This is a question I ask myself almost every day. I am in the seemingly-never-ending quest for self awareness. I am self-conscious, but not in the usual sense of the word. I am normally quite self-confident, except when it comes to a few things like speaking foreign languages (I’m really trying to get over that one). Sometimes I am too confident and it hurts me; then I retreat for a few days of embarrassment and reflection before emerging again as Amber. Sometimes I get too comfortable in “me” and forget that as the world is changing so am I, so I need to look back inside again to see who I really am. Almost every time I do this soul-search I learn something new… something that I would have never expected to be there. When I look back at the decisions I made throughout my childhood and teenage years as a supposed manifestation of self, I remember feeling like I was doing the right thing, and there could be no other possible action that could be “righter” or more suited to me. Yet as a grow older I think about what could have been done to better fit me, what could have been thought, what more learning I had to do. This makes me realize that I what I think now to be true, in twenty years could be a misrepresentation of my values.
Throughout my teenage years I regularly would read through old journal entries and destroy the parts that were no longer consistent with who I was or wanted to be. I wanted to be sure that if someone read them, they got an accurate portrayal of my current self. It was a bit egotistical some would say, but I wanted to be cautious. Instead of some people who could look back at old entries and laugh or reminisce, I was extremely embarrassed at how silly I used to be. It was a competition with myself. I always want to be the best, the smartest, the most rational… I haven’t looked at those journals in years and perhaps when I visit my parents’ again I will throw them away, because I am still at competition with myself and I still try to portray myself in a certain way “just in case” someone reads them and thinks something of me that isn’t accurate.
Why am I so concerned about other people? So obsessed to the point of controlling my persona even in the most private of locked diaries? To some extent I still have the personality of my teenage counterpart. I release different parts of my thoughts depending on in which situation I am or with whom I am occupying my time. I won’t speak about my vegetarian adventures with my hunting father, nor speak to my veggie friends about the delicious pork chops I made. Is this a practice of concealing my identity or just understanding social rules? This is a question that will take more time to answer.
My self-criticism goes into overdrive when I move to a new area and must start over making friends. I like to challenge myself and try to become friends with people I really admire, even if that means really editing what I say and do in the beginning stages of the friendship. The problem is when I mistakenly “slip” a piece of my underlying self and face the rejection moment, I am left with a half-friend that I have annoyed. Instead when I easily fall into friendships with people that I can be “myself” with immediately, I become too complacent and often take advantage of the relationship or let it go astray. Why do I need this constant challenge? Why can’t I just let myself have a carefree life and focus my energies on my career or art? This question will probably take even longer to solve than the former.
The point is, I am closer to finding myself now than I have ever been, and I will say the same thing tomorrow. The more questions I find, the closer I am. Although the questions appear to make a person go crazy, I feel great when I raise a new question about myself, because I get another mission. I think many people are afraid to get older but I am really excited to find out who I really am.