Continuum of Selves

I’m aware, as I make loose plans for my post-pandemic lifestyle, that I’m making these plans as a pandemic-immersed version of myself.

This is both exceedingly obvious and deceptively easy to forget as I make these plans.

The me of today has been in lockdown for over a year, has been short on socializing and novelty and physical contact, and has been situationally locked into habits based on the same fundamental variables for a very long time.

This version of myself, then, is looking at the world from a very distinct angle; an angle that may or may not be representative of who I am a year from now, or ever six months—it’s hard to say what changes we’ll see in the next week, much less the next half-year.

As such, although I can do my best to predict my future priorities and desires based on where they are, today, I’ll almost certainly be at least a bit off on my approximation.

There’s no single, correct way of coping with this uncertainty.

Building too-solid structures can lock us into paths that may no longer be relevant or desirable to future versions of ourselves, but failing to build any infrastructure, while liberating in a sense, can render us rudderless and leave us lacking in satisfying, secure root systems.

I personally find that a familiarity with failure, a well-honed capacity to break and reshape one’s own expectations, and a trained tolerance—if not taste—for uncertainty, can help one build sturdy structures even while maintaining a malleable definition of “success,” so that changing paths or postures doesn’t smack of unreliability or weakness.

There’s no wrong way to cope with this moment and all the moments that will come after. But it is possible to view oneself as a continuum of selves, and to adjust one’s expectations, perceptual frameworks, and plan-making process accordingly.

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