Monday, April 27, 2015

Who Are We?

            At some point in their lives, I'm pretty sure everyone asks themselves, “Who am I?” It’s such a simple question, but the answer is always elusive. That’s not too surprising; after all, a personality is such a complex thing, how can you even begin to define it?

            I did a lot of self-searching in my younger days (yes, yes, I know I'm not old enough to be saying that), so I thought I’d share my insights for anyone they might help.

I think everyone feels that, at their core, there is some part of them that truly defines them as a unique individual. It’s that part of us that we try to get in touch with when we start questioning who we are. It may be some instinct defined in our genetic code, the ideals we learned from our parents when we were young or something else entirely. I don’t know – I doubt anyone does.

            For me, I’d long ago lost touch with that core because I hadn't liked who it was telling me to be. So, when I was still a kid, I’d pretended to be a better person until it became true. I was truly surprised when I started my self-searching and discovered this. I had been able to change who I was, down to the centre of my being, into someone I wanted to be.

            Still, even with that knowledge, it was hard to define who I was and what I believed in. Because, as I said before, we are complicated. How do you define the many facets of a personality?

            Then I landed on the saying, “We are the sum of our experiences.” That says it all, but what does it mean? It means that everything that happens in your life becomes a part of you. Every interaction with every person you've ever met becomes a part of you. Everything you see, hear, touch, taste, smell, think and do becomes a small part of who you are.

            Even the smallest experiences can change who we are. Finding a $20 bill in a parking lot might turn us into an optimist, scanning the ground for money wherever we go. On the other hand, finding that we've misplaced a $20 bill we were certain we had might make us paranoid about people stealing from us. We change.

            Other people are the greatest influence. Humans are social beings; we thrive on shared knowledge and wisdom. Other people change our minds on subjects, or we change theirs. More than that, though, what they think of us changes who we are – or, more pointedly, what we think they think of us changes who we are. Either by trying to live up to their expectations or by trying to prove we aren't who they think we are, we change.

            When we start to think about this, we tend to fight back, because if we’re influenced by so many other things, are we still true to ourselves? Are we still the unique, free individuals we believe we are? The answer is yes, and I’ll tell you why.

            No one experiences the same things in their lives. Everyone reacts differently to each situation. All those little things come together to form a person who is unlike any other.

            But if we’re influenced by other people, are we still true to ourselves? Yes, we are, because that’s what a person is. While they’re influencing you, you’re influencing them. The only way to avoid this is to shut yourself up where you have no contact with other people – and even that doesn't work, because the decision to do that would be made with the influence of the knowledge that others were influencing you.

            Without the influences of other people, we probably wouldn't even be aware we are people ourselves. Where we get to have our say is in choosing how we want to allow our interactions with others to change us,

            That, right there, is what I've come to discover is the most important aspect of our personality – who we want to be. It can give us as close to a definition of who we are as anything can, because even if it isn't who we are yet, it is who we strive to be.

            As for everything else, it is simply an influence. Be it what people think, say or do, or a $20 bill in the right place at the right time, it changes how we view the world and react to it – but we can also choose how we let it affect us. We can choose whether or not it takes us towards who we want to be.

            Of course, because of how complicated we and the world around us are, who we want to be is changing constantly as well. When you think about it, it’s hardly surprising that so many people get confused when trying to define themselves.


            So, in the end, who are we? Quite simply, we are the people doing the best we can, hoping to be the best we can be.





Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.


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If there's any subject you'd like to see me ramble on about, feel free to leave a comment asking me to do so.

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