How do we know who we truly are? How can we decipher all those little details of ourselves to figure out for certain the kind of person we want to be? When trying to find an image to help convey this idea of ‘who are we?’ or the all encompassing ‘self’, this picture I took a while back seemed to fit perfectly. Just a shadow with no other details; an outline, a shape filled with endless possibilities. I suppose that’s what it comes down to – do we ever truly know ourselves? Can we concretely say “yes, this is who I am”. I believe we constantly change and move, fluctuating from different thoughts, ideas, likes and dislikes, depending on where we currently find ourselves to be. Whether that’s through the social circles we move in and out of, our work environment, and most importantly our home environment. Also what we are subjected to through advertisements, music, fashion, foods etc etc. Everything we experience in life, plays a part in determining who we are. I’m still figuring out who I am and the kind of person I want to become.
So when someone says “just be yourself”, what does this mean? It seems so simple yet fully loaded with past feelings, thoughts and behaviours. And, further more do people actually want to see the ‘real’ you, or are they just being nice? Are they subtly hinting that you should closet away certain parts of yourself so you then fit in with their idea of who you are? I always find myself feeling unsure what this statement means. When someone say this it’s usually when your encountering different people in an unfamiliar environment. It’s meant to be a reassuring and calming comment for when your feeling apprehensive about meeting new people. Quietening those questions running through your head – “will they like me? I hope I don’t embarrass myself by saying something silly or stupid” – etc etc. We are mostly comfortable being ourselves, or letting people see who we truly are, when we begin to feel secure and safe in that environment. Where we feel we’re not going to be judge or questioned by those people. Alternatively, if we really think about it, maybe we are just refining and photoshopping who we are to fit into the environment and situations we find ourselves in, based on the people we’re with. I know I certainly behave differently when I’m with my family, friends, work colleagues and my boyfriend. It’s like there are various versions of yourself and we compartmentalise who we are for different people.
But why should that be the case? Why cannot we not just be all of those personalities at once. All those characters are just bits and pieces of who we are. Instead of pulling them apart lets put them together and shine brightly for everyone to see. Surely, by hiding or compartmentalising ourselves for others, we’re only judging ourselves. It is only ourselves that we are holding back. By not fully committing to who we are, we are in some way suggesting we are ashamed or embarrassed by our character, likes/dislikes or actions. We currently live in an age where we can document our every move yet we still manage to photoshop and gloss over certain parts we don’t like.
No one else is going to miss out if we don’t show who we truly are, and that’s a horrible thought. To think I spent most of my life trying to cover up parts of myself because I’m worried about what others think. To think I’ve missed most of my life focusing on those thoughts and feelings is not a please thought. Slowly over the past few years, I have begun to truly accept who I am, where I am and the kind of person I strive to be. And for that I am in a much happier and content place emotionally and physically (although right now I am not in the greatest space health wise). I’ve tried to be a little prouder of the things I do and like, and as my drama teacher once said to me, “Emma, you are unashamedly weird”. Now, I’m taking that as a complement and why not? At school I tried to fit in with people and be something different and it didn’t work. It wasn’t me. It is only now, having been to university, worked in various roles and discovered more about myself that I can see how wrong I was to deny who I truly am. It’s not that those experiences were a waste of time, I try to use them as experiences to learn from and move forward from. Everything we experience in life, moulds and shapes who we. We can’t control what happens, only how we deal with the consequences of those actions.
I’m still trying to figure out my place in the world (maybe I’ll never figure it out), who I am, and the things that move me and bring me joy. Life is a process not an end product. The end product in my view is death. Everything up until that point is a journey and should be relished at every opportunity. Just remember we are all shadows and we can fill them how ever we like!
Be proud of everything!