Being true to yourself is all the rage. It comes in flying colours, golds and bronzes caught in the midday sun as we fall, endlessly fall, towards a shimmering, unreal ground below. There will always be a parachute if we need it, there will always be a way to turn our falling into flying, if only we will be ourselves.
And if we fall? Then we will get up again. There is no giant splat and short-lived moment of realisation; there is only the fantastical idea that we can stand up each time, climb out of the cartoon hole we made and still be ourselves.
Being ourselves is an end unto itself, quite divorced from the reality of paying bills and dealing with the mother-in-law. It is the moment between seeing what we want and getting it, stretched out into a mind-blowing contortion of light separated into all its colours. There is no mediocre in Being Yourself, there must be only greatness.
It is a kind of bullying, then, to be told to Be Yourself. We must excel and to truly excel, we must latch on to that elusive inner Us. No matter how much money you make, or the sheer, gut-wrenching sacrifices you submit to in every loving day - none of that is important next to Being Yourself.
Sometimes you can really achieve it, too. There are people living the dream who always knew what they wanted and let nothing stand in their way. Oh joy to be told of them while you are cleaning out the cat litter tray or going to Tesco for the third time this week. The inspiration we are meant to glean from the absolute success of others is mollified by the very real difficulty of living a normal life.
The trick we have to learn is to be ourselves all the time, while being everything else too. Learning to live the dream while living undreamlike lives is the key to proper happiness. If we could truly live the dream, with sparkles and fairy dust and a castle, would we be happy? Maybe, but it would be a strange life, cut off from all the things we used to do.
Try instead to keep the dream with you and see what can be done. Let's be a little mediocre about it. Let's pretend that we are not superhuman but merely ourselves and that the dream, also being part of us, can be a little super and a little human at the same time. Keep it close and nurture it.
Do not listen to those easy tales of loosely-gained dreams without keeping a pinch of salt handy. Everyone tries a bit, even if it does sound easy. Everyone gives up something along the way, even if they have to look back to see it. Take some wisdom with you for when you need to listen to this kind of thing, and still...
Do live the dream and try to be yourself as often as you can. All the yucky parts of life are so much easier if you are already yourself and not also struggling to be someone else. Be boring, if you like, be obsessive and bad in the mornings, stay up late and grouch when you go to work, get stuck in traffic and forget the peas on that third visit to Tesco.
Be normal and still dream. That way you get to be yourself and be happy about it at the same time. And look forward to the times in between all of it because that's where the dreams live.
And monsters too, but that's another story.
© Amanda J Harrington 2016