Growing up we were all told that we have qualities, traits, and a personality type that is unique to us. Often times this leads us to believe that we will be forever confined to that personality type, unable to change or be a different version of ourselves.
I was always told that I was an introvert and that led my family to treat me in a way that implied that I would always be quiet and shy, that I would always be timid and an introvert, that I would never be outgoing, adventurous, and brave. Society, school, our parents tell us these stories about who we are and it limits who we can be. “Oh I could never be popular and be the center of attention, because I’m an introvert” is something I truly believed.
But the reality is, there is no permanent core to who we are. There is no “real you” in a sense. Who you think you are is based upon the experiences, the upbringing, and the influences you have had, and your memory of all of that. Yet our memory is flawed. We selectively remember certain things about ourselves. We remember things differently and memories decay. We construct a narrative about ourselves and we tell ourselves a story about who we are.
That story isn’t you. There isn’t a part of you that is non-changing. There is no essence or core to who you are. Think of a waterfall. Nothing about the waterfall is permanent. In each second the water that comprises that waterfall is new and different, it is ever-changing.
The Liberating Truth About Yourself
We are like that waterfall. We are fluid and ever-changing. In each moment you are a new and different person. This means that you are not confined to staying the same. You don’t have to follow a certain story or relegate yourself to a specific identity. This means that you can create yourself and you can redefine yourself. You can change who you are and shape yourself into something of your design.
The fact that we are ever-changing also means that the actions we take every single day are incredibly important, because if we are taking actions that are antithetical to what we want out of life or to who we truly want to be, then we are molding ourselves into a person that we don’t want to be. This means that if we aren’t proactively shaping ourselves, then influences outside of our control will be shaping us, and not for the better. So this literally means that if you aren’t taking daily actions that are aligned with your purpose, then you are regressing and transforming into someone you don’t actually want to be.
We can shape ourselves. We don’t have to be confined to what society or what our parents have told us we are. We can be drastically different than what we’ve been most of our lives. This is incredibly liberating and empowering, and it means that there is no excuse for you to not be putting your best effort into living your best life. It’s not so much a “discovering yourself” as it is a “creating yourself.” Put in time and energy into identifying who you want to be and how you want to live. From there you can determine what the daily actions are that you need to take in order to shape and design yourself into the exact person that you want to be.
“Well-makers lead the water (wherever they like); fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves.” - Gautama Buddha