Thursday, January 29, 2009

Individuality

I think part of the reason I've been spending time by myself is to get an idea of who I am. Granted, I know myself. I know what I like and what I don't like, but at the same time, I do a lot of things because it's the social norm or because it's what people around me are doing. Would I be doing the same things if people around me weren't doing them?

Much of how we act is strongly influenced by our surroundings, by who we're surrounded by. A group or mob mentality is a powerful force. Respectable and honest business people can be turned into rioters if placed in the proper setting. Good men can commit war crimes and torture. From this I'm left wondering what I would do in similar situations or what I would do if left alone.

Thoreau's Walden analyzes this. What a person does on their own -- what's important in life and who they really are -- is what he wanted to learn. I have to say I want to learn the same thing. I'm not sure I've ever done that. Part of me wants to move to somewhere where I've never been before, where I don't know anyone, so that I can learn who I am. Save for getting a job in New York City or California though, it won't happen; in this job market the chances of that are pretty slim. This leaves me to find other ways to learn who I am. Honestly, I quite like it. I haven't been able to clear my head and focus on myself for awhile. I haven't read something scientific or thought-provoking and been able to really absorb it.

I lose myself in relationships. At the first sign of trouble I become concerned I'll lose the person and so I go overboard trying to placate them. In doing so, I become what I think they want instead of who I am and through a wicked sense of irony makes me less what they want.

Gary Larson understands

People don't want a 'yes man' or someone who wants to do everything they do; they want someone they can respect, who disagrees with them, who wants to do their own thing with their own dreams. It's only when I'm left alone that I can actually figure out my own wants and needs and focus on myself. And honestly, it feels good.

I need to find the balance between being who I am and still being around others. I'm working on that. Not sure when I'll get there, but I'm working on it.

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