Archive for January 26th, 2008

Define It, Then Be It

Seems my “what I know about me” posts could continue ad nauseum.  This is less about what I know about me and more about my perspective on how we become who we are.

What defines us as individuals? Work? Life experiences? Friendships? Parents? Hard knocks? Luck? How do we roll up all the things that happen to us from the time we’re toddling to the time we’re mature adults (and by mature I mean 30-ish, done with tramping around a campus, through a first and maybe a second job – you know…experienced in life more than just a little). Because let’s face it, 20 is not mature. Hell, for many people, 30 is still childhood.

For years and years, I struggled with what I was all about. There I was, an average guy growing up in rural America. Average intelligence, average height and weight, average job, average middle-class home. Where was the nugget in all that I was in my 20s and 30s that made me who I am today?

After a couple decades of gaining life experience (and it hasn’t ended, but I’m now self-qualified and savvy enough to address this notion) in some Hemingway-ian fashion I found a way to live my life my way. Getting there was no easy chore. In fact it was unpleasant and resulted in aches and pains placed on others whom I had no intention of hurting but they were hurt in the wake of self discovery that I created. I’ve apologized profusely for that defining period in my life in which I became self centered, but had I not acted upon filling the empty inside – that thirst for knowing who I am – I’d still be wallowing in a world of average.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d never profess to be anything but average (maybe slightly above), any more than I was 10 years ago. But I’m rich now. Rich in knowing what defines me…and I can live with me.  I’m really NOT a bad guy. Confidence, understanding, and an ability to observe, listen, assess, and remain open to opinions. Ahhh…the ability to hear people express their opinions and not judge them based on that. (How novel considering that from the time we’re born we’re told what to be, how to behave, how to react, what not to do. No. No. No. NO. NOOO!!! We form our young adult ideals based on lectures, textbooks and pre-disposed notions of others – family members, friends, teachers, mentors – who used their own definitions of themselves to define us. How could they? How dare they!!!)

Woah, major digression there.

Defining and being oneself is all about facing those harbored fears and weaknesses, and ultimately saying, “fuck that. No longer will I allow myself to be tied to the limiting range of that 20 watt lightbulb that I’ve allowed myself to feel comfortable with all those years.”

Shatter the bulb, people. Replace it with a megawatt bulb that will cast light in all the far corners of your world. A light so blinding that it guides you right past your worst fear and weakness and into a world that is yours for the changing or taking, if you’re so inclined. That new light? It’s inside each of us from day one. But until we define ourselves and live our way, the light can’t function…it can’t fill our lives the way we desire to be filled.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  ~e.e. cummings



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