I’m not sure I know myself very well at all. In the movie Juno, Mac MacGuff says, “I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when,” to which Juno responds, “I don’t know what kind of girl I am.” This statement speaks to me, and I feel much the same sentiment. Often people make statements about me, or are surprised when I say certain things or act certain ways. I am often confused, frustrated, and occasionally hurt by these statements, because I don’t usually think of myself the same way other people are making me seem. This feeling is described and explained very well in this video by Ze Frank, specifically starting around 2:30:

“Lots of things can stand in your way, especially the people who are closest to you. Your family, your closest friends, think they know you and sometimes can have a very rigid definition of your theme: “You were never athletic.” “You always start things and never finish them.” “You’re not a naughty boy.” “You’re artsy.” “Your theme isn’t just made up by you.” Robert Putnam, in a book called ‘Bowling Alone’ says this inner circle is very good at supporting you in times of crisis. When you’re emotionally severed, they can remind you who you are. But if you wanna change who you are, you might need other people. People who know you but don’t know you so well. Putnam says that that’s what knitting circles and bowling leagues and clubs supplied in the middle of last century. People who would surprise you by saying, “Wow, you’re athletic.” “You do have a way with words.” “You seem like a naughty boy.” These are the people who seem like they can lead you to a new, interesting job. These are the people who provide you with new themes and new perspectives, away from the burden of history of your inner circle.”

I realize that I so often ignore as much of the world as I can and just let things happen to me. I choose ignorance over knowledge because I am afraid of things such as failure or rejection. This fear drives me to hide within my own inner circle, to keep to myself and stay around what I know to be ‘safe’. This is what causes me to stay within the same activities, as well as avoid taking risks of any sort. I’m afraid to start anything because I’m afraid of doing it poorly. I stay stuck within my own theme, never venture outside my inner circle, and never explore new things. I’m forcing the same old theme upon myself.

What makes me me? by Marie Hicks, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

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