Am I A Fraud?
If I eat a cookie knowing it was made with eggs, am I a fraud?
If I don’t smile at every person I pass, am I a fraud?
If I opt for a motel over camping, am I a fraud?
If I skip a day of meditation, am I a fraud?
If I stray from my declarations, am I a fraud?
A series of questions I continue to ask myself in an effort to evaluate my alignment and my impact.
In the past several years, I’ve made commitments and turned them into declarations. These public declarations include sobriety, veganism, meditation and the prioritization of sleep. Commitments not enforced by law, however when I stray from them I feel shame as if I were a fraud. By definition, a fraud is a person or thing intended to deceive others. A far distance from straying once every few months. And this fear from being a fraud isn’t driven by the pursuit of perfection either, good enough is often my operating state. I forgive myself. I am human.
But as I pedal and sink into these moments of shame, I spend time exploring where this feeling of being a fraud comes from. I begin with an acknowledgment that every action is a choice. Sobriety, veganism, meditation, sleep, are all choices, and they can be difficult to maintain on a daily basis. Daily basis, a frequency that is also a choice. And if I control the action of choice, being the ultimate chooser, then I am also the enforcer. A recipe for disappointment. The knowledge of the intimate details of the decision-making process that lead to the choice of straying from a commitment results in disappointment with myself.
But disappointment in the self is a secret emotion. My feeling of being a fraud is a response to a feeling that my actions have altered the perception of who I am through the eyes of another. As if my character has been called into question.
I’ve started to feel that our declarations are no longer statements to celebrate, rather they are invitations for criticism. Opportunities for disproving not debate. Opportunities for others to dismiss our convictions at the first instance of distance.
If I’m seen eating said cookie made with eggs, my commitment to being plant-based is undermined.
Why is the default response not compassion, knowing I must be in pain that I was not able to remain disciplined and control my sugar addiction?
When we stray from our declarations it’s an invitation to attack the integrity of another. It shouldn’t be.
We’ve matured in competitive environments, consumed media that glorifies the benchmarks of what we are not, and engage on platforms with content curated to be the highlights of our lives. We’ve lost the raw intimacy of existing as humans, together.
A friends declaration should be celebrated, for that individual is being bold enough to share with you their personal goal for betterment.
Their intention for publicizing it may be outside accountability, a tribute to speaking something into existence, or, like me, they’ve trusted their ego that their experience and their current direction isn’t unique. That another may find an alliance in their courageous declaration.
We’re far more harmonious than we’ve allowed ourselves to believe, and our intentions are more altruistic as well. The individual making the declaration is not doing so in an effort to canonize themselves, and the individual criticizing they who stray does not have malicious intent.
As I believe those words, it’s appropriate to share my intention.
I begin with an acknowledgment that every action is a choice. Sobriety, veganism, meditation, sleep, are all choices, and they can be difficult to maintain on a daily basis. Daily basis, a frequency that is also a choice. And if I control the action of choice, being the ultimate chooser, then I am also the enforcer. A recipe for disappointment. I do not seek accountability, but I do seek connection. From private messages and group conversations, I know the experience of life I have had is not exclusive to me and my hope is that one can find an affiliation with the public journey I am sharing.
And when I do stray from the declarations I’ve made, if it doesn’t make me a fraud, then what does it make me?
A peer committed to their personal growth.
A friend that uses those moments of contradiction to expose where they might invest themselves next.
But not a fraud.
You reading this means so much.
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