Before we get started here’s your fair warming that this piece might be part one of a saga. Self awareness is hard so, should you choose to stay, bare with me.
Subconsciously, we’re all geniuses. Consciously…. Not so much
Alright I want you to think about your kidney, think about where it is in your body. Think about what it does and all the crap it has to deal with. Now, most of us have no conscious clue of where our kidneys are – but in order for our body to work, our brain has to subconsciously know where each vein and muscle and piece of tissue is. In other words our brain knows, because our brain has to keep everything working, but if our brain knows, why don’t we? If our brain knows, and we don’t, then what else are we lying to ourselves about? How much do we know, not know, and need to unlearn?
Sight, truth, and knowing
Now, think about your nose. How much of it can you see if you really try and think? Not much. But that’s a trick. Supposedly, we can see all of it, but our brain blocks it out and tricks us, because we can’t handle it. And so this got me thinking. How much of me, the way I think, the way I act, the way I scrape my teeth with my fork when I bite into food, how much of this is instinct? How much is conscious choice? And how much of who we are, is simply attributed to our “factory settings?”
Nature vs. Nurture
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That factory settings are the same as what we’re programmed with and how things change over time. And to a mild extent you’re night. But when I talk about factory settings I’m more looking at life through the scope of conscious decision making and how most of us gaslight the hell out of ourselves to negotiate what is true and what we can’t handle if that truth was true.
So as an example – is straight the base line natural setting of sexuality? Or is straightness the factory setting that we adhere to even though sexuality about is meant to be about what feels good and society is just to blame because it determined that keeping people in boxes is more digestible. In other words, there’s nature, there’s nurture, then theirs society. And while not all of us choose to 100% get in boxes and conform – some of us have to work to understand and even unlearn the factory settings that were molded into believing.
Learning and leaning away from “Factory settings”
The idea that we exist similar to that of an IPhone IOS update might strike you as odd, but taken in the context of internalized misogyny and internalized homophobia, in insecurities and the seemingly continental United States ideal that all of Africa is huts and hungry people (which it’s absolutely not) – it isn’t insane to assume that many of us have been programmed via nature and nurture alike to condemn ideals and hold tight to others. It’s no surprise that after being gaslit in our most formidable years that we continue to believe the voices that hurt and condemned us. But it is surprising how few of us dive in and do the work needed to reset and reboot ourselves because, frankly, It’s not insane to, at a certain point, question… am I doing this for me, or am I doing this to get by. Do I actually like x,y, or z or was I trained to respond to these things in these ways. And while the obvious examples are the big ideals in prejudice, like race and sexuality it’s also as simple as asking the kid in class who misbehaves, “what did you do this time” rather than, “why? Why did you do this?” It’s as simple as changing the narrative from – I endured this, so you can survive it too – to – I survived this so you wouldn’t have to… and luckily I think some aspects of our world are starting to warm to that idea, but we are definitely still very far off from making it common practice.
My point? Assumptions are dangerous. Bias is dangerous. Prejudice is and can be deadly. But there’s nothing more dangerous than settling into assumptions you’ve made about yourself because yes we all create a narrative of who we are, but we also allow others to flip the script and write it for us too and the fact of the matter is, they don’t know us like we do… then again sometimes we also allow ourselves to revert to “factory settings” and in the end, that doesn’t really benefit anyone either.
So, like I said earlier – sometimes I wish my brain had a check engine light. One that could tell me when I need servicing, when I’m out of gas, when I need an oil change or my tires rotated. (None of this is sexual innuendo so.. mind and gutter need to detach.)
Look sometimes I wish I had someone or something in my brain that could check me and tell me how much of my personality has been updated or upgraded and what is still just adhering to the factory settings. And yes I could go to therapy… but realistically and as a millennial, that’s more expensive then avo toast and frankly it’s not immediately gratifying enough.
Sometimes I just want to see my nose
Look, most of us have heard the forest through the trees argument. And all of us, knowingly or not have fallen into habits of believing what’s easy over what is right and believing what makes us fit in over what could make us truly happy. (And if you don’t believe me just find any tiktok lesbian because a lot of women figured a lot of things out in the past year and most of them aren’t in their early years.) being able to identify what you know, what you don’t know and what you need to unlearn ISNT EASY – and it’s also not concise or succinct, so I apologize.
I guess what I’m trying to say, in my own just Rachel way, is that I’m in this process of working with my settings. I’m trying to be more intentional with my actions in relationships and in friendships and in the work I do here and at the place who pays my bills. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to do the work and trust me it sucks, but it’s also really great to feel like I’m developing the kind of relationship where I can actually trust myself.
So I guess to wrap it up, for now, I’ll just say that my advice is to ask more questions. Especially when you don’t think you’ll like the answer. Because it’s about time you make conscious decisions in terms of what you want for yourself and not just what others want for you. I guess it ties in to that stuff I said about changing you to please them.
And honestly, at the end of the day, it’s just about working on what you want and resetting your expectations – because sometimes it’s not worth lying to yourself – and it’s never worth it to gaslight yourself just because it’s something you were conditioned to do.