A Side Note on “Being Real”

October 30, 2012 § 6 Comments

After this post, I had some lingering thoughts. So here they are. Bear with me.

I am aware of the fact that it’s impossible to define what’s real, to define who we are, as if who we “really” are is some separate entity that doesn’t have to do with anybody/anything else, including Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Who we are consists of a lot of things: I am my mother’s daughter. I am my father’s daughter. I am Ryan’s wife. I am a devout Mormon. I am parts of each creative writing teacher I’ve had (even the old grouchy one I disagreed with). Thank goodness for all of these people/beliefs that have contributed to this current essence of me.

But I’m curious how this essence would change if my high school teachers encouraged me to major in economics instead of English (we didn’t even have an economics class), or if I grew up in Indonesia instead of Central Oregon, or lived on a farm instead of in a neighborhood. What if I was the fourth child, or the first child instead of the second? What if I married one of those weirdos I dated instead of Ryan (THE BIGGEST WEIRDO!!)? My experience of the world would be different. My understanding of experience would change because of my experience. Does that make sense?

How much of what I consider “me” would change if all my experience changed? I like to say that I’d still have my humor–(I’ve given up on being fascinating and resorted to being sorta funny)–but the truth is, what if my dad was never my dad, or my cousin Dani never handed me a Jack Handy book? What if I grew up watching Teletubbies (GROSS!!!!!!!) instead of Seinfeld? Okay, I’m a little freaked out. I HAVE NO ESSENCE.

But I kid. I kid. I believe there are parts of me that are essentially me. And not just my boobs and saggy butt (which, even though I inherited these from my grandmother, no boobs or butts are exactly like mine. Ryan assures me.). I mean, what about things like my awe? My anger? My hope? My sorrow? (I could go into a long discussion about learning emotions, but that might mean even my emotions aren’t my own. I refuse!)

I guess, though, who we are is constantly becoming. (I wrote a poem about this once.) Both our essences and our details. I am often learning new hobbies, interests, ways of living and experiencing that bring me either more or less happiness. This process of discovery changes what I do and what I want. (You could call it transformative!) Internet/social media = a place to learn new things from all kinds of people. I think that’s good. Great. Excellent. Fascinating!

I guess my concern always comes back to motives. In the words of Michael Scott, “Why are you the way that you are?”

In this sense, my question should not be “WHO ARE YOU REALLY?” because that’s not a fair question. And honestly, I think it’s a stupid and limiting question. Instead, my question is: “WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE AND WHY?”

 

But again, this raises more questions. Do our desires better represent who we are (currently) than our actions? Ahh. No and yes?

Of course, this post as a whole has no central purpose. Add to it what you will.

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§ 6 Responses to A Side Note on “Being Real”

  • makaylacsteiner says:

    What I thought about as I read this? These two scriptures, and what impact they may or may not have on your thoughts:

    Jacob 4:13

    13 Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

    and

    1 Corinthians 13:9-12

    9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

    10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

    11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

    12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

  • Heather says:

    I thought of the CES fireside last night. He had a section called, “Become Who You Really Are.” It talked all about how the freak we actually know who we really are. A fascinating and critical question.

  • Cleve Brock says:

    I loved your thoughts on “Being Real” (maybe you could have titled it: “Why am I Me?), and I thought of all the wisdom that I could share with you on this subject. But as I’ve thought this through, the most enlightening counsel I can share with you as a father comes from a Monty Python album I listened to often which states: “Everything we know…is wrong!”

    Love Dad

  • Said the Skin Horse to the Velveteen Rabbit:
    “Real isn’t how you’re made… It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real…It doesn’t happen all at once…You become. It takes a long time.”

  • Alyssa says:

    I came across this and thought “Wow! I used to think about that all the time!” About what if my parents mixed my twin sister and I up after being born, and I’m really Amy and she is really Alyssa. Would we have become different people, would I have become like her? It’s a crazy thing to think about and all the things in our lives that affect who we become.
    You have an interesting blog. I like it!

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