I remain unconvinced that I will ever know myself fully. There always seems to be another Identity Uncertainty looming near or within me. Not a crisis, mind you. It’s just that this thing that is me is ever-changing and I’m only clued in on the conscious actions, which seems to be a great minority of who I am.
So much about me was determined the moment sperm met egg. Even more was determined before my brain had the capacity to form lasting memories. I have been entrenched in a civilization that I have all but no control over since before I took my first breath.
My biases were formed while I was learning to form sentences. They hardened as I created opinions. Crack them as I might, shall they ever be destroyed? Do I have that power? Or can I only let in as much light as possible and try to enclose my children as little as possible?
I’ve been called an overthinker many, many times. I tend to think this isn’t a bad thing though it has its disadvantages, one of which is constantly questioning my own motivations.
As a feminist, I wonder how much my personal preferences are influenced by patriarchy. I am an amalgamation of sexual desire and detestation. I rarely wear makeup or heels, but I shave and am counting calories to lose weight. Sure, the ebb and flow of desire is natural and losing excess weight tends to be better for your health, but how much of that is true for me personally? My perception of my body and its processes are filtered through a billion ideas about what a person should be, what a woman should be, what a woman with my racial/biological/educational/ideological background should look like, what she should think and do and feel. How much is me and how much is what I think I should be?
I heard a quote recently. It was one of those moments where someone perfectly expresses a concept you’ve had on the tip of your tongue for years. I could almost feel my brain cells shifting into a new pattern. The quote was brought up during a radio discussion about why we feel like we’re different people depending on who we’re with.
“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.”
Whitman was right. We contradict ourselves. We contain multitudes. So be it.
I am coming out of another long period of Identity Uncertainty. The time spent within always feels dark and depressing, but I come out better for it on the other side. Sorrow is inevitable, we must savor it as much as joy. Such is life.
My perspective has shifted again. As it should, as it must, as I am thankful for. May I never stagnate.
“So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”
If you are wondering where the title quote came from, check out the student-made advertisement below. If ads were like this, I would watch more television.