Wherever you go, there you are.

Warning, by jennspoint
Warning, by jennspoint

I spent some time this week on Google trying to find the origin of the phrase “Wherever you go, there you are.” It seems a lot of people have used the phrase throughout history, but no one remembers where it came from. Well, I first heard it from my Grandpa, so I’m going to credit him (RTG, 1894-1990).

Anyway, I think everyone who has said it had a very good point.

I remember thinking in 2002 when I enrolled in the University of Phoenix Online that all of my problems were finally over. I thought I was finally going to have the opportunity to reinvent myself, and become that confident, popular person I had always wanted to be.

You see, I’ve always dealt with a certain amount of shyness and insecurity in dealing with people face-to-face, and in speaking or performing in front of people. I’ve never been very confident about my physical appearance or my ability to hold up my end of a conversation with intelligent people because I have a hard time thinking on my feet and remembering details and facts under pressure. I’ve always been better at communicating in writing, because when doing so, I have more time to think and research what I’m going to say before I hit “send.”

When I had an opportunity to attend class online, I felt I was in heaven on earth. Although I had always been a good student before in the sense of getting good grades, I had never been great with in-class participation, or with networking or making friends with my classmates because of my social insecurities. The option to communicate mostly in writing seemed like the perfect answer to these problems. To a degree, it worked! My experience at the University of Phoenix was a good one, and I was successful.

The problem I had was that after I finished school, I had to go back to my real life – and I was still me. I still had all of the same insecurities and lack of confidence that I’d had before, and in 2004, communicating solely online was not an option for most people.

As time went on, and the Internet became more and more a part of everyday life for the majority of the population, the opportunities for online communication grew, and I found ways to participate and be involved, of course. The problem for me is that as the world becomew more tech-savvy, the trend is to make real-time face-to-face communication via the web more commonplace. People want to voice chat, video chat, or at least IM. Most are no longer happy with just using discussion forums or email for quality communication.

I know I wasn’t the only one who had the dream of reinventing myself online. The virtual reality site Second Life, was largely built around this concept. Many of the users (“residents”) in the beginning subscribed to a total immersion philosophy and stayed “in character” for the entire time they were in-world. Some used the site for role-playing, and others for just a way to make friends and get away from their “real life” for awhile. For some it was a form of recreation, and for others it was therapy. A lot of people still use these virtual reality sites for communication, but most people have more or less integrated their online identities and personalities with their real ones – whether or not they actually reveal their real names. Most are no longer happy with communicating only in-world, and prefer to incorporate voice, video, and outside social networking sites with their in-world experience.

After numerous awkward encounters and communication failures in the real-time environment, I find I’ve largely lost my confidence, and that online communication is nearly as difficult for me as face-to-face communication has always been. I’ve been taking small steps to gain that confidence, but it isn’t easy, and it seems like the older I get, the harder it is.

I’m wondering if other people have experienced something similar? Have you tried to reinvent yourself in some way, and how did it go? Were you successful..why, or why not? Do you have any advice?

17 thoughts

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Norma. I can definitely relate to several of these challenges, and it is comforting to know that there are others experiencing similar things…and who have learned to make peace and find ways to be happy and successful in life. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Jenn.
    I’m also getting older. I enjoy your article. I can truly say that I am going through the change of life if you know what I mean. The mid life crisis. The don’t give a hoot section of things. It’s difficult to take everything in at once. I came from a very dysfunctional environment and for years had to see therapists for a condition called depression. After the years went by I was diagnosed with PTSD. On top of that I have several health issues that has kept me away from population all together. I wasn’t very social growing up. I found it difficult to be around people since many only taunted me, because I looked different. I was like this antenna where I attracted the wrong crowds and people. I learned to live in isolation not, because I am afraid of anyone, but because of avoidance of problems. This type of behavior that I have to engage all of my life has kept me from getting in trouble with the law or even committing any types of crimes. I know what you mean about engaging in the real world or online. I find it more comfortable writing in forums than I do going to any place in real life. I live a peaceful life, because I chose to live in isolation. When I lived in N.Y.C. I found it difficult taking any subway that was express. After 911 it got worse for me. I began experiencing panic attacks and that made me get off trains until I felt better. Once I felt better I began taking local trains. When I didn’t feel like taking the subway I took the bus and so forth avoiding crowds and rush hours. It’s difficult. I know what you mean. I still have panic attacks, but on those days I stay home.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog Jenn and for writing this really honest post about the challenges of reinvention! As an introvert who struggled for many years with what you mention above, I love the possibilities inherent in reinvention. It opens me up to thinking “What could I be if I let go of what people are expecting me to be?” I find the reinvention process has to occur in my own head first – regardless of which world I’m in. It’s me deciding that I could be different that opens me up to redefine some aspect of myself that I’d lost, or hidden, or thought people cared to “keep small”. One of the things that has helped me is reframing success and failure in my mind and keeping the wolves of perfection at bay. I have a favourite tool that sounds weird but it really has worked for me. It’s a “what if today, I just try to be mediocre or try to do something poorly, or try to f*&k it up” – this kind of thinking takes my mind off the expectations of perfection that we mostly put on ourselves, and focusses me on getting into the moment and just enjoying what is in front of me. It’s enabled me to get up and sing in front of people which is something I would never have been able to do when I was younger, and has allowed me space to expand myself while giving myself permission to screw up and have plenty of wobbles – which is totally normal! Good luck with your reinvention and here’s to many screwups, lessons, and self-expansion along the way! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a fantastic idea, Ella. Your suggestion brings to mind the reason I’ve always enjoyed those video games where you’re driving a car. I never worry about points…I just do all the stuff I could never do in a REAL car. I drive way too fast, drive into things, crash over and over…by the time I see “game over,” I feel like I’ve had a good workout, and all the stress is gone! 🙂

