The Myth of Finding Yourself

The Myth of Finding Yourself

Can we ever truly know who we are?
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“College is the time to find yourself.” It’s a phrase we have all heard time and time again, whether it be from movies or from the people around us. We are told all through high school that college was a magical time in our lives in which we would find out who we really were. And yet as my time as a college student draws to a close, I am no closer to knowing who I am than I was four years ago. What does finding yourself even mean? How do we know who we truly are?

We live in a society dependent on labels. Whenever we encounter a new person, we immediately give them a list of stereotypes in order to classify them. Often we think of these in binaries, assigning this stranger one extreme or another. Are they nerdy or sporty? Artsy or logical? Sexy or smart? Shy or outgoing? We use these labels to evaluate how we should steer the conversation. I recently participated in an experiment in class where we went up to strangers and recorded the questions we asked ourselves during our first interaction. It was shocking to find out how many labels I assigned to each new person, without any validity following them. Over and over again I asked myself what version of myself I could present in order for them to like me. I made assumptions about who they were and then shifted myself to fit what I assumed they liked. And at the end of the experiment, it was found that almost everyone else did the same thing. We are dependent on these labels for others to build relationships, but how can we build relationships with people we boil down to one or two stereotypes? And how can we fit a human’s essence into a few phrases or descriptors?

I think the idea that you can “find yourself”, or define your essence into a neat description, is impossible. We are all creatures who shift throughout the years, throughout the contexts of life, and throughout our experiences. No one is so steadfast in the way they act and believe that their worldview cannot be altered. We are all such complex beings, no one is just what they appear to be on the surface. And in order to create meaningful connections, we must be willing to take the time to ask people questions about themselves, because that is the closest thing to knowing someone’s “true self” that we can get to.

I think these questions are also the closest we can get to finding ourselves. Who we are is not what we are wearing or what we look like. It has nothing to do with our major or our plans after school. Who we are is what we are passionate about, what we believe in. And these four years, I have come closer to finding that out. It may be completely different in another for years, and that is okay. We deserve more than being put into a neat little box of faux descriptors. Instead, we should accept the freedom to alter ourselves, and know that who we are is whoever we choose to be.

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17 Signs You Grew Up Irish

Irish and proud!
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With a name like Shannon Elizabeth Ryan many people right away sarcastically ask the question "you're not Irish are you?" I always laugh and jokingly say nope not at all. I'm extremely proud of my Irish heritage, but what does it mean to be Irish?

Here are 17 signs you grew up Irish:

1. You have a distinct Irish name: first or last

Shannon, Elizabeth, Michael, Patrick, Sean, James, Ryan, Riley, Mahony, Murphy. Extra points if your last name begins with O', Mac or Mc.

2. You have been called a "potato head" or towhead as a child

Shannon Ryan

"What a bunch or potato heads!" Meaning you were really Irish or really blonde or both.

3. You were raised Catholic

Shannon Ryan

Catholic school, mass every Sunday. Oh and you were most likely an alter server or in the choir and can say the mass forward and backwards.

4. You have a love for potatoes of any kind.

Also, you may have read this book about a potato as a child.

5. You've been told, "Oh, you're Irish, you can hold your drinks."

Giphy

I mean it's in your blood, right?

6. Funeral, wedding, birthday you really can't tell the difference

Wedding? Get the whiskey. Oh, you said funeral?

... get the whiskey.

7. You know old Irish Songs and sing along with every note

"The Streets of New York," "Black Velvet Band," "Wild Rover," "Molly Malone," "Galway Girl," "Danny Boy," tell me ma all songs I remember being singing along with as a kid.

8. Your favorite holiday is St. Patrick's Day and you go all out

A day to show the world that there are only two types of people in the world: those who are Irish and those that wish they were.

9. You own a Celtic cross, Claddagh ring or any Irish knot jewelry and wear it often

You were most likely given that Celtic cross when you were born and got one for your First Holy Communion. The Claddagh was given by someone who loves you and Irish knots you can never go wrong with.

10. Two words: "soda" and "bread"

Some don't know that the cross made on the top of bread is to keep the devil away and protect the house.

11. You have a HUGE family and the parties and reunions that go along with it are just as big

My family is enormous and this is only half of it and I still don't know everyone.

12. There is no such thing as tanning

Unless you ware one of the blessed ones who do tan I'm extremely jealous. For the rest of us, we have two options pale or red there is no in-between.

13. You may not have the cleanest mouth or quietest voice

But you would never dare say a bad word in front of someone older than you. As for an indoor voice, it's non-existent.

14. You can successfully pull off an “Irish Exit" and then have to explain to your friends the next day what exactly that is when they ask where you went

Basically means you leave the party without anyone knowing.

15. At one point in your life, you've said, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" if something went wrong

I heard this a lot growing up and I catch myself saying it every now and again.

16. The only college football team you root for is Notre Dame

I mean is there any other, Let's Go Fighting Irish!

17. Lastly, you are extremely proud of your Irish heritage

We are Irish. We are taught to be strong, have faith in God and learn how to party and have fun. Erin Go Bragh!

Cover Image Credit: kingofwallpapers.com

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Remaining Optimistic In A Cloudy World Is Difficult, Yet So Imporant

We tend to take the biggest hits at ourselves rather than those who may be slandering us much worse.

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We are all constantly going through something and we can hide it all we want, but it's present. There are so many difficulties that life brings to the table and we try to push those away and focus on the things that we can control. With those trials and tribulations, we are presented with challenges that test us on multiple levels. It's so simple to beat yourself up about the things that may be negatively occurring in your life over and over. We tend to take the biggest hits at ourselves rather than those who may be slandering us much worse. We cloud our minds and our bodies with the negativity that we take from the world rather than the great things that we accomplish daily.

As life is difficult and situations may bring out the best and the worst in us, we need to see more of the positivity in the world and allow ourselves to bring that light into the world. At the moment there is so much darkness but the light that we project is so crucial in order to create the world that we aspire to see. It's so simple to think of what's wrong the world and what needs to be changed but it truly does start with the way that we think as well as how we perceive the world ourselves. There is a truth with the reality of the space around us, but there is a perception that comes with it.

Even just changing the way that we think about one thing during the day from negative to positive, we could allow so much more light into our lives. By lightening a perspective or thinking of a way to see something different, a simple decision could leave so much more of a positive impact on someone's life. We are all here for each other at the end of the day, and the more kindness that we let out, the more that we can gain from one another. At a younger age hearing "What you put out into the world is what you receive" was a foreign phrase to me, but over time I realized the importance of the full circle that we live in.

Everything goes around in a circle, relationships, friendships, thoughts, and perspectives. We allow these to frame our thoughts and lives due to the importance that they hold in the world. The more that we care and listen to others, it'll become simpler to adjust our own framework to personalize and emphasize our feelings and what we want to personally put in the world. It's so difficult to see such a negative world and wanting to create a light yet not know how. So remember that it starts with you and everything you say and do will always have the ability to create happiness and kindness around the world. As life gets hard, keep holding on to what you believe in and you'll see that it'll frame the world around you.

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow."
— Helen Keller

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