We define ourselves by adopting moral, affective, intellectual, social, political values and behaviors that become ours, that define us. At birth, we have no definition, we are undifferentiated at least in terms of our own consciousness. We are a little bit like stem cells: undifferentiated, capable of taking any direction. We are rapidly enrolled in various systems that impose upon us their own definitions of what we should be: systems enacted by our parents, our school, our friends, our society. We gradually adopt certain preferences of conduct encompassing all dimensions of human life that define us but are not really ours. We don’t really own ourselves, own our life at that stage.
These preferences of course evolve as we mature, encounter shocks, make mistakes, hit jackpots etc. The constant flow of our interactions with the world at large continue to “sculpt” us. We are really a continuous work in progress, chiseled mostly when events occur of sufficient turbulence (positive or negative) as to “change” us, change the definition of ourselves.
There are two points I think should be made:
1. It is critically important that we seek to “own” our definition, own ourselves, own our life, i.e. that we shed the preferences that we have inherited or that have been imposed upon us, and that we adopt our own definitions, that we revisit our choices in light of the being we are or want to be. We must remain open, embrace dynamic changes and others, reject any entitlements we believe are owed to us but in fact constrain us to a fixed, stale model. No sacred cows!! Only then, will we update our self definition to time and others. It cannot happen until many years have forged a deep level of understanding and discernment. But, hopefully it does happen one day. At least, it should be a guiding star.
2. We really make choices when we have to make them, i.e. when we are forced to abandon our comfort-zone-routine and face our failings, often because of the hurt we experience and try to reduce. Without hurt, chances are we never make necessary and voluntary changes, and truly own ourselves. A pity, yet the only true source of renewed strength.
PS 1: Everyone of course chooses the kind of journey it seeks to achieve fulfillment in life. As to me, I now believe that only by opening myself to all will I truly own my life. In order to make the right choices, I need to keep in tune with all aspirations. To hear others’ confidences, I must earn their trust as they expose themselves. That can only be done in a mutual process, where I also expose myself.
PS 2: As I seek communality, I recognize myself in others, as much as I appreciate my differences. I try to reconcile these differences either through time translation or moral equivalency. The fact is while two different individuals can never “feel” exactly the same at the same point of time, there is a high likelihood that they will “feel” the same at different times of their respective lives, some while younger, others while older. That is what I mean by being the same by time translation.