Who you are doesn’t matter
It doesn’t matter who you are
We all have those moments in life.
‘Who am I?’
People are so quick to try and self-analyse. Why do I lack confidence? Why am I afraid to speak in public? Why do I have such negative thoughts? Why do I struggle to concentrate? Why don’t I know what I should be doing in my life?
People are always saying how important it is to love yourself, to believe in yourself. But how can you possibly love yourself if you don’t know who you is?
More and more people are being diagnosed each year with mental illnesses and we are becoming very quick to try and label personality traits with names that give us excuses for our behaviour. For some people it’s not an excuse; it’s hope, however for too many people it’s just a way of trying to put the parts of themselves they don’t like in a box. Once armed with a detailed breakdown of their personality, they then set about trying to work out why they ended up so fucked up?
So we look to our parents. We begin to trawl back through the childhood memories. To the arguments, the days you were forgotten about, the night dad didn’t come to your school play, the times your mother didn’t come home at all. Or maybe it was the divorce. Yes, that must be it.
But then, perhaps it isn’t my parents fault. Maybe it was because I was bullied at school.
We trawl back through our past like archeologists, searching for clues that will help us begin to understand the evolution of mind. At University we read Freud and Jung in the hope that they might help us decipher our dreams, our fears, our memories. We turn to Myers-Briggs hoping that she might hand us our personality type in writing [ENFJ if you were interested]. We think we’ve found the answers deep in a haze of drugs and alcohol only to wake up hating the conclusion and turning back to the drugs and alcohol to forget.
Once we have left University it only gets worse.
“I’m 23 and I still don’t know what the f**k I’m supposed to be doing with my life!…”
Upon entering your mid twenties you can no longer fight off adulthood and you find yourself faced by the inevitable society imposed checklist: build a career, save money, buy a house, have a family, get a dog. By this point most people have made themselves a label. Mine reads FREELANCE DESIGNER; because that’s what I studied and that’s the career path I will pursue. With the label comes a stereotype personality. Designer: proud creative. Doctor: intense rational. Engineer: detached perfectionist. Entrepeneur: inpatient egotist. But surely this is just what you do, and what you do does not define who you are right?
Who you are inside only matters because of what it makes you do.
Imagine yourself as an apple tree. ‘You’ are the roots of the tree. What you produce in life, your achievements, your successes; they are the apples that spring from the branches ripe and juicy. Over time these fruits fade into memories, falling to the ground and feeding the soil.
Whilst the sapling is young, the soil at it’s feet is vulnerable to the rain, the wind, the frost and the roots are exposed. Every day, every season it faces a new environment, new battles to fight, new challenges to overcome. And yet with perseverance, the roots find nutrients in the soil and the tree grows tall and the roots grow deeper reaching further and further out, finding new soil. And as the tree grows tall and produces leaves it protects the earth at it’s feet from the rain and the cold. The fruits that fall from it’s branches break down, returning to the soil and once again becoming part of the tree.
Some years the rain doesn’t come and the tree can only produce one or two fruits which are quick to wither and die, falling to the hard ground, rolling away in the harsh dry wind. But the tree holds firm, conserving it’s energy, relying on it’s deepest roots to search out for water. And with spring comes the rain and life blossoms once again with the promise of a successful summer.
You can’t see the roots of a tree, but you know they are there; a hidden extension of yourself without which you could not live. But the mistake is in trying desperately to know exactly what they look like. If you dig too deep you rip away everything that keeps you grounded. But you do not need to see. When you look at a tree you can tell by looking above ground what it is surely like below. There has never been an strong apple laden tree fuelled solely by a single thin root.
I don’t write blog posts to give advice or tell anyone what they are doing wrong. However these are more words of wisdom for myself than anything else.
The only thing between who you are and who you want to become is what you do.
- Don’t live in a greenhouse feeding off chemical food and artificial sunlight only to produce tasteless fruit that is at once taken from you for another’s gain. Instead plant yourself on the side of a hill. Hold strong against the wind and the rain. Be brave in the face of landslides. For the view will be incredible and though the fruits of your hard work may come less often, they will taste so much sweeter.
- Spread your roots deep and wide. Fill your life with experiences as this will enable you to grow as a person. Meet new people, go on adventures, put yourself in new situations. The effects will not be immediate, but the changes in you will be visible through what you produce. And it won’t always work. You may hit a brick wall, go through a toxic patch of earth, but just turn and move in another direction. If you stop moving the soil in which you are planted will one day have no more nourishment left to give. Keep going and you will have food enough for many lifetimes.
- Don’t hold on to your successes. Holding on to the fruit will only enable you to watch it shrivel up and turn sour. Instead let it fall to the ground and feed the soil at your feet. And turn your attention to next seasons achievements.
- Believe in your roots for without them you would not be. Trust in their existence, do not go endlessly searching for yourself. Roots are not beautiful, they are not sweet, you will not be happy with what you find. But that is not what they are designed for. It is the blossom that attracts the bees, the branches that provide the songbirds a perch, the fruit that brings life through it’s nourishment.
That it what makes a tree a beautiful tree.