A look in the mirror
On finding yourself and the concept of the self
Oh hey, who are you? Only a flick of a moment there is panic beneath green eyes and long lashes. How dares he to ask me who I am? I feel unable to answer that question asked so often. Asked, while being awake past midnight, when running through foggy forests and swimming through frosty clear water, when baking with grandma or sleeping in the arms of a friend. Asked by myself. Who am I? How dares he to ask a question demanding honesty beyond measure? How fast a mind can think though, as not even a second later, there are smiling eyes and the answer to his question, a name thrown at his face, maybe forgotten within an hour, maybe remembered forever.
Who are we though? Some of us are searching daily, never finding the selves we want to be, the selves we are, the selves others think we are, the selves that wake up and go to sleep with us, all supposed to be the same. But they never are.
When you ask volunteers why they take a year off from their daily reality, their home where they used to be, their friends, their work, their family, a common answer is “to find myself”.
Finding yourself, as starting to know who you are. Your goals, ambitions, your unique features, your strength and weaknesses. Finding yourself in one year, to be able to make conscious choices for our future self, to create a reality for ourselves. The self, we discovered and found during that one year living abroad.
But that doesn’t work. Because we are constantly evolving. Constantly changing. You find yourself today and don’t recognize yourself tomorrow. With every smile, every thought, information, kiss, feeling, tear in our eyes, we are growing out of ourselves. So finding yourself seems to be as impossible as catching a rainbow in a mason jar. Capturing something abstract and fugacious in a thing supposed to stand the test of time.
Finding your self isn´t like finding and getting to know another person. Because finding a person only is seeing what they show to you, the things, they are sure about, maybe the vulnerable spots they dare to show you. It is the licensed version of their own self-image created on the quest to find whatever they were searching for or while doing whatever they are doing.
Neither can knowing yourself be as knowing the lyrics to a song. But it might be like listening to one. Listening to yourself, Concentrating on the thoughts passing your mind and the feelings of what´s underneath that mind. Listening to the now you created. Listening now. And tomorrow. .As you are constantly evolving, the knowledge about yourself should be too. Taking a year off and knowing who you are afterwards does not work. Travelling to exotic places and corners of bookstores which only inhabit strange words in unknown languages does not make you find yourself. As what you are searching for is always with you. It´s the voices inside your head and what still remains when you silence those. The daydreams you shake off because they seem irrelevant and silly. It´s the people you think about at 2 am when you can´t sleep and those you think about at 2 pm when your hands are busy and your mind is fuzzy because you are so overloaded with work.
We will probably mostly see scatterbrained shivers of a mirror when searching for ourselves. Maybe never see and definitely never show the whole. But that´s fine. Important may be though, to never try to see something else in that mirror than there is. To be our authentic selves, no matter how blurry that self might be. To not feel ashamed for what we see when we see us.
I think, I might never know myself. As I leave my past self daily for a person I don´t know. And who am I, writing my thoughts about finding myself when I have no clue, when I even hesitate saying my name, unsure which one I want to hear when the asking person calls me. Nickname or the one my parents gave me. The one I grew up with teachers saying when they gave me information to wrap my thoughts around or the one I hear friends screaming at night while running through the city, wine stained jeans on and worn off mascara on our faces. Two different selves that are supposed to be the same, but never are, are they?