Contradictions in character make for interesting people in real life and stories. I sometimes feel like a walking paradox. This struck me the most scrolling through my Twitter feed to see multiple tweets by Eminem and Joel Osteen, one on top of the other. No one is more confused than the people at Twitter who have no idea who to recommend that I follow. I mean, do they suggest the latest religious gurus or gangster rappers? Ha Twitter! In the lyrics of Eminem, “they’ll never figure me out” while Joel would say that God knows everything about me and still loves me.
The thoughts, preferences and beliefs of deep people are seldom black or white. In an effort to understand others we strive to classify people into a type so we know how to relate to them; democrat or republican, stingy or generous, straight-laced or promiscuous, neat or sloppy. There is almost a pressure from society to declare what you are, one way or another. I remember John Cougar (Mellencamp, at the time) singing that you have to stand for something or you will fall for anything. It rings like a warning for us all to think hard and choose wisely. But for goodness sakes, pick a side. Those who don’t are often viewed as weak, impressionable, or not knowing their own mind.
I think this mindset is way too easy and severely limiting. While there are times when we do commit ourselves with strength and fervor to something our soul holds true, there are other things that do well in the land of shades of gray. Living there can make us more compassionate, flexible and balanced.
My inconsistencies? Here’s a few. I support abortion laws, but would never have had one myself. My IQ appears wildly different depending on my mood and whether you meet me at a party or a professional lecture. I used to regularly run for exercise and sometimes smoke. No, not at the same time. Duh! I would run ten miles, drink a lot of water, then sit down and have a cigarette. Yep, I did. I hid it because the world said I was whacked. At the time though, I enjoyed both and didn’t think I should be forced to quit one for the other. I have long since given up both addictions, one for my lungs and the other for my knees. I didn’t quit either, however, because others said I should.
We’re all on a journey to figure out the world and ourselves in the process. Our incongruent traits are what make us richly unique. This paradox personality syndrome, as I call it, is especially useful when creating fictional characters. What is it about you that doesn’t make sense? What things about you would cause quizzical looks from people if they only knew? Author Walt Whitman is quoted as saying, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large… I contain multitudes.”