Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 93: Insurmountable Ambition

Aura (The Professional): Hey Mom, can I talk to you about something?

Mom (Me): Of course. You too, Lark?

Lark (The Dreamer): Yes, me as well. I’ll let Aura explain though.

Aura: This seems silly to bring up, but I wanted to talk about my personal projects.

Mom: I don’t think that’s silly. Why do you say that?

Aura: Because we’ve talked about it before. Way back in Scene 14 you explained to me why my personal projects failed over and over again.

Mom: Explained to Lark, but I understand, you two were still sharing a body back then. But yes, we talked about it before.

Aura: I still don’t understand why I didn’t find some small success. I was creative and somewhat skilled, even back then. Why couldn’t I spin that into even a single successful project?

Mom: You mean aside from the gender incongruence and the lack of emotional energy?

Lark: When you put it that way, it does seem like a silly question. We didn’t understand our gender incongruence enough to even identify it back then, let alone try to counteract it. Those barriers felt insurmountable.

Aura (frustrated): Yes, granted. But there must be more to it than that. Mom, you’ve managed to keep this series going *much* longer than you expected, right?

Mom: Somehow, yes.

Aura: And you’re well past the point where writing this is automatic. Back when we first had this conversation, you were flying high on the novelty of creation and words flowed from your fingertips like so much water. But that hasn’t been the case for a while now.

Mom: It’s… It’s gotten more difficult, yes.

Lark (worried): You don’t have to talk about it here if you don’t want to.

Mom: Talking about it here is sort of the point, Lark. That said, I’m not sure my recent difficulties with writing are necessarily relevant here — what are you driving at, Aura?

Aura: Just that you seem to have this whole personal project thing figured out by now, much more than you did when we first talked about it. Yes, gender incongruence drained my emotional reserves to almost nothing. Yes, I had gendered expectations lying in wait, ready to sabotage me at the first major stumble. But I should have been able to make *something,* right? *Family of Me* flew along for months before you really had to worry about your creative well running dry; I’d feel like I should have stumbled across *some* idea that could be created relatively quickly and put into the world before those issues caught up with me. But I didn’t. There was nothing.

Mom: No, there wasn’t. Okay, let’s talk about why. When you were working on your personal projects, what were you creating them for?

Aura: I wanted to make a great game, or invent something noteworthy. I wanted to come up with the next big thing. I wanted to achieve commercial success, to fulfill my lifelong dream of financial independence… Hang on.

Mom: What is it?

Aura: My dreams. Whenever I’ve attempted personal projects, my ambitions were always informed by Lark.

Lark: Well sure, it’s my job to surface relevant dreams and desires. I’ve done that for all of my sisters, in their times. I do it for Mom too.

Aura: So what was different when I tried it? Why is Mom able to create and I wasn’t?

Mom: Scope, for one. Your grand ambitions demanded big projects with big expectations. When I started this series it wasn’t even a series — it was a handful of Mastodon posts that I kept writing because I found them helpful and people seemed to like them.

Aura: What about your novella? That wasn’t small, but you still finished it.

Mom: It wasn’t small, but I had rock bottom expectations. I wasn’t really expecting anyone to read it, and even after I’d finished it I was embarrassed to talk about it. It took months to grow out of the habit of putting my work down as I was telling people about it.

Aura: So I should have started smaller, is what you’re saying.

Mom: Yes, but by and large, you couldn’t. You weren’t just trying to create something, you were trying to prove yourself to the world, and that put you in an impossible situation. Low emotional energy ensured that any significant barrier would stop your work… And sky-high expectations ensured there would always be a significant barrier.

Aura (annoyed): So I was doomed from the beginning. I was doing my best and my twin sister was sabotaging my efforts.

Lark (upset): Hey! I didn’t invent your ambitions, I just keep track of them! Besides, you didn’t seem to mind all of the girly dreams I was holding for you, not that you ever would have admitted to them.

Aura (tearful): That’s not… I was doing my best…

Mom (cross): Stop it, you two. Aura, I understand your frustration as if I felt it myself — which I did, if you recall. There’s no need to take it out on your sister.

Aura (frustrated): But it isn’t fair! Why are things so different now? I always had to contend with Lark’s input making my projects difficult to complete. Why did she flood me with dreams and she didn’t flood you?

Lark (angry): I did “flood” Mom with dreams too! I still do! Look, transition changed the game for us! Instead of being fixated on proving my worth to the world, I had finally become myself — I was determined to let the world know who I am. That’s what I’ve been sending to Mom: Her intense wish to tell her own story. Her desperate desire to be seen and understood as herself, as truly as she could manage.

Mom (calm): So we’re motivated differently now. You were driven by a desire to prove yourself. I’m driven by a desire to love myself. It’s still hard sometimes, I won’t pretend it’s never a struggle. But it’s a much more sustainable motivation. And it means that I can dash off a thousand words a couple times a week and still count that as a success — not everything has to be an epic saga capable of selling a million copies.

Aura (deflated): I get it, Mom. I understand, it’s just… I wish I could have been successful in my time too.

Mom: Yeah, I know. Maybe someday we’ll achieve that measure of success too. And it’s not like you won’t get another chance — you’re still my persona, and I’ll need your help.

Aura (smiling): You will, will you?

Mom: As sure as the sun rising in the morning.

Aura: Okay then. I’m glad we’re working closer together on things.

Lark: Me too, honestly.

Mom: Me three. Thanks, girls.