When I became a cartoon...
At one point in my life I had a friend who carelessly admitted to me that she thought that I was like a cartoon character both in appearance and action. Now, I am not quite sure if you understand the ramifications of such a statement. For me, it seemed to throw my life into disarray. Young girls and boys (I must’ve been maybe 13 or 14 at the time) are, I’m sure you remember, often unsure of themselves as so much of their character is formed and transformed by an internal dialogue shaped in large part by social interactions - especially those with the opposite sex.
Like the vestibular system, the interior dialogue that the pre-teen has with him or herself helps maintain social balance and forward momentum. If the system is pulled or pushed too far, the result in a sort of destabilization and, more often than not, the need to grab onto something. Quick.
I never seemed to be able to properly stabilize myself and, instead, I think I sort of began to embrace the notion that I was in fact a cartoon.
What does that mean? On the surface, I guess, it is a simple adaptive measure developed in part from the fact that, like my gen-x peers, I’ve watched way too much television. But how convenient it is to daydream like Ralph Phillips. Or simply be my default character, that goofy vulture from Bugs Bunny. (I am convinced that that is how I must be perceived most of the time)
I am not divulging this to elicit sympathy or pity but it has become a bit problematic. I look at my peers who can command a classroom. I see the years of training, the intellectual fire, and, most importantly, a well-crafted reputation being built before my eyes. Then I go to speak and facilitate and do all the things an instructor or mentor is supposed to do and in the back of my mind there is that damn singing frog who only performs in private - never at the pivotal moment. That’s me.
I don’t know what to do. I am embarrassed to admit that this is becoming more of an existential crisis at this point. Why can’t I escape my own mental model of myself?
The immaturity involved in sustaining such idiocy is staggering. Yet I am fully cognizant of my own role in this game. While I am convinced that everyone struggles to upright themselves after the vicious push and pull of adolescence, I still wonder if others, out there, circumscribe themselves so narrowly through the media they consumed.
I guess I will go along with it until I can find an alternative mental model. In the meantime, there is always the mid-century cartoon renaissance to keep me stabilized.