Observe all men, thyself most
– Ben Franklin
I’ve been waiting to write this post for a while, but I figure I’ll just jump right in. It’s not a new idea at all. But it’s something to think about.
When you enter college, you have the opportunity to meet new people and essentially create a new identity for yourself. When you move to a new city, you’re starting over yet again. Same for when you start a new job. Make a new friend. Start a new relationship.
Each time the big question is: Who do you want to be?
How do you want people to see you? What will you let them see? Will you be an open book, or will you let yourself unravel to them slowly? I was on a date once and I spent 5 hours talking nervously to fill the silence, but it must have been a good date because it lasted 5 hours. I wondered the whole time if I was giving away too much of myself at one time. The guy at the end told me that it was okay because I only let pieces of myself go at one time, and I “unravelled like an onion.” But it only worked out well because he understood that people are complex. Personally, I don’t think I could listen to someone for that long.
I have a friend that I admire because he doesn’t have a Facebook or a Twitter. As a journalist, I have to have both. I used to hate checking my phone, but now I check it madly, and I find myself having to stop myself and take a step backward: Sonali, it doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers you have or how many people like your new post! But again, as a journalist, it does matter because I need to see what people are reading and what people like so I can write things that mean something. It’s the same reason I started watching reality TV. What is the hype all about?
Funny story. We sat at brunch yesterday and my girl friends and I were talking about how much we love getting flowers and jewelry (partially because we like the attention, it’s a kind gesture to know you care, boys!). The boy goes: I don’t get it. Why do girls like things that are shiny and colorful? It’s because we like the attention. But why is that? Why do we need big weddings with a million friends that we haven’t talked to in forever? Why do we take pictures and keep blogs and save our text messages and voicemails?
The Self and Other.
Again – it is a known thing that our identity is partially how we see ourselves, partially how others see us, and partially how we see ourselves in relation to how other see us — and some believe more than others that our reputation is a big part of our being. Either way, our identity is a big part of who we are and how we live.
If you’re a journalist, no one will buy your paper if they don’t like it. If you’re an entrepreneur, no one will buy from you unless they like what you have to offer. If you’re selling insurance, someone will work with you if they like you! Why is it that we most of our lives catering to other people? Last I checked, my life was my own. Doesn’t feel that way sometimes. But at the end of the day, maybe looking to others is just one of the million ways we question ourselves. Better ourselves. Learn to live more radical and interesting lives.
Conclusion: We spend our entire lives getting to know ourselves. And maybe it’s not such a bad thing?