It's something that I've been thinking about lately, partially spurred (well, almost fully spurred) by the lovely console RPG, Persona 4. It's a question, though, worthy of discussion, regardless of where it comes from. I'm beginning to doubt that it is possible to actually know who we truly are.
Why is that? Well, almost everything we know about ourselves doesn't come from an internal source of knowledge. We compare ourselves to others on a daily basis. I'm taking a class on social psychology right now, and it just confirms this fact. Our descriptions of ourselves are not based on our own dispositions, but rather, how those dispositions relate to others.
And we change. We change who we are in order to become more pleasing to those around us. The core self becomes lost in the shuffle. We can't figure out who we are any more - hell, we don't even know if a "true self" existed to begin with. So we turn to social comparisons, and social labels to identify who we are - it starts as soon as we reach the age where we can begin to reason. Ask a 5 year old who they are, and they'll say that they are a kindergartener.
I guess it'd be impossible to explain ourselves to others if we didn't have a means to compare ourselves to them, but even so, the self is, and throughout much of human history, has been given up to society. We can't survive without others bouncing back signals to us that we are who we are. Even someone who considers themselves a hermit, or socially undesirable requires society to give them that message.
And it's not only the fact that this is the only way we can describe ourselves to others. There are so many things about ourselves that we hide from others, that we put in the shadow. For me, it's often my cynical nature and my ability to be downright cruel to others in my mind. Sometimes, I get so frustrated with people that I just want to tell them, right then and there, how stupid they are. But I don't. I shove that part of me deep down inside, I refuse to let it out.
Society seems to do this to us in general. Why is that? Why can't we be who we want to be? I mean, would it be good if we could be who we wanted to be at any time? Or would the self just become more lost, as we hide ourselves in our multiple personas, hoping to someday find the one that fits the best for us? There isn't a clear-cut answer to this.
I guess my main question is, does the fact that it is nearly impossible to define the self, even within yourself, without comparing yourself to others necessarily a bad thing? I don't really know. I do think that many people are forced to repress so much of their personality as part of the process of growing up and trying to "fit in" during adolescence that many people become husks of their true potential. So many people try to fit in without realizing that they are giving up so much of themselves in order to do so, but yet, we as a society force this upon our youth thanks to images that solidify the idea that one has to fit in in order to be accepted..
I don't know. Anyone else out there ever think about stuff like this?
[YOUTUBE="0eMpjtu6FZI"]I'll Face Myself - Persona 4[/YOUTUBE]
Good song to listen to while pondering this question. *beardstroke*