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What on earth did she mean by this?

(196 Posts)

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Sashamasha Wed 05-Oct-16 10:36:53

Last Saturday night me and my husband had some friends over for dinner just a few other couples. One couple was a friend of my husband and his wife. She is about my age (36) and although I have seen met her several times and seen her about I've never really spoken to her before and always got the impression she was a bit shy.

Anyway after dinner some of us got talking in the kitchen just about how at our age you finally start to grow up, that you get a much stronger, more solid idea of who you are and your values and that you just really know yourself and have a handle on the world. She wasn't really saying much although she was listening.

Trying to bring her out her shell I asked her very directly what her what her opinion on the topic was and although I can't remember it word for word she basically said something like the concept of being a grown up and having some sort of control was a comfort but that as humans we are all just needs, urges and want and that any understanding we had of ourselves or the world was fleeting and incomplete. She also said she felt that thinking of yourself as some how solid, defined and in control was to be in denial of what we are and a kind of self deception although she then said that self deception was probably a necessary evil.

Well there wasn't very much left to be said after that! She sounds a bit gloomy but she isn't she is very sweet but just never says much and seems to be a bit of a loner (she's an artist). Anyway I can't get what she said out of my mind, I feel a bit disturbed by it and if I am honest I don't really understand it.

So anyone have any idea of what she was on about?

DollyBarton Wed 05-Oct-16 10:39:14

I think it's a fascinating point of view from her. I wouldn't necessarily agree though!

NavyandWhite Wed 05-Oct-16 10:39:55

Wow that's deep. Obviously a thinker.

Is she a "free spirit" type?

LineyReborn Wed 05-Oct-16 10:41:04

You remembered all that?! I'm impressed.

insancerre Wed 05-Oct-16 10:41:29

Well, she is right, isn't she?
We are never fully formed and defined and in control
We might think we are, but we are always changing and learning from experiences and being shaped by the world around us
Much the same as we do when we are children

Sashamasha Wed 05-Oct-16 10:42:51

It does facinate me and in many ways she is the most in control person I've ever met doesn't drink, has the disapline to do a totally self directed job, vegetarian, yoga practicing etc.

I'm just struggling to get my head round what she meant, if she were a booze hound or lived a chaotic life I could perhaps see what she was saying.

mrschatty Wed 05-Oct-16 10:42:52

That's really interesting... I think she means we are basically animals and we may suppress the animal instincts and live the "socialised civilised" ideal but those impulses still survive.

Jackie0 Wed 05-Oct-16 10:44:07

I'd like her, she's smart and interesting

Sashamasha Wed 05-Oct-16 10:44:30

I remeber it because its been on my mind for days now and that isn't exactly what she said, it sounded much better than what I have written.

She's an artist, no kids so yes a bit of a free spirit.

ShowMeTheElf Wed 05-Oct-16 10:45:50

It means the same as 'true wisdom is knowing how little you know'.
So rather then realising you are a grown up and know yourself, true wisdom would be acknowledging that you know only a fraction of yourself. For most people, though, that would be too unsettling, so most of us do develop a degree of certainty for our own comfort/mental well being.
The development of self-awareness (that feeling of knowing) has been acknowledged as one of the tenets of positive mental health which is why it's such a well-researched field. It sounds as if your guest has chosen a more intangible path.
Do not discuss modern medicine with her! (search Storm, Tim Minchin)

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 05-Oct-16 10:45:56

I think she's probably right. It's not a comforting opinion, which is probably why she didn't contribute it until forced, but it's an insightful one.

ageingrunner Wed 05-Oct-16 10:46:03

I agree with her really. That point of view doesn't mean that it's not possible to enjoy life or to try and make your immediate environment pleasant, or to try and live a "good" life. Ultimately though any illusion of control we have is just an illusion and we could all be wiped out by a meteorite tomorrow smile wink

Thefitfatty Wed 05-Oct-16 10:46:03

What insancerre said.

We're really the product of our environments and what external and internal forces are happening in and around us at all times, so "knowing" yourself, or feeling "in control" is only how we feel in the absence of crisis or conflict.

I "know" myself now, but something major could happen tomorrow that would shake that "knowing" and make me unsure again.

CatNip2 Wed 05-Oct-16 10:46:27

I think she contributed greatly to the conversation, she sounds a little bit different, but that's good. I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep over what she said, she sounds quite an interesting person beneath her shy exterior.

Mynestisfullofempty Wed 05-Oct-16 10:46:58

I think that what she said is one of the most thought-provoking things I've read or heard in a long time.

wigglybeezer Wed 05-Oct-16 10:47:26

I am an artist, a bit introverted and prone to thinking deeply about things that others skim over, it can be a right pain, I regularly stop a conversation in its tracks ( or I did before I trained myself in small talk). I wouldn't have had a problem with what she said but would probably have tried to make a light hearted response to diffuse the situation.

Soyouare2faced Wed 05-Oct-16 10:48:02

Couldn't agree more, my DP has views like this and would not normally share in a group as sometimes some people down understand or can not get their head around views that are not 'run of the mill'

BorpBorpBorp Wed 05-Oct-16 10:48:14

There is no 'self' as a single complete entity - we are a fuzzy-edged ever changing jumble of memories, sense impressions, physicality and relationships. An idea of growing up that entails a sense of arriving at a final point of some finished 'you' is fallatious - you don't become a single final entity, you are always changing. But the idea of a definite self is useful in enabling us to interact with the world - we all like to think of ourselves that way, just like it's useful to think of our body as a single discrete physical thing, but actually we're losing cells and generating new ones all the time.

Soyouare2faced Wed 05-Oct-16 10:48:15

Don't now down

ElsaAintAsColdAsMe Wed 05-Oct-16 10:48:21

I agree with her.

We get put into different scenarios all the time and you can't plan how you will feel or react.

You see threads on here all the time about news stories or tragedies where the posters say 'I would have done.....' or 'That wouldn't happen to me because.....' they say it to comfort and reassure themselves that they are in control, when, in reality they haven't got a clue.

I thought I knew myself well in my teens, twenties, thirties and now I'm edging towards 40 and realise that things change, and sometimes my opinions and thoughts change to fit around them too.

Soyouare2faced Wed 05-Oct-16 10:48:24

Not ffs

Thefitfatty Wed 05-Oct-16 10:49:03

in many ways she is the most in control person I've ever met doesn't drink, has the disapline to do a totally self directed job, vegetarian, yoga practicing etc.

Interesting that you think those things mean she's in control. Some of the most lost/chaotic people I know have fit that description, they are always searching for other things to give their life meaning, or succumbing to social pressure of what's "good" or "bad".

BorpBorpBorp Wed 05-Oct-16 10:49:14

You might find Julian Baggini interesting, OP

GetAHaircutCarl Wed 05-Oct-16 10:50:24

I'm a writer and one of my basic themes (that I return to in every book and script) is identity; how much we are in control of our own identities/destinies and how much is bound up in our childhoods/personalities/general flotsam of life.

I find the fundemenatl question of life really.

nicebitofsodaandjam Wed 05-Oct-16 10:50:49

I think she's pretty much right tbh! I have similar existentialist angst about the ultimate futility of life, but I am still pretty happily engaged with all of our human constructs. Like 'LIFE. IS CHAOS, WE ARE BUT ANTS SCRATCHING IN THE DIRT etc' and then 'ooh, those are nice shoes'. I think you have to be or you'd go mad on a lonely mountain etc.

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