Saturday, May 7, 2016

You Talking to Me?

Enjoy this vision of a very young Robert De Niro from the movie Taxi Driver, practicing the line that is also the heading of this post.  Now let it go, because he’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I am talking about is the importance of knowing ourselves.  “You talking to me?” Yes, maybe I am.
Too many of us strike out into the adult world without enough sense of who we are, and what we want.  Things like what we value, what we need, what we have to offer aren’t just quizzes in a Cosmo magazine: they’re the underpinnings of building a life you intended to have.
But many of us walk out of the door and just turn automatically in some direction – without much of a destination in mind. Yogi Berra famously said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”
A lot of us take a long time to figure this out. Yes, I’ve got my hand raised. If our late arrival to this understanding only affected ourselves, that wouldn’t be so bad.  But we drag a lot of people with us when we experiment and explore during our relationships. Some of this is meant to be pre-work.

Until and unless you have at least some of the core aspects of personality, preferences, and pet-peeves discovered in yourself, how can you know what you are offering to another?  And how can you possibly know what you want from a friendship or partnership with another, if you are just winging it?
What do you value? What are your strengths?  What do you want to get better at?  Where do you most easily find your connection to the Being that is your God? How important is physical appearance to you (your own, and another’s)?  What, if anything, would you be willing to change about yourself if someone wanted you to? How would you feel if someone wanted you to change to be with him or her?  Do you want to validate your upbringing by raising your kids the way you were raised? (“It was good enough for me”). Or do you want to do a 180° from how you were raised? Is saving money important to you?  What have you always wanted to do? Where have you always wanted to go? How much togetherness do you require – how much solitude? Do you yet know that what bugs you about someone else is probably at its core what troubles you about you?
This is a lifetime’s work, spending some part of every day very aware, in quiet reflection, acceptance and presence. The exploring, growing, experimenting and risk-taking, the making mistakes and engaging compassionately with yourself is never really done.  Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you have it all figured out (you never will) before you let yourself open your heart, your soul and your life to another human being.  You’ll miss half the fun!  Have a good grasp, though, of the essentials: your essentials.


  1. Yes, Carole, yes. And now you've prompted all my thoughts. Bear with me...

    Finding oneself is better undertaken before things have become convoluted; before not knowing oneself well enough has created problems. It can take a while to unravel the messes one makes (As you know, I was a fantastic mess-maker.) and right the path, to steady it enough to explore these critical questions.

    If one, for example, is so (unknowingly) starved for love that the need is blinding, it is easy to choose poorly. I have ruined a few good lives by trying to morph myself into someone else's plans for me, or by simply not realizing that I have stubbornly looked at the good in someone and ignored the "this won't ever be good for me" part. It is important, therefore, to always remove rose-colored glasses when getting to know oneself and others (who might one day be allowed "in").

    I have been fascinated with the concept of solitude for years, and have come to know that my extroverted personality does not negate the need for huge chunks of time in which I am not speaking or even considering other people. Quite the opposite, really, I have always woken up ready to ponder, write or read, but not to talk. It is important that I honor this. It is how I find my truest place, how I prepare to give what I must, and what I want to give each day.

    Finding oneself is a lifelong pursuit, I think. It is a permission-giving act of love-to ourselves certainly, but also to those to whom we want and intend to give our best.

    1. Ah, Brit (one T or 2?) it is no surprise to me that we have walked some similar roads, learned very similar lessons. Thanks for meeting me here! One thing (there are many) that has always emanated from you, whether you felt you were making a mess or not, is compassion. Your heart has always been in the right place.