What is this?

What is this tightness in my neck and shoulders?
For what reason do I squint and purse my lips?
Am I becoming the thing that I once stuck up my nose at being?

I think back to my youth (and of course you think I am thinking too heavily at this point, for surely I am still in my youth having barely being alive for twenty-two years, right?) and I remember some things that I used to say, that I used to believe.

I had a tie-dyed t-shirt two sizes too big, hair that came down to my eyes, and my pants rode too low. People used to tell me that someday I would have to get a haircut and wear my pants at my waist and tuck in my shirts which would have collars. I laughed. They told me that I would have to do this because that’s the way the world works. Because people don’t do business with people that look like they would be right at home with a nicely rolled joint behind their ear.

Now what? I look down at myself as I walk out of my corporate office building, and see a belt. I can see it because my shirt is tucked in. My shirt, which has a collar, of all things, is tucked into my pants which are held at my waist with a belt. I walk to my luxury/sports wagon which probably cost too much money and I drive home. I did this to myself. I get haircuts. I started parting my hair on the side again. I accepted a job knowing that I would be required to wear collared shirts. I started tucking them in.

Yet, as I look down at myself, I see the climbing hook with too many keys and a stick of RAM. I see that my belt has pairs of metal grommets at one inch intervals. I see that my wallet has a chain. I see that I am still wearing my work boots to the office. I see signs that some part of me refuses to let itself be compromised. I think that’s why I still walk upright and laugh instead of slouching and mumbling awkwardly.

Lately I have been struggling with change, as we all undoubtedly do, and mostly my problems are stemming from the fact that I am allowing myself to change in a way that feel may be causing inconsistencies in my philosophies. For instance, I have been increasingly conscious of the consequences of my actions for the environment. I find myself thinking about what sort of impact the soap that I use to wash my car will have on the water supply as it goes down the drain into the sewer at the end of the driveway. However, it didn’t stop me from washing my car roughly every two weeks from the time that I got it until it became too cold for that to be plausible. I find myself turning off the TV in the living room when nobody is around to watch it, but then I go downstairs to the basement and turn on my computer which sits next to two other computers that run day in and day out. I have been a believer in negative population growth since high school, but I have begun to donate blood (which I hear saves lives). Shoot. It seems that I am a living, breathing, walking compromise.

A friend of mine seems to think that compromise is a bad thing. She and I sparred verbally for a bit about it the other day, but the conversation quickly degenerated into a much less serious and somewhat comical situation wherein we both kept repeating the taglines to our arguments and I’m sure if we had not been more mature adults, one or the other of us (or even both) would have stuck our fingers in our ears and started to sing our favorite song loudly and off-pitch. So, we just changed the topic of conversation to something more fun. Her argument was that “in a compromise, nobody wins” and I think that’s true in the sense that neither party gets fully what they sought out to get. However, it did seem to me as though the direction she was trying to take that was “in a compromise, everybody loses” which I think is untrue. I think that the point of a compromise is that both parties see gain, even if it does not fulfill the potential gain that was initially sought that could have been obtained at the expense of the other party. I feel that this is a good thing, and I think that thinking about myself as a compromise in this sense has allowed me to overcome these changes that I have noticed in myself.

I guess what I am trying to say is that while I may be a compromise, I don’t think I’m losing for it.