Who are you?
As products of a man-made society, we are cultured to look outwards to understand who we are. Our family and friends are constantly slapping on labels, telling us what we are good at and what we are not good at, and generally paving the way for who they believe we are to them. Our educational credentials and professional work experience are also easily attributed to the type of person we “must be”. The lawyer must be a deceivingly convincing liar. The investment banker must be a money hungry workaholic. The doctor must be an emotionless surgical machine.
Society sketches the structure, draws in the hierarchy, and neatly slots us in where we belong. Our resume and social background determine are woven into our fabric and present to others what we have to offer. Have we really given our Facebook profile, and the number of likes and comments, so much power, to autonomously determine who we are?
I feel like we are all under a hypnotic spell to live up to society’s expectations of us, of somebody else’s impression of us, and of the other’s definition of who we apparently are. We condition ourselves this way – to not think for ourselves, and instead, to allow everybody else to do our thinking, our feeling, and our concluding. We put our brain on autopilot and our heart on hold as we desperately look around for others to decide what we are made of.
Somebody else gets to tell you who you are? And you have to tirelessly live up to the constantly changing expectations of others? For the rest of your fatigued life, you’ll be chasing an ever-changing description of yourself, in a mad rush to color in what others are sketching for you? It just doesn’t sound… right. (It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun either!)
So, what happens when we stop and take back the control? It’s as simple as just not allowing others to tell you who you are. Isn’t it?
Stop enabling others to control what you think of yourself and who you define yourself to be.
The very thought that another person believes they have the right to control your definition of yourself is just outright absurd. When you let somebody else define who you are, you will be continuously striving to live up to their expectations of what you’re made of. It’s like you’re in hot pursuit of something that keeps evading you. When you think you’ve got it in the bag, it will change shape, or size, or color, and then you’ll be running after it all over again. You’re chasing a mirage, an illusory destination. “It” will not stay and “it” will not remain, because “it” does not actually exist. Your GPS is searching for all the wrong locations, and that means you’ll forever be on a wild goose chase.
To truly be yourself, you must know yourself.
And to know yourself, you must be willing to look within, search through the depths of your inner self, and juggle the daunting pieces together so they make some sort of intuitive sense to you. Redirect your energies inwards. Tap into the wealth of your inner knowledge. You yourself hold the key to your secrets, so why not unlock the doors that will illuminate the essence of your being? You yourself know your innermost desires, treasured ideals, and intimate dreams. So, trust yourself to figure things out, for yourself. And then, define yourself.
Sure, you can rely on others to help you and guide you, but you control your thoughts, your actions, your words – they make you who you are.
Think of it as you being the director of your own movie. You have others to help you create and support your reality (the cameraman, the script writer, the cinematographer) but you are your own cast, you will star in your own movie, and most importantly, you will direct it.
When you know yourself, you will develop a strong sense of self. You will be anchored from within. You will not depend on anyone else or anything else to define who you are. Nothing can shake you, dismantle you, or turn your world upside down… because it all exists within yourself.
I have always taken responsibility for my behavior, holding myself accountable for my actions and words. I make my own choices, chart out my own path, and depend heavily on my sense of self to feel good (or bad) about the direction of my life. My family has lovingly nurtured me, my friends have ceaselessly supported me, and my environment has continuously protected me – they have all provided the sort of flexible guidance and easygoing love I’m eternally thankful for. I’m fortunate to have such good people in my life; they love me unconditionally and in totality, and yet have always encouraged me to foster a deep love of myself.
I was taught early on that there is absolutely nothing wrong in loving yourself, in listening to yourself, and basing your choices on what feels right rather than what looks right. I don’t live for somebody else’s affirmation of my worthiness – I know what I’m made of, independent of external evaluations. I learnt to trust myself at a young age, and I made my choices from what I felt in my heart. I have had my ups and downs, I have risen and I have fallen, but I have no regrets – because I called the shots. It makes it so much easier to stomach the nauseating failures and celebrate the sweet successes when I know that it is indeed what I wanted to do, what I chose to do. If I had made these choices because somebody else told me so, or because my situation pressured me into it, or because I did it to appease somebody or society, I know I wouldn’t feel this sort of unshakeable clarity in my actions.
I’m able to walk the steps in my life with a strong sense of purpose and direction only because I’m true to myself. I trust myself to know myself. And, therefore, I am myself.