If you take an object of any shape and cover it with a blanket, you can still recognize its features. The colour and the pattern on its surface aren’t visible, but anyone should spot what it is.
If you add another blanket on top, some of the smaller features become invisible. Sure, someone familiar with the object may still recognize it, but it’s no so easy.
The more blankets you add, the less the object is recognizable. Until the surface will be completely flat and it won’t be even possible to spot the object at all.
This is what we often do with our essence.
We keep adding layers and layers over it until we can’t distinguish it from others’ essence. Or, in the worst cases, until we can’t even see if the essence is still there.
Layers can take any form; beliefs, habits built over time, social conditionings, failures, and successes.
If you struggle to recognize who you are, maybe it’s time to remove some of those layers and allow your essence to shine again.
“Know thyself” is the famous exhortation from Socrates inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Indeed, to know who we are is essential for just everything in life. Yet, it is also a never-ending quest because we never stop changing.
When we seek the answer to the question “Who am I?” we also run the risk to look backwards. To what we have done and not done, and use that to define who we are today. As if today is the end of the journey, not the beginning.
Psychologist Dan Gilbert calls this phenomenon, the “end of history illusion”.
I spent a lot of time over the last ten years, seeking who I am. As you would expect, I haven’t found a definite answer. Instead, I came up with even more questions. The most important of them is “Who do I want to be?“
It is a tricky question because it requires to look forward, into a future that doesn’t exist yet. The only way to answer is by using my imagination.
Yet, I realised knowing who I want to be is even more important than knowing who I am. Because it allows me to choose my actions today to build the future I envision for tomorrow.
I am going to be different in the future.
I have no doubts about that because change is natural.
If I don’t know who I want to be and act accordingly, somebody or something else will decide who I will be.
“Who am I?” is a powerful question.
One that I’ve been carrying with me since I can remember.
It’s a question that works on its own, even when I’m not deliberately trying to answer.
It is a tricky question, however.
In a way, the answer is easy. I am the living, talking and walking answer.
It is when I want to find an answer in words that things become more complicated. When that desire is triggered, the result is long moments of introspection.
The fact is, that when it comes to the “who am I” question, there is no single answer or absolute truth.
No unambiguous certainty.
The risk then is to get stuck digging in the messiness I hold inside for something that doesn’t exist. Not in the form I’d like at least.
So, maybe “who am I?”, albeit powerful, is not always the best question to ask if my aim is to grow and move forward.
Perhaps, a better question would be “Who do I want to be?”
It’s still a tough question for which I doubt I will ever find a definitive answer. But at least it’s future-oriented. Plus, it’s a question that invites me to use my imagination instead of my logic. So the journey goes from one of understanding what is to one of creating what will be.
“I firmly believe you never should spend your time being the former anything.”Condoleezza Rice
I read this quote yesterday evening, and I feel it’s the perfect follow-up for yesterday post.
When I introduce myself, I usually speak about what I’m doing or about the things I’ve done, my past works or achievements. I define myself by everything that took me where I am now.
Like most of the people I know does. I can’t remember anyone introducing themselves as the next something.
And rarely in conversations among adults, we ask “who do you want to be?”
That’s a question for children. As if, once we grow up, we should be already arrived or defined.
As I wrote yesterday, we define our present through the lenses of our past. Imagination is something for kids.
However, as the study of Professor Gary McPherson showed, our actions are an expression of how we see ourselves. If we see ourselves as former something, we will keep repeating what we have done. If we see ourselves as the next something, then we are setting ourselves on the path to get there.
That’s why I like to call myself an author even if I haven’t really published anything yet.
“First is an intention. Then a behaviour. Then a habit. Then a practice. Then a second nature. Then it is simply who you are.”Brendon Burchard
After a few days without my morning apple, this morning, I woke up feeling incomplete. As if I left out a part of me for too long and now I can feel a hole. This small thing of mine is no more a practice or a habit. It is who I am. Or part of it at least.
These fifteen minutes are a way to remind me every morning who I am. Like looking at the mirror so I can recognise my face.
This post wasn’t planned.
I felt my creative wellspring was drying out, so the plan was to take a few weeks off from this practice. To recharge the batteries and refill my ideas’ reservoir. You know, to write something more appealing or exciting to read.
Then this morning, I sat here, and without even thinking, I found myself tapping on the keyboard. It just makes me feel more connected, more in tune with myself. Some go out for a walk, others meditate or pray. I do this. It’s less about the results and more about the practice itself.
Now I’m ready for the day.