by Alexandru Ciobanu

“I think that when you’ll allow yourself to appreciate the person next to you the way they are, with good things and not so good things, then the situation will change. But now I think you’re still focusing on what that person awakens in you. You’re only looking at what you become or how you imagine yourself alongside him. He somehow disappears from the scenery as a real, material person. Any guy for you is only a sort of projection of what you become through him. But formulating it doesn’t matter. You lose yourself in pretty words. Just live, goddamn it! You don’t need so much introspection.”

Usually I can hide it better, the fact that men I date mean nothing to me on their own, as individuals, but rather they represent expedients to my own personal growth. It’s a tough notion to grapple with, especially under the watchful eye of society, but relationships are inherently selfish. It doesn’t have to ruin one’s conception of love, but perhaps it can update it.

I tweeted recently that I had the frightening thought that I’d finally found a job I think I’d be good at, Rachel’s in the show Unreal. She’s a producer on a dating competition program and is in charge of manipulating the women on the show to drum up high ratings. I say frightening because my own behavior with men would effect the act  of manipulating. It has been described as aloof and wry, with a subtle camp element to it, which, as a result, makes me ridiculously cute. Is it a performance? Everyone performs. We can go as far as to say that everyone’s conception of themselves is performative. But does awareness of that act make us be held accountable for that performativity?

Maybe I’m trying to acquit myself of being an asshole. The quoted text at the top is something my friend told me, and it doesn’t paint me in a good light, but rather in an interesting light. I find that my complete emotional devotion to someone clashes with my disregard of their individual value and it’s peculiar and an aberration. Do I view others as stepping stones to creating an idea of wholeness in myself? One that would alleviate the loneliness, indecisiveness and reignite a dead will? Probably.

“Since one does not yet feel oneself as a unity, one posits the unity of the other’s body as something one might acquire in the future; one anticipates the one day one will achieve this wholeness. The image which allows one to anticipate one’s own individuality as a conscious, unified ego is an ideal apparition, it is an ideal ego.”  – Michael Lewis on Jacques Lacan

People misunderstand me most of the time. Maybe it’s because I’m inconsistent. I seem to have created a personality based on performing certain traits for others. A person only by the grace of others. But that’s not very interesting. We all want people to like us. Yet I’m so lost in my attempts at individuality, that I become those things. I will be dramatic, I’ll exaggerate, complain about other people, expound at length on my romantic dalliances. I go on diatribes about my dislike of apples, even though there’s little conviction behind it. I fully approve of political correctness, yet completely dismiss certain social standards that are of too little significance for you to conform to. Mind you, this is based on a very elaborate thought process that I’ve never cared enough to establish. It amounts to “If you’re upset by something I said, you have bigger problems than you think”, which is a Rupaul quote that I’ll never forget.

What I say no longer has any conviction. I want excitement that’s within myself, and not produced by others. I want contentment that’s not momentary and engendered by others. What’s painful is that it feels good sometimes. Others being there to alleviate the loneliness, or as Lacan puts it in abstract and academic words, to make you think you might be an actual person like them someday. Am I veering into teenage angst territory? No, because people do understand me. They understand facets of myself that I’m willing to create in their presence. Subconsciously, most of the time, because it’s rooted in the idea of social standards that I’ve come to be attuned to over time. But what is there to understand beneath that? That’s the upgrade from teenage angst, the realization that there’s nothing to understand. There’s nothing to us but our performative aspect. Judith Butler determines that gender “operates as an interior essence that might be disclosed, an expectation that ends up producing the very phenomenon that it anticipates”.

“Certain features of the world, including people we know and lose, do become “internal” features of the self, but they are transformed through that interiorization, and that inner world, as the Kleinians call it, is constituted precisely as a consequence of the interiorizations that a psyche performs.” – Judith Butler.

How does one cope with that? How does it not invalidate your every decision, desire, ambition? Individuality is a misnomer. Perhaps there’s a need for a new criterion of self-definition to be universally implemented, one that wouldn’t be so harmful and debilitating.