Authenticity, Imposter Syndrome, and Enjoying Things

I think about other people a lot. Not any specific individuals, not even groups, just the vague amorphous reactions of "others" if I talked about certain things. I think about how they will form opinions of me, but more often than not I'm thinking about it in an even more meta context. Am I enjoying things authentically, or just enjoying them because I think other people will like them?

The first time I came into contact with this idea was when I became a fan of contemporary art and minimalist art, specifically the works of Cy Twombly, Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Carl Andre. I heard people deriding it as something that people like just to seem smart, and since I was at a very self-conscious point in my life, I haven't really been able to shake that.

I was re-watching the hilarious video of Zizek talking about putting a plastic dildo into a plastic vagina to satisfy the superego and just get on with a date, and he said something at the beginning I forgot about. "Even when we are alone, we are to some extent preforming 'ourselves'". He reads this as a good thing, believing that people are by and large monsters (somewhat humorously); I on the other hand, have a harder time grappling with it.

It isn't necessarily that I want to portray a completely honest version of myself at all times, or that authenticity is something I look for in everything I engage with. However, I have had periods of my life where I was dishonest about the character of myself in order to satisfy what I thought was a deficit in my personality. This is something I have been able to by and large move on from, but I'm always thinking about it. In moments of particular self-doubt or self-loathing, I have a way to deride anything I enjoy. I am reading this polished New York Times bestseller to appear smarter, I am reading this zine to feel punk, I am listening to underground music because I want to be indie. None of these things characterize me to myself, but they are thoughts that I grapple with frequently, and I am guessing I'm not alone in this.

I hear a lot of people refer to things as guilty pleasures, particularly in the context of media, and it is something I have deliberately tried to separate myself from, because I don't want to qualify the things I enjoy in order to express things about them to someone else. I feel like instead of unlearning this concept, I moved the conversation completely internally, and it is something I have to grapple with every day. I want to move on from it, because at times it legitimately hampers my enjoyment of things, and I want to stop living for others and start truly living for myself when it comes to my tastes and enjoyment.

This is going to be one of two articles I write about imposter syndrome and anxieties I have around aspects of my life, and I will go in greater depth on how I feel in the other one. I mostly wanted to just fire this off so that I could put these thoughts into words, because it has cluttered my mind for the last week or two. If anything here resonated with you, or you have some advice, feel free to reach out to me on masto or through any other methods of communication. Anyway, I hope you have a good day.

Links:

that zizek talk => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xYO-VMZUGo

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