Wow. This quote is so relieving and yet so daunting at the same time. For me, it’s like finally having the baby I’d been carrying around for so long in my uterus; it’s so great to know that once I had the baby, there would be room in my stomach for more Cap’n Crunch.
Welcome to Day 12 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.
If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.
Here is today’s quote:
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
― C.G. Jung
I will be working on Evernote for the duration of my vacation, so I will have no clue as to my word count, but I’ve been at this long enough now where I get a sense of when to stop.
Here we go:
It’s an affirming quote for me because it means that we can be ok with taking a long time to figure out life; figure out who we are versus who we should be (per external influences) and then take all that data and cull, massage and use it to become who we feel we most comfortably are.
It also means that if you are a total jerk now, that you still have time to screw up more peoples’ lives before you’re done.
As a human, this gives me hope. I can continue to do my best, stay as aware as possible and keep at it.
As a “writer” I am getting better with that. I’ve been at the blogging thing for almost two years. I’ve now posted daily for twelve days. I’ve written something every day, I just don’t share it.
As far as today is concerned: I am almost done, almost, shedding my concerns for the outside world’s appreciation and attention. I don’t mean that to suggest that I don’t need anyone or their counsel or their praise: I absolutely do and I work hard to be mindful of that. What I mean is that it’s not my life’s goal anymore to have success the way other people would define it. The definition and utility of “success” have to feel right to me.
The privilege…. to be come who you truly are.
It is a privilege, isn’t it? It’s not an entitlement. We don’t get to run around like circus toddlers for our entire lives and expect to get away with it: no accountability, no consideration for others, no dignity and call that self-actualization. Sure, it could be authentic: we are doing what we want.
Uh-oh. I sense a Vulcan mind meld coming on.
Wait. Goodreads used the tag, “Authenticity” — that’s not mine. I just borrowed it.
“Honest officer, I just saw that sack of crisp unmarked 20s lying there… that Porsche? It had the keys in it at the 7-Eleven…”
If we strive (aha) for authenticity, aren’t we doing something … calculated? Aren’t we being inauthentic? Aren’t we becoming a False Self?
What if being authentic means I take the Porsche because I want the Porsche? What if being authentic and becoming “who [I] truly [am]” means I just honor my id (my inner infant / toddler) and just do whatever the hell I want?
That’s not taking a lifetime. That’s taking … oh, four two years.
We learn at three to say “please” and “thank you.” These are conventions we employ to get by in a civilized world. What if The Almighty Creator, God, didn’t intend for us to be polite? What if I wanted to get in my VW Mini Bus, man, and fight the power? What if to me, being polite is simply another form of repression?
What if Jung had it all wrong — or rather that the conventional expectation that we ‘go back to being our higher selves’ (energy and light) means that we do what we feel like doing simply because we are… staying who we truly are?!
My brain hurts. Yours? Advil.
Energy and light. If you watch any documentary on how the universe was created, you come quite easily to the very swift conclusion that that creation is some seriously violent shit. But what comes of it, that universe, is beauty, eh? (Sorry, I’ve been talking like the amazing locals here in Canada, eh, and it’s bound to seep into my writing…)
Toddlers are mean. They steal crayons; they complain; they push and punch and bite and pinch; they take what they want; and they say what they want. But then I wonder: how much of that is mimicked behavior? How much of what we don’t like in others do we model in ourselves simply because we figure they get away with it so why shouldn’t we try it? How much of our own behavior that we observe which repels us do we try to change? It’s like Peter Pan to me… sometimes I just don’t want to grow up; being an adult is hard.
Man, it’s every day I see something in myself that I wish I could take back. But as the saying goes, “you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube.” So I pause; I replay the incident, I own what I screwed up and I apologize. Every day I apologize for some form of harmful, unconscious behavior. I would imagine that if I could talk to Jung about this particular quote that I would also add, “and grow from our apologies” somewhere in the phrase. I’ll just go find his grave and leave him some post-its. And a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.
But I don’t want to argue with Jung. I get the sense of whaat he’s talkin’ aboot: our elevated selves. The selves of us who prefer peace, who prefer love and kindness and the elevated selves of us who embody and consciously enact those virtues and graces and don’t hoard the Cap’n Crunch from our children.
Indeed. It is a privilege of a lifetime to become who we truly are: our elevated, kinder and loving selves. It can be one of our finest endeavors. Every day we give ourselves a pat on the back, and every day we extend that pat on the back to another person and every day we thank whomever or whatever we owe our gratitude is one day closer to that fantastic potential.
ps – the water came back on around 2pm. Canadian engineering is as awesome as Canadians.
I think that once we’re done being selfish and find that balance of self and service, is when it’s truly a privilege to be a human being. There are so many people who’s aim is to help others, help anyone; but they can barely help themselves. And then there are those that have several tools at their disposal to help others and yet remain focused entirely on a self pleasure principle. There’s such beauty in the balance: a la the creation reference you gave. To be okay with who you are, to know know who you are EVEN if who you are is a dichotomous mess of adult and child is so freeing. And once its realized, it paves the way for action both in bettering the self and bettering each other.
Wonderful post (life is interfering and I got a little behind)!
I read this quote as about taking risks. Like doing the things you enjoy or love. Saying what you really think even when it isn’t popular. Loving people without fear. Of course, so many things come back to fear for me because that is something I know holds me back again and again so maybe that’s why I see it this way. Great post and also, you remind me not to take these quotes so literally.
P.S. I wrote about Peter Pan on my blog today. I was surprised to see you mentioned him too! ha!