      Thanks, again.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have the same issues with being slow to think on my feet. Yet real-time social media have not entirely replaced well-thought-out prose written at due leisure, and I’ve found a comfortable home among people who still prefer to let their thoughts breathe. Don’t give up hope that relating to other people online at your own pace and in your own way is still possible and still fulfilling. If real-time communication is unavoidable, then the solution is being strongly aware of the level of trust involved with each specific person or group. Some people you’ll trust more, some less, some not at all. Finding those few people you can trust implicitly helps greatly with the kinds of issues you describe.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think we all do this – we create the persona we feel is going to be more acceptable to those outside our immediate circle which includes employment and relationships. I have seen some really creative resumes! I discovered that my mother who was renowned right to the end, for her fashion style, had changed her own name at age 5 from Molly to Mollie…because she felt it looked more in keeping with her image – everybody knew her as Mollie for 95 years. She told me when I found out that it made her feel better about herself. I have worked on radio behind a mic and on television live in front of a camera. Behind a mic I could be 5ft 5in – petite with a snub nose – in front of the camera reality set in as I tried to fold my 6foot frame into elegant lines. Basically, we all do it and feel it and sometimes you just have to say to yourself -if everyone else (excluding a few who are grossly vain and delusional) feels like this then what the heck – go for it…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, there you go. The next time I feel panic setting in and am tempted to either close the chatroom window or slip out the back door, I’ll just remind myself this is happening because I am not grossly vain or delusional, and stay, and ride it out! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Always remember this. Online no one can see what you’re wearing or if you’re sad. You can write a story and still have a different emotion while doing so. Here you can be yourself or anything you choose. I have learned so much about being online for the past few years. I’m very content with the outcome. I can’t complaint. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think whatever you come up with the reinvention, it’s still the you that could-have-been if the world were to accept it. In other words, if you were to find the security here, carry it out out-there, it’s still a side of you that you would have nourished and made true, but if you can only survive in the virtual world, that means the world out there is not for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good point. We all have different aspects to our personalities that we only show in environments where we feel comfortable sharing that part of ourselves. It stands to reason that some people are going to be able to share and explore certain parts of themselves in a (relatively) anonymous environment, such as the virtual world. In many ways, this can be very therapeutic.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I tend to agree with you. Having spent since the 80’s in various aspect of the old and new networks… from BBS’s, MUD’s, to the early university access and gopher, telnet, other apps from early DOS, then in 95 to Windows and slow growth from the old AOL days to the actual web we now know… communication with people tends to be short, quick, difficult. Most people seem afraid to reveal their inner life or emotions, afraid someone might use these are abuse these.

    For the past few years I was part of the worldwide philosophical community on my darkecologies.com site, did a great deal of essays on both Continental and Analytical philosophy but realized that people even at this late stage in culture are clearly not as educated as they presume, so were confused by many things I was saying. I’m 62 and pretty much a self-reliant in the Emersonian way creature, a polymath who has diverse tastes in life and art. Over the years with reading, etc. gathered in a great deal of knowledge on various subjects, yet, I realize without being snobbish that most of the young people have little or no grasp of the wide and vast cultural reference material that was standard fare when I was growing up even in the fifties and sixties. Strange that young people in universities have little interest in the older Western literary and cultural heritage.

    Saying that the online culture is a blip, soundbyte culture. I’ve just had to accept it and go on. What I do now is try to inform, educate, and broaden people’s tools… allow them to be challenged in small bytes of information on that vast territory of the past that once was our heritage, but has now become an amnesia…

    It’s one of those little daily tasks. Just don’t give to pessimism… keep on fighting the good fight. Once in a while you actually run across and equal or even some with more wisdom or knowledge than your self. It’s amazing to find a few great souled creatures out there. Almost a strange gift!


    1. That’s excellent, advice, S.C. – not to give to pessimism. And yes, I’ve met some wonderful people online over the years, too – people I would never have met in person.

      You also have a very good point about the younger generation. Most of what was considered standard reading several decades ago is no considered politically incorrect. Younger folks are more likely to know the alternate sci-fi (zombie, vampire, time-travel, or post-apocalyptic) version of historical events than the real version. 😉 I’m 46, so my learning was affected by both the older and newer methods of learning and communicating. My frustrations these days aren’t so much with other people, but my own inability to keep up with them.

      I love your blog. I always enjoy seeing your posts in my newsfeed. Thanks so much for the insightful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re 46. I’m 48 years old. It feels good to be this old. 🙂 I had a feeling you weren’t that older. We tend to be very knowledgeable after a few years. I’m looking forward to the other years ahead. Enjoy your life.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m not quite of your vintage, as I’m only 49, but my thoughts about younger people have sometimes been similarly derogatory. Both of us, however, appear to be part of a 200,000-year-old pattern in which aging people bemoan change and the world no longer being the way it was when we were young. I do my best to get into the minds of today’s young people in order to avoid becoming a cliche. It’s difficult, but a middle ground is definitely possible.


  8. I think that, if you’d like to continue this discussion , I can be reached at emiliopasquale@outlook.com. But as I read this, I was thinking you and I are so much alike that The Beatles song _I Am The Walrus” came to mind. Don’t ask me to explain but maybe these lyrics will help:
    “I am he
    As you are he
    As you are me
    And we are all together”


    1. Ha ha ha, Emilio. Well, I had not heard that song before, so I had to look it up on YouTube. Then, I had to read the lyrics….still confused, I consulted Wikipedia, and it all began to make more sense. I certainly hope my confused rambling of the last few days isn’t what made you think of that particular song. 😉

      Thanks for the encouragement, and for stopping by. -Jenn


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