Posts in bramblings
The flip side

On my shoulder, there lives a small tyrant. Self-criticism makes him happy; anxiety satiates him nicely. His name is Perfectionism and he is my tormentor.

Perfectionism makes us feel terrible— the need to have things ‘perfect’ drives us to exhaustion: we keep going past the point of being done, under the guise that ‘good enough is never good enough for me’, but this place is fed by anxiety and self-criticism, so it is never actually satisfied. Because, let’s be honest, perfectionism isn’t actually about having the things we do ‘perfect’, its about having ourselves be ‘perfect’, and no amount of Instagram filtering is going to make that happen. Perfectionism is, in a sense, trying to finish everything and capture it in time, trying to hold on to a moment, like a curl of smoke rising from ashes: clutching a feeling that comes only from having everything just right. And only then will we be worthy; only then will we be good enough.  

You’d think that, if I knew the tyrant was there, and knew where he was, I’d want to get rid of him— brush him off onto another unsuspecting person; let them fold all of their underwear and organize it by color and leave me in peace. 

But the thing is, I know that this tyrant comes from the same place as my love of beauty. The feeling that I get from crisp clean sheets, or an exquisitely punctuated sentence is incandescent. And its so innate in my personality: I could no sooner change that than I could my eye color or that I love lemons. It feels, in a way, like a higher calling: like there’s something holy about order, and that feeling of everything being in its right place makes me feel as if I, too, am in my right place. 

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On Authenticity

Authentic: noun.

Of undisputed origin; genuine.

Origin: late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin authenticus, from Greek authentikos ‘principal, genuine.’

Buzz-words. Like ‘forage’ and ‘artisanal’, and all the other words that take over our collective consciousness with a meme-like speed, these words start out meaning something. Then, because of how quickly trends spread in our current electronic age, what starts as a well-meant thought spreads to the next person, and then the next, until it seems like everybody is using it, and then it no longer has the weight it used to. It hangs there like a dead word, an empty shell of a word, and the original meaning has beat a retreat for the hills. The word and its repetitive re-use loses its authenticity. In an ironic twist of fate, ‘authentic’ has started to become a buzz word itself: meme-fied and scattered around the internet with happy looking people flinging their arms out and quotes about how to ‘be authentic’, or to ‘find your authentic self’.

I thought nothing of it until a few months ago, when an article a friend wrote was plagiarised (almost word for word) on a herbal website. We had an in-depth discussion both about the plagiarism but also that ideas don’t really happen in a vacuum, and I got to thinking about what it is that differentiates between copied content and authentic content, when so many of us herbalists have such similar goals. And also, on a deeper level, what is it that makes a person, their work, and what they contribute to the world, authentic. In this essay, I’m attempting to take a closer look and explore what authenticity truly is, why this is important, and also how we can all work towards finding it in our own work.

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