how to deal with being a walking paradox

Do you ever notice sides of yourself that seem at odds with one another?

I do, all the time. Part A wants to eat an entire pan of brownies. Part B wants to go on a run. Part A wants to go to that show on Tuesday that I know won't be over until 1 AM. Part B wants to kill it at work everyday and needs a full night's sleep. Part A never wants to talk to him again. Part B still can't believe he hasn't called. Part A wants to party. Part B wants to be alone.

Any of that sound familiar? It's pretty regular in this mind of mine. And it can be a little chaotic. 

So, how do I reconcile these opposing sides? Does one side eventually win over the other? Maybe, someday. But what about right now? Do I have to pick a side, and choose it forever? Stay fiercely loyal to a decision that I make right now, regardless of new information/feelings/ideas/desires I may find in the future? Do I have to hate the part of me that I didn’t choose? Beat it into submission with self-degradation and ignorance, never listening to it when it voices its wants?

Honestly, that sounds awful. It sounds dogmatic, unfulfilling, and like I’d be missing half of the story. But, the truth is that there are times when I feel like that is the right thing to do - that I must choose, because if I don’t, then I’ll be a failure and a hypocrite, now and forevermore, who will never amount to anything. And that, is a scary, and paralyzing place to be.

So, what’s another option? Maybe the paradox, these seemingly contradictory desires, are both trying to tell me something. Maybe the message is “I need balance here,” and probably not in the way I’ve been trying to attain it. Maybe it’s okay to live with these contradictions right now, and let myself explore each side of the situation. Just because I lean left once, doesn’t mean that I can’t re-center myself, lean right, then re-center again. It can be uncomfortable to hold seemingly opposing views, but I know that I’m not going to find a middle ground by turning my back on one side in favor of the other - I’m going to find it by pursuing both ends towards the middle.

For me, that means that a lot of my life right now is experimentation. It might be weird, and it might be scary, but at the end of the day, it's working. On one hand, I think it’s really cool to know who you are, and to be fiercely loyal to that self. I’m all for that. On the other hand, I think it’s okay to still be deciding who you are, and to be willing to live with the discomfort of that uncertainty, and to give yourself some time and space to figure it out. Forcing yourself to be someone or something that you think you should be isn’t really that fun. At least it’s not for me. And it’s created a lot of confusion and self-hatred, as I tried to deny parts of me that seemed in conflict with who I “should” be. The extreme sides of myself can be scary at times, and I don’t always know how to marry the two. What I do know, is that it has been my extreme sides that have saved me. When I’ve been bawling on the floor in a puddle of my own misery, pretty sure that death was the only thing that could feel better than how terrible I felt right then, it was only my extreme other that could convince me to get up, breathe, and keep going. And you know how I accessed that extreme other, who helped me up? By letting myself fully be the extreme me, on the floor, crying hopelessly. By exploring the depths of one side, the other side naturally opened. We expand to the degree that we let ourselves expand, in any given direction. In my experience, when I’m in this place of paradox, it means that there are parts of myself that I just don’t know or understand yet. And no one wants to get to know someone who's an asshole to them, right? Don't shut the door on yourself. My play is to forgive myself for my opposing views, be patient with myself, make room for mistakes and be really, really curious about why I feel the way that I do, on both sides of the spectrum. It’s fun for me to go deep within my own feelings, and I always come out with a better perspective on who I am and what I want because of it.

Maddie Wise