Acting As If: How to have your cake and eat it too, or: What to do when your secrets are out…

Most things in life are complicated. Like this being open to life’s challenges thing. I get it – to be open to new experiences is a good thing. Novelty is the antidote to boredom=unhappiness.

But being open about me and what’s going on with me is another kettle of fish altogether: People might not approve, some people might be interested or might offer suggestions, they might even care, but they might also realise that I’m not perfect. Ooh, and we wouldn’t want THAT, now would we?

But being open about my struggle with weight and my desire to do a PhD – that I think was not such a good idea.

I managed to lose 6 kg when nobody knew I was Weight Watching. Since I’ve come out of the weight closet: nada, nil, nothing. Gain some, lose some, but in effect staying the same. Previously I could eat my cake and just count the points. Or I could say, “No thank you, I ate too much already”. No big issue. Now, because I know people know I’m on Weight Watchers, I think they’re judging me and therefore I judge myself because I dare eat cake. Now, when I don’t want cake, I find myself explaining: I’m on a diet, I’m weighing soon, etc.

I’ve been working steadily towards the PhD goal since 2009. And I did encounter obstacles in the process before “being open” about it. (After a year’s work I got a nice topic, only to find that somebody else has already registered it and had a head start of 3 years.) It threw me for a loop, but it didn’t matter quite as much, because it wasn’t public knowledge and most people learned about it after the fact. Now, people regularly ask me how it’s going, which is nice, because I’m not as isolated anymore, but also terrifying, because you don’t have anything new to tell them since the previous time they asked… I’m suddenly much more aware of my half-a-step-forward, two-steps-back routine.

 I think in certain aspects, I operate best in secret mode. But as the “secrets” are already out, I’m going to engage in Acting As If (something I learned from Joyce Brothers in Positive Plus – the practical plan for liking yourself better; a tool that could be dangerous in the wrong hands). I’m going to act as if nobody knows I’m on WW and therefore I may eat what I want, when I want it, AND sticking more or less to WW principles, because nobody knows, OK? I’m going to act as if the answer I’m giving in response to enquiries about my research proposal is not exactly the same in content as the previous response. Or maybe I could bore them with the minutest detail…

 Maybe it would not be such a bad thing for me to be aware of and thankful for the small steps that have been in the right direction. “I’m still working on it” is a truth that people could interpret as negative, but that’s their problem, right? I’m still giving small steps (relatively) consistently in the (sort of) right direction. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


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