolutely adore staying home but really thrive on going out. You can be ultra-shy, but 100% buoyed by the aftermath of meeting new people. You can hate milk, but love ice cream. You can hate football but love Friday Night Lights. People are complex.
You can endeavour to be a vegetarian, but sometimes not be. You can try to run every day, but sometimes stay in bed instead. You can vow to not eat bread and then eat a sandwich. People are trying their best.
And that’s if you are just a regular-yet-excellent human.
If you are an online writer, like me, you are pretty much a switcheroo/slip-up-eroo machine. Granted, I am really a super-consistent and conscientious type gal, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t fall prey to the old chop and change/whoops manoeuvre. And I think lots of other online writers might be a little bit the same.
For one thing, when you are writing publicly online a lot. Writing almost daily. Over many years, your work will easily betray – in black and white – any shifts in taste, attitude or morals. Someone can easily cast their mind (and mouse) back to a time when I was eschewing the worth of… um… oh I don’t know… CAKE. (NB – I would never do that, this is just an EXAMPLE.) THEN, they could click forward through my archives to years later and note that there are several very delicious cake recipes on my blog. Cakes that I’ve not only cooked, but cakes that I have eaten. Ye gads! The type of cake that I once (hypothetically) rejected. Ermagherd! And just like that I am a CAKE CHEAT. There is proof. I am a person to be viewed with suspicion. Gasp!
Okay. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I am fairly sure that no one is viewing me with suspicion. What I’m trying to point out is that you can like things one day – and decide to distance yourself from them another day – due to a variety of reasons: new experiences, much pondering, changing circumstances, flagging willpower (!) That’s okay. That’s human. That’s actually a pretty good thing. That does not make you untrusty. Or a Cake Cheat. I don’t think…
These shifts are very often pointed out as something that devalues the person who’s shifting. A thriving culture of cynicism and shaming even has SOME people vigilantly on the look out for these shifts/misses – in the online world and offline too. We want to protect ourselves.
We’re pretty tuned-in to the prospect of being spun to and we might see these shifts or changes in direction as a sign of manipulation or fakery. Sometimes they are JUST that, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the time I think these shifts, this chopping and changing, these inconsistencies that people display are more about working out who they are and allowing themselves to adapt and learn. And in my mind, those are good things.
In our quest to ‘know people’ and protect ourselves, we can be too quick to spot these (often little) perceived ‘failings’ or ‘slip ups’ – and assume that they are red flags in the trusty, authentic, good person stakes.
Very often, I think these inconsistencies are just robust, necessary signs of life. Signs of people growing, trying on different things for size until the fit is right, moving on when things get snug or lose their shape.
It’d be cool if we were more encouraging (and forgiving) of life’s little (and big) switcheroos and changing fits, instead of labelling them as disingenuous (without losing our perspective or eschewing compassionate critical thinking.) Don’t you think?!
It’d be great if we could see personal inconsistencies as the complicated, shifty, meaningful, valuable adjustments that they (very often) are.
I’m going to try to do that more and work to think about the real motivation behind such shifts. (As opposed to pointing and shouting ‘CAKE CHEAT!’)
PS: I like butter on Vegemite toast. But not on honey, jam or peanut butter toast.