Hello one and all!
Earlier today, my friend mentioned that he was talking to a girl he “used to know”. What he actually meant was that he was talking to me. My response to him included the following tidbits:
“How do you know someone unless you are a mind-reader and lived their life?”
“It’s so hard to explain when we barely know ourselves.”
It got me wondering what it means to be and know ourselves, as well as to know each other.
One of the biggest difficulties I have had is separating “who” I am from “what” I am. I am a woman, a student, a daughter, a partner, a friend… it is all too easy to add more labels to that list. While none of those words alone could explain who I am, all of those words combined still would not truly explain it either. They all describe “what” I am.
So then if these words are not “who” I am, then who am I? To be honest, I don’t know. It’s not something I think I will ever be able to explain succinctly. I have always felt that there are different parts of me. At the risk of sounding mentally unsound, I have often described it as having different people inside me, and I (usually) choose who I want to be depending on the situation.
I am not the same person at work as I am at home. I am not the same person at home as I am with my parents. I am not the same person with my parents as I am with my friends.
Sound confusing? It is.
The lines get blurred sometimes, most often between work-me and friend-me. This has resulted in me being described as overly formal or distant, which pushes potential friends away. Sometimes I am at work or on the go when all I want to be is home-me, and I simply can’t be that in public. Ever tried curling up and meowing like a cat on the train? Not a good idea; luckily for me, my partner finds it adorable.
Even those distinctions don’t make it easier to figure out who I am. If anything, they make it harder because I feel like I am not always the same person from moment to moment.
So who am I then? And more importantly, who are you? Yes, you, reading this right now. Who are you? How do you define yourself?
Once we each figure out who we are as individuals, we must face an even harder task. Who are “we”? What group do we belong to? What does that group stand for? Are we citizens, are we members of a religion, are we family, or are we members of multiple groups, multiple versions of “we”?
I have no answers.