Who are we? Everybody has a different answer to that question but there’s no REAL answer, in my opinion. At any given time, the person we are, is the person we want to be – or worse yet, the person we THINK we are. We’re ever changing and evolving. So I really don’t think we can summarize “who we are” in any given amount of words.
“Who we are is a habit of what we do.”
Ergo we are our actions. But our actions are dependent on our situation and the stimuli generating the actions. If that was the case, “who we are” would change an innumerable number of times throughout the day. I don’t think we are a result, nor are the beings formulated by our actions. You can be a quiet and loving father at home, a ferocious cut throat at the office and a yoga instructor who tells his class to be vegan yet eats meat all at the same time. But that would mean based on their actions, that person in not one but multiple people.
We’re often told “a cheetah can’t change its spots” and how far from the truth that is. Personally I think that’s a terrible analogy for change as the whole saying is based on the outward appearance of the animal. If change was in fact impossible, what would be the use of correctional facilities, disciplinary action at school or rehab for addicts? So surely we’re all doomed to be our mistakes based on that saying and we should give up trying to help those who have faltered in any way. A person will be who they want to be – regardless of what anybody says or does. They might react completely differently to how they usually would, but that doesn’t mean they are a different person. I am by no means saying this is acceptable, it is merely an example – but if an abusive and alcoholic father gave up drinking and sought to mend relationships he had ruined, surely he should be judged on his current actions, and this means current being an ongoing thing. Not just a phase in which a person is going through.
I think we all have traits that reign supreme in our day to day lives but that isn’t who we are. Not at the core of it. “He’s such an aggressive person.” – the individual being spoken about has been labeled aggressive and so that is how he is defined and referred to as. He might be a very gentle person prone to aggression? But in society, no – he IS aggressive. This is just an example. Anytime we have ever labeled a person is a slap in the face to them and their being. That label MIGHT be a trait, but it is NOT who they are. These traits are dominant and are often highlighted in cases of stress or anger or any other time they are made to feel an emotion.
“She’s such a whore.”
“He’s such a snob.”
“She’s so annoying.”
Another case of labeling is based on someone’s profession. We are not necessarily the work we do. A doctor is an individual. He has many other traits, but chances are, if someone is speaking about them, it will most likely be that they are referred to as “So and so The Doctor.”
This is the case in any profession. Not just something positive like someone who saves lives and helps people.
“He’s a drug dealer.” Okay yes, he sells drugs. But he’s also an artist and paints beautifully. Is he going to be referred to as an artist? Probably not.
Quite possibly the worst place we are told who we are is at school.
“She’s not as smart as the other girls.”
“He’s a poor student. He can’t afford a car.”
“You’re not as fast as Johnny over there.”
At such a young age, we as a people are separated into classes based on who gets better grades. And this defines us. It means – “You’re really smart!” or on the other side of the fence “You’re a pretty stupid kid.” Now I don’t particularly believe in all things being equal, that’s not how life is. But to be labeled and KNOWN as things that are otherwise degrading and can have a severe and devastatingly lasting effect on kids is surely a bad thing? But that’s not how we see it.
“Just work harder.”
That’s what we’re told regardless of the situation.
You didn’t make the rugby team? Try harder.
Came last in class? Try harder.
Now I’m not saying that perhaps these people shouldn’t try harder, not at all. But some people just aren’t made for some things, so why judge them based on things deemed “normal”?
The era of social media hasn’t made this any better in my opinion. Almost everyone is doing what they can to reach more of an audience. Get more followers, more likes, more exposure, more acceptance and acknowledgement from people we don’t even know or particularly care about half the time. People can build careers around social media – selling products, services or even themselves. As a singer of this very generation has so perfectly said about this topic – “Checking instagram comments to crowdsource my self esteem.”
That rings so true it’s scary. We post to validate and confirm ourselves. We are the multiple facades we display on the various social and yet, a lot of people use social media as a front. A lie. So people perceive them as rich, artsy, gothic, whatever it may be. Social media is used and abused by the masses to whatever means to an end they want it to be. So to further highlight this point, we are in this sense – but the true versions of ourselves and simultaneously a lie. It depends who’s looking at it.
So it’s quite paradoxical. We’re both nothing and almost everything at the same time. We are individuals. But we are also our actions, our habits, our thinking, our speaking, our likes, our dislikes- but at the same time, we’re none of those things. I mean, they describe us, they don’t necessarily define us.