“A little rough around the edges, but I keep it smooth” Janelle Monae.
Sometimes we’re hard and tough. Other times we’re soft and flexible. That’s why I like this lyric by the artist Janelle Monae. Discussing the yin and yang aspects of ourselves, parts that are often at odds with each other. Our society rewards the hard and tough persona as long as you are willing to be seen as soft and flexible. It is more difficult to operate as soft and flexible simply because the people we interact with are not expecting it and may see it as a sign of aggression. How can vulnerability and availability be aggressive?
Possibly these two characteristics describe someone who is open and receptive which opposes a secretive nature that relies on the absence of information. As individuals, we are taught to play a “game of life” rather than “live our life”. The performance of a player of the game gives the impression that you are well versed in how to navigate this society. It supposes that the impression is enough, even if the means are lacking. It is likely that the means to create the vision of ones life (in a capitalistic system) will make itself available through continued determination. However, as a player, you may forget who you are at the core. Swapping authenticity for an image of what could be.
But, what is is the most important. Where you are at in the here and now can be as revealing and pivotal as memories of winning a tournament or successfully completing a class as a youth. The story we tell ourselves of who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to achieve that can be limiting. We can see certain experiences as obstacles or negative events when in actuality they are just not what we expect. They may not illicit the outcome we expect, but they also may not impede our ultimate goal.
Wavering between soft and rough in a world that requires callouses can be confusing. We tend towards needing validation from so many outside sources that the only way to see oneself is through the computation of others. There are too many variables for us to rely on outside forces to communicate whether we are correct in our choices. These are choices that are right for ourselves and for the benefit of our overall wellbeing. Based in doing no harm, we would belie ourselves more in upholding a false impression than reflecting our true selves.
Realizing that we are moving through the world instead of the world moving through us places the onus on the individual to participate in their own life. This participation requires that we bump up against uncomfortable moments, but these moments do not define the entirety of what we set out to achieve. They inform us. They are information that should only guide us, not hinder and prevent. So move through the world. Do what appears to disrupt the disquietude and spend time being a little rough around the edges, but keep it smooth.