The Myth of Finding Yourself

The Myth of Finding Yourself

Can we ever truly know who we are?

“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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11 Beautiful Japanese Words That Don't Exist In English

Untranslatable words from Japan, the polite and nature-loving country.

Once, when I asked my friend from a small tribe in Burma how they would say “breakfast” there, she told me that they didn’t have a word for it because they only ate twice a day--lunch and dinner. I happen to have a lot of friends who speak English as their second language and that made me realize that a language has a lot to do with its culture’s uniqueness. Because of that, there are some untranslatable words.

In Japanese culture, people have a lot of appreciation towards nature and it is very important to be polite towards others. That politeness and the nature appreciation reflected on to its language and created some beautiful words that are not translatable to English.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things Everyone Who Leaves Japan Misses

いただきます Itadakimasu

"Itadakimasu" means “I will have this.” It is used before eating any food to express appreciation and respect for life, nature, the person who prepared the food, the person who served the food, and everything else that is related to eating.

おつかれさま Otsukaresama

"Otsukaresama" means “you’re tired.” It is used to let someone know that you recognize his/her hard work and that you are thankful for it.

木漏れ日 Komorebi

"Komorebi" refers to the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees.

木枯らし Kogarashi

"Kogarashi" is the cold wind that lets us know of the arrival of winter.

物の哀れ Mononoaware

"Monoaware" is "the pathos of things." It is the awareness of the impermanence of all things and the gentle sadness and wistfulness at their passing.

森林浴 Shinrinyoku

“Shinrinyoku” ("forest bathing") is to go deep into the woods where everything is silent and peaceful for a relaxation.

幽玄 Yuugen

"Yuugen" is an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses that are too mysterious and deep for words.

しょうがない Shoganai

The literal meaning of "Shoganai" is “it cannot be helped.” However, it is not discouraging or despairing. It means to accept that something was out of your control. It encourages people to realize that it wasn’t their fault and to move on with no regret.

金継ぎ/金繕い kintsuki/kintsukuroi

"Kintsukuroi" is the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver joining the pieces and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

わびさび Wabi-sabi

"Wabi-sabi" refers to a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and peacefully accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.

擬音語 All the onomatopoeia

English has onomatopoeia, but Japanese has far more. For example, we have “om-nom-nom” for eating and they have “paku-paku” for eating normally, “baku-baku” for eating wildly, “gatsu-gatsu” for eating fast, “mogu-mogu” for chewing a lot, etc. Doesn’t it make your head spin? The onomatopoeia for that kind of dizziness is “kurukuru” by the way. The image above is showing some of those onomatopoeia. As you can see, Japanese onomatopoeia is usually a repetitive sound. Although it might be a very difficult concept to understand, it adds a melody and an emotional meaning to a word. Japanese sounds poetic because of the onomatopoeia.

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'The Farewell' Brings An Asian-American Narrative To Hollywood

I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.


The trailer for Lulu Wang's "The Farewell" was recently released. The film, based on Wang's own experience, stars Awkwafina as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who travels to China after learning her grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. "The Farewell" initially debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January, and currently holds a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

"The Farewell" is an exciting film for members of the Asian-American community, as it encompasses many of our own experiences in having family overseas. Having this Asian-American narrative portrayed in Hollywood is especially groundbreaking and important to the community. "Crazy Rich Asians" has received much well-deserved acclaim for its leap in Asian representation, but the film did not necessarily depict a completely relatable experience and was only one story out of many in the Asian-American community. There were aspects of the characters' cultures that allowed the Asian-American audience to connect with much of the film, but the upper-class narrative wasn't quite as accessible to everyone.

While "Crazy Rich Asians" portrays Asians in a way that is very much uncommon in Hollywood and American media in general and had a hand in helping to break stereotypes, "The Farewell" introduces a nearly universal first-generation American or immigrant narrative to Hollywood. In doing so, the film allows many members of the Asian-American community to truly see their own experiences and their own stories on the screen.

For me, the trailer alone was enough to make me tear up, and I've seen many other Asian Americans share a similar experience in seeing the trailer. The film reminds us of our own families, whether it's our grandparents or any other family living overseas. I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.

"The Farewell," which is scheduled for release on July 12, 2019, depicts a family dynamic in the Asian-American experience that hits home for many, including myself. The initial critical response, especially towards Awkwafina's performance, is certainly promising and will hopefully motivate more Asian-American and other minority filmmakers to bring their own stories to Hollywood.


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