Have you ever felt as if your entire life you have been trying to be just the perfect individual, or say the perfect thing in every situation, or be this example of human being that you have believed all your life to be what people expect you to be? Have you ever tried to live your life based on old beliefs of success the way they are laid out in front of you by the existing norm? Well, you are not alone.
All my life I have not done what others seemed to expect from me, but then, I lived with the dissatisfaction that somehow I wasn’t following the correct path everyone seemed to do so well. The great surprise in my case came early in my life because I realized that everyone seemed to be criticizing each other and trying to pretend they were doing the very things that had been told to them, but in reality they were also living a double life where their desires and motivations fell short in face of the pre-established patterns that they had to follow; a pattern that had never actually proved to be the perfect formula for personal success and happiness. Big wake-up call!
We are born without beliefs. We simply have no awareness of what it means to be a woman or a man, or what nationality we have, or what ethnic background we belong to. As we grow up we learn how to behave within the social context of our parents, family and friends. That’s where the conflict starts. We all want to be free and act according to our own motivations, talents, inclinations and desires. When those drives are in accordance with the main social ideology our family subscribes to, and that we tend to feel comfortable navigating through, the course of our lives flows in a relatively smooth way. However, when we see life in a way that questions and differs from those around us, that’s when the road gets bumpy.
In our times the emphasis on expressing yourself and having your own identity is so intensely advertised that sounds mawkish and ridiculous. Companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are shrewdly cashing in on the philosophy of “be yourself”.
Identities are malleable and easily created. Our culture shapes the identities that will generate powerful consumers. We also have our own set of identities which we have created during the course of our lives and that were influenced by fear, trauma, need for acceptance and other general belief systems. I know, the picture seems quite grim when we observe that our lives, and what we think, are dictated by something beyond our control. It is rather depressing to think that the concept of freedom is a far cry from our dreams and ideals of being unique and expressing ourselves genuinely.
Can we sincerely answer to the ultimate question? If someone asks you: “Who are you?”- can we sincerely be honest enough to let them know who we are? Do we know who we are? What motivates us? Are we sure about anything at all, or are we simply an undistinguished mass of unknown motivations? It is my understanding through constant observation of my own self that we act as we go along with our ever-changing stories. The choices we make shape and pave the way ahead of us.
Every minute we are faced with choices. Sometimes it is difficult to make a choice when we are experiencing intense emotions and emotional drives. Our subconscious world is still a vast unmapped territory that will unleash unexpected parts of our personalities we have never been aware of. It is there, however. And, at critical moments, we experience this overwhelming power testing us out and building our character.
It is important to stay true to what we believe while keeping an open mind to accept other people’s beliefs, opinions and lifestyles without intransigence, but also without compromising our own truth. Dealing with our own drives and desires is also challenging because we need to accommodate our inner world with the objectivity of the implications of our choices in real-life situations.
When we are confronted with real situations that’s when we have the opportunity to let our true selves come to the fore. Our unaltered true nature will be able to reveal itself when there is space for the forces of desire stemming from the egoist part of our personalities subside in face of what path we would like for us. Eventually we will be able to determine the exact moment when those choices are available to us at the time that they will actually make a difference for our own improvement and happiness.
In a world that is constantly pushing everyone to be themselves, when can one actually determine that they are exercising their free will and not putting into practice the dictates of the dominant ideology subliminally inserted into positive messages of self-improvement? The answer should be found inside ourselves. We ought to be the light that will guide our own paths, and ultimately find the way that will bring us happiness while having an attitude of respect and compassion for our struggles as well as of those around us.