This is a trend that I have seen with a number of my peers and after reading a friend’s post I feel compelled to air my opinion.
Reinvention, the passion test, the need to recreate who you are, to me, is a tenuous grasp on money-making schemes telling people that in order to be better they must first adopt a certain mantra, read xyz book, attend a course and so on. This of course pulls on the desires of the middle class: Don’t you want to be happier? Don’t you want to be better? Following this program will change you life. Before you write me off as a cynic let me finish; I’m not saying that self-growth isn’t possible from reading different points of view, I wholly believe it is. I take issue with the concept of ‘reinvention’, to me they seem like a diet for the soul.
I have found that reinvention is not about self growth, it’s about creating yourself into an entirely new person without fully understanding what you were in the past. The people I have encountered who do this are a bit wild, gleefully hanging onto the belief that by following this book in 60 days the parts of their past, the parts of themselves they cannot love will have disappeared and they will be walking around with a new persona. They are like fad-dieters really, counting mantras and expressions of self like counting calories waiting for the moment they become ‘a healthy soul’. I shake my head in disappointment. Most of these fads don’t allow for true introspection, only that the right path is to adopt the book/writers/trend, if these books taught true introspection they wouldn’t be able to sell a sequel (I might these people usually have no psychological or social/therapeutic training).
It doesn’t work. Why? For the same reason fad diets don’t work, you cannot be told exactly what to think everyday for the rest of your life anymore then you can be told what to eat, when and how much. There will be a family dinner in which there will be no skinless, boneless chicken breast and likely a relative whom you dislike. There will be an office party, there will be a social situation with an ex. In all these situations your natural responses and feelings will emerge and the book will possibly not have a tried and true response for it. What will you do? The book says the fad says the anger is wrong, negativity is wrong, wanting to eat for emotional pleasure is wrong, etc, etc, etc.
What is the fad telling you to feel? Shame and guilt. It is trying to teach you that your feelings, yourself is wrong. Our pop culture makes billions of dollars tapping into people’s shame, guilt and greed.
True self-growth takes time, effort and slow but real changes. It is not about reinvention but awakening, gentle nurturing of the self and the occasional self-kick in the butt to see that you do have flaws but as a person you aren’t flawed. That sometimes facing ourselves is challenging but it is where the changes occur. I will apply my example to practicing an instrument. Reading a book about the concepts of practice, the colours of music and how I can change my attitude to practicing is all well and good, but if I don’t pick up the instrument and put in some serious hours of practice I’ll never achieve results. Also when I do pick up the instrument if I fall too far one way or the other; hearing only what I play well or what I only play poorly I am deluding myself in grandeur or self-loathing; neither of which is healthy. I must listen to myself, practice diligently, praise my efforts and strive for my smaller goals each day. This is growth.
I have found people bent on ‘reinvention’ have a tendency to try to bury a part of themselves they don’t like, believing that who they are at the moment isn’t worthy of the world. This is unacceptable, we are all born worthy. I hope that my peers can move past these trends and expectations because it is sad to see people you care about bury themselves in the shame of failure and have guilt for being who they are.