Dear No One,
When I was in my forelast year of high school, my English teacher professed that she wished she could just give me my diploma, so that I could go to university and be myself, freely.
Three years later, I’m in my second year of university and know less about the person that I am than ever before. Being myself? I don’t know what that means.
I am made up of hundreds, thousands, if not millions of fragments. And although I was never fully under the illusion that I had each of those things figured out, I thought I knew at least some things. As it turns out, I don’t.
An example. Last weekend, I met a bunch of new people. We got to experience an exciting weekend together. We got to bond. We got to know each other. And as we did, it was – quite confidently – assumed that my favourite colour is pastel pink. It’s not, as I told them. My favourite colour is actually navy blue. But as I said it, I realised how comfortable I am wearing or seeing or using anything pastel pink. Even though the colour is associated with me, by me and by others, more than navy blue is, it’s the latter, not the former, that is my favourite colour.
And yet I’m wondering if it is.
Just a few hours later, favourite foods came up. I was quick to solidify my dislike for any popular pasta. I always go out of my way to not have to eat it. I couldn’t this last weekend, though, and had to eat the food I otherwise never eat. So I declared that I would eat the meal, even though I wasn’t excited for it. Even though I would never willingly choose this dish. Even though I’ve disliked the taste of pasta for years.
And yet I’m wondering if I have.
A few hours later again, I explained that I usually don’t actually attend parties like the one I was attending at that time. I painted myself as someone who’s uncomfortable at crowded social events, especially when it’s late, loud, and lengthy. So yes, even though I will admit to having had some fun, I did not enjoy the entire party.
And yet I’m wondering if I did.
Being myself? I don’t know where to start.
Now that I’ve put these thoughts into words I almost have to laugh. It sounds so trivial, to worry about my favourite colour, to worry about whether or not I like pasta, and to worry about how I enjoyed that one party. And yet it’s exactly these small things, unbeknownst to me, that freak me out. Because if I can barely decide on whether or not I like this pigment or dish, or even social events then how am I supposed to ever know how to live my life? How am I supposed to be myself, freely? Do I really even know myself?
Someone called me a happy person this weekend. Said that I seemed like the type who’s always positive, always happy, always smiling. The description does not feel right. It’s not how I would describe myself. But if that’s how I’m perceived, without my own conscience influencing it, without me putting on a show, then who am I to say that that’s not who I am?
Every time someone describes me in a way that I would never describe myself, I freak out, unsure of who is right and who is wrong. Yet the moment I feel predictable, and people comment “yeah, that’s so you”, I put everything in motion to prove them wrong. It seems that no matter whether others agree or disagree with what I do, what I like, or how I act, it’s not right. Being myself? I don’t know how.
Just a few days ago, I passed that same English teacher in the hallways of my high school. “How are you?” she asked. “I’m fine,” I replied. And that’s all I am. Fine. I’m no longer a morning person. I’m also not a night owl. I’m still not comfortable socialising. But I’m also not cancelling every social appointment. I’m not energetic, not bubbly, not shy. Myself? I don’t know who that is. I don’t know who I am.
So I cannot offer you any advice on finding yourself. I cannot offer you advice on establishing yourself. And I certainly cannot offer you advice on being yourself.
But even though I don’t know who I am, I do know that I’m fine. And maybe that’s all that matters.
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