Who am I? Who are they? But more importantly, who are you?
If you were a fictional book character, I would start by describing the colour of your hair and your eyes, comparing them to the sky and the clouds or to the mountains and the sun. I would talk about how you spend your Friday nights curled up on your bed re-reading Harry Potter or maybe you call over some friends and have dinner together or maybe you prefer to have a wild night of drunken escapades or maybe…
But of course to truly understand you, I need more than the knowledge of how you spend your weekends. Do you become restless when someone doesn’t close the door when they leave? Does it physically ache you when someone talks over you or when everyone sing happy birthday to you and you don’t know where to keep your hands?
It may not feel like it but it is these little things that tie together your favourite hobbies, subjects, activities and ideas into a personality that is perfectly exclusive. You might be very similar to somebody else and when I talk to you, you might even remind me of that someone else, but no matter how hard you try, you and they will never be exactly the same. So why bother? Why not just own the fact that you are a unique blend that will never be recreated in all of time and space ever again?
There are so many levels to you that you’ve never even considered. You might have tried of course because I know I have. You could define yourself into one of the limited categories that you find on the internet and fifteen people around you would disagree by saying that you just almost fit in because technically you don’t conform to a few of the rules of the category. At which point you would try to explain yourself as a mix of this and that group. My point here is that you don’t need to be classified as an extrovert or an introvert or on the basis of your horoscope just so you can be assured of where you stand in society. In fact, to understand yourself, you don’t need words at all because you already know. If I ask you to tell me exactly how you would respond in a hypothetical situation, you might not be able to answer correctly but when tomorrow comes and you are faced with the choice, whatever you choose will feel natural. You are not a stranger to yourself.
Now what do you do once you know who you are?
You don’t get shocked into a biblical revelation and wake up one day with all the answers. You simply accept that the person you’ve known all along and the person you show to the outside world are the same people. Some of you might feel uncomfortable with your real self for some inexplicable reason because you don’t fit into the social norm. This could be because you feel shy about how you family and friends and neighbours will react and you are afraid of their criticism. Or maybe you feel like there is no one in the whole, wide world who will ever empathise with you.
You know who you are but you are not ready for the rest of the world to know, so you feel it’s safer if you pretend to be someone else.
I am not telling you this in a faux attempt to get you to throw all caution to the wind and reveal everything about yourself. There are around 7.8 billion people on our Earth and for every person that feels threatened or disgusted by you, there is another who appreciates, admires and respects you. If you are a vegan, some people might feel obligated to inform you that you are being insensible and pretentious, while many others would like to applaud your sympathy for animals around you. For every person that considers you narrow minded for being religious, there’s a multitude who values your ability to have faith in a higher power and use this faith to be an optimist. If you are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, there are many who feel offended but at the same time, you have so many people who are in awe of your courage to pursue the one you love. If you are an activist, there are people who might feel like you are a disruptive influence but the countless changes you fight to bring about are helping to improve the lives of many more. Of course you don’t have to be dramatically different so even if you are none of the above, there is something about you that you feel insecure about.
There are people in this world that will make you feel better about yourself and others that will pull you down. Those opinions will in some way affect you, even when you tell yourself that your life is your own and you cannot please everybody. What anyone can really do, is to be confident and secure in the fact that who they are isn’t something they need to change but in fact work on to be someone that they accept before the others do.
I am me. They are them. And most importantly, you are you.