Monday, January 4, 2016

Contradict Yourself

Every morning I look in the mirror and ask myself, 
"Who are you going to be today?"

In my life I've been so many people.

When I was little I was that kid whose bible was Harry Potter, and I spent several years actually thinking I was going to grow up and be a dragonologist…

In middle school I went through a million phases, most memorably a black-tutu-and-fishnets phase, and the one where I made up a bunch of different names for myself (I don't think my art teacher ever knew Ellawind wasn't my real name)…

I've been the athlete: gymnast, figure skater, soccer player, and eventually semi-serious runner who ended up tackling a marathon.

I was an over-achiever with pretty good grades and a solid resume, going to college overseas and dressing like a professional office worker every day.

I became a traveller.

Eventually I leaned way to the liberal side of life and realized I believed in local businesses, organic food and pretty much the opposite of everything I was doing.

I became a college drop-out, a dreamer, living with my parents again and saving money to do my own thing.

Each of these pieces of me are an identity unto themselves. I could say simply "I am a Sagittarius" or "I am a redhead" and already you could guess some things about me. We associate certain attitudes, lifestyles, and backgrounds with mere fragments of our knowledge about people's lives. This is fine (how else would we ever begin to understand each other?) but it fascinates me, the sheer number of personas we have the ability to take on during our lives. And I'm only 20!

As much as it is important to be able to love yourself and accept who you are, you should also never become so locked into an identity that you can't let yourself change.

Understand that today, you are this person. Tomorrow things might change. They might not- but if they do, don't stress and feel like you can't do something because the person you used to be might not have done it. You are not always going to be the same person you were yesterday