THURSDAY, 1 APRIL 2004
The first two decades of our lives we spend trapped in environments where to a significant extent we are what we are supposed to be (or where the expectation is that we will be what we are supposed to be). The idea is that when we move away from this environment we will ask certain questions. In the process of formulating answers, we will find or define who we “truly” are, or who we want to be – although realistically speaking who and what we can possibly be has already strongly been influenced by who we are supposed to be and what is expected from us.
In many cases, who and what we are supposed to be, with a splash of paint here and there to make ourselves unique to some extent, is good enough, and this identity is then presented as an answer to who we are.
In other cases, individuals enter a time of personal crisis when they realise what they are supposed to be is not consistent with what they have discovered about themselves, or that it is not who or what they want to be. Changes must then necessarily be made, even if it sometimes requires years of uncertainty and intense introspection. In the ideal scenario, these individuals will be able to reappear to the world after a period of so-called identity crisis, albeit this time with a few changes to their personality and/or appearance.
This “new” person will always be constructed on the foundation of the “old” person – early experiences, both positive and negative, are usually already too intimately woven into the psyche of the person to simply reject it as “no longer applicable”. Certain characteristics of the “old” person may still be in tact; but even if certain aspects of personality are retained, the “owner” of these characteristics will now claim them as their own and not simply as the result of pressure that had been put on them in their formative years to manipulate them to be what they were supposed to be.
It is also said that the person who has found or defined his or her “own self”, has become their “own person”. How much of this “self” is really your own, remains of course an open question.
SATURDAY, 3 APRIL 2004
It is really impressive how we sometimes make caricatures of people with whom we regularly share our lives so they can be puppets in our own world. Well, we all do it, so no one complains too much about it. (Again a matter of mutual agreement: “I won’t point it out if you do it as long as you don’t point it out when I do it.”)
But when we see someone expects a certain “act” from us, or expect us to be some or other character and this does not correspond with how we feel at that moment, or with how we would actually like to be seen, it can get a tad annoying. Or when it is expected of us to suppress certain aspects of our personality for the sake of being what we are supposed to be in the other person’s view of us – as in, “Be a good friend now and play yourself right, okay?”
The question could also be asked how many people actually know their own nuances. And how many people depend on their friends’ characterisation of them to know who they are and to know how they should act?