posted on Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Who Am I?
Socrates is credited for saying, “Know Thyself.” How can such a simple statement represent something that can be so difficult to do? Growing up in the turbulent 1960’s, I recall people saying they were going to go somewhere to find themselves. It’s a belief that nature has given us skills and behavior traits that we can find inside ourselves. It also implies that it helps to leave our childhood environment to make this discovery. In theory, once we discover our skills and traits, we can live a more productive and satisfied life. This self-discovery allows us to become an authentic person. We can then explain our behavior by saying, “That’s just who I am”– be it good or be it bad.
We may also find that it’s difficult to be an individual at times because culture requires some conformity. Conforming to societal norms may not always agree with our individual nature. We can ask ourselves, “Am I becoming who I want to be or am I becoming who others want me to be?” Answering the question, “Who am I?” can be a difficult and confusing journey.
It’s always easier to look at others and judge if they are being authentic. Have you ever known someone who is so nice that you ask yourself, “Are they real?” Then, there are those who we know are great fakers. They put on a mask and change that mask, depending on the group or person they are with, so they can achieve a position or recognition. These people say things they believe others want to hear, and are skilled in the art of using “Bull” as a con. They say all the right things while doing little or maybe even the opposite of what they say. Unfortunately, sometimes people do gain power and recognition by being inauthentic.
Maybe finding out who we are becomes easier if we understand that as we age, we will change and hopefully learn some lessons. Sometimes we cling to youth forever and overlook the satisfaction of becoming an elder with all of the wisdom we gain over time. If we do have traits by nature that make conforming difficult, age allows us to discover we are capable of adapting and compromising. The world we live in is not always going to be convenient for us as individuals. We must find balance between being authentic and living cooperatively with others.
"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
1 John 4:4
Try not to get too stressed out when trying to answer the question, who am I? It’s not a singular solution; it’s a process called life and there are many changes along the way. Ed Thomas often gave us helpful advice to figuring out who we are. He did so whenever he said, “Do what’s right.”
Al Kerns & the Ed Thomas Family Foundation
This post is written by Al Kerns, a long-time friend of Ed Thomas and a team member with the Ed Thomas Family Foundation. Al coached with Ed for 30+ years at Aplington-Parkersburg.