Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. – Aristotle
Well said, Mr Aristotle, but somehow the older I get, the less I know. As we grow old and change physically and mentally, it can be challenging to align our self-perception with our true identity. To add to this the world is constantly bombarding us with ideas of how to live our life (“If you want to live a fulfilling life, you must first know who you truly are” slogans are everywhere online), so it’s almost impossible to find your authentic self even if you were looking for it.
So in my mind, it all comes to three main points (subject to change of course as I am getting older every single day).
You are what people want you to be
You are what people want you to be, as you are a reflection of others’ views and beliefs. You grow up, you read books, you watch the news, you learn from your teachers and your parents and you are shaped by what they think to be right or wrong, good or bad. Teachers and parents give you the questions but they also give you the answers.
Don’t take it the wrong way as the knowledge your parents give you comes from love and desire for you to succeed in life.
You are what the world around you want you to be.
The country/city/suburb in which you’re born and raised definitely has a great influence over the way you think and feel. It’s also influential in the formation of your self-concept. It’s not so much that there is a ‘national’ way of being, but rather that each country has certain predominant features, values, climate and natural resources to name the few.
You may think big but you could also think small. For example, birth order affects your personality, genetics affect your personality or even your neighbours – rich or poor, dog lovers or horse lovers can have an influence on how you see the world around you.
You are what you make yourself to be
You are what you make yourself to be because as you go through life you adapt (or you don’t) to everything material or spiritual surrounding you. You decide whether to obey or break the rules. You decide whether to obey the rules today and break them tomorrow. Or break the rules today and rewrite them tomorrow.
Which brings me back to the main question: Who is the real you?
The short answer is: The real you, is You.
The real you has many shapes and forms.
The real you is that kid that smiles back at you from that old high school picture but also the tired, sad-looking person that looks back at you in the mirror every single morning.
The real you is the person who helps an elderly lady to cross the road but also the person who shouts at elderly drivers when they are driving their cars slowly on the road.
The real you is the person who hated his parent’s advice in his teenage years but also the person who is now giving the same advice to his kids.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”, Aristotle said a long time ago but knowing yourself appears not to be an easy job.