Being oneself – or at least who we think we are!
Who are we?
Are we merely products of the culture, the family and friends we live in and with?
If I had been born in Saudi Arabia I would be a Sunni Muslim. If I had been born in Iran I would have been Shia. If I had been born in Mississippi I would be going to the Baptist church regularly. If I had been born in Brazil I would be Catholic, India – Hindu. Or would I?
I was born in the freedom of England and brought up in a liberating environment where little was forced on me.
I am a free thinking, alternative antitheist.
I am a product of my own individuality. I am a free man making decisions and choices based on my own preferences and personality.
Or do I?
I value my freedom and individuality and would fight to preserve it. I detest indoctrination and being manipulated by the media or advertising.
I feel I can make my own mind up. Or can I?
When can we ever truly be ourselves? Do we reflect aspects of our personality, likes and dislikes, to the people around us? Does anyone ever see the full picture? Do we always hold back for one reason or another? How much of our behaviour is subconscious.
Two things stand out for me.
The first is the dilemma of holding a party and realising that you have different groups of friends who hold different views of you as a person and the two sets of friends are almost mutually exclusive. You cannot conceive of them having anything in common. Both groups see you as a totally different person.
The second is an illustration from life.
I went for an interview for a management position at school and failed.
On the way back to my room, in pensive mood and trying to cope with the disappointment, I passed two colleagues. They both asked how I’d done and I told them I’d failed.
The first said that they were not surprised because I was always too flippant. I needed to take things more seriously and stop making jokes all the time. The boss had to see that I was someone who was not merely funny but had a serious side.
The second informed me that they were not surprised; I was far too serious and I needed to lighten up a bit.
I realised that both of those people saw me as a completely different person. When I was with them I displayed one facet of my personality. That was all they saw. This wasn’t a conscious thing. It was habit. When I was with them that I automatically assumed a certain persona.
When I was at work I was one person.
When I was out of work I was someone else.
I switched automatically and subconsciously. Few people, if any, received the full gamut of my total personality. I was like a chameleon.
So who am I?
I am the product of everything that has ever happened to me and the interaction with the core of my personality. I am a product of my time and circumstance.
What that core of individuality actually is remains hard to discern or define – if it exists at all.
But I’ll still fight for the right to be who the hell I think I am even if that isn’t me at all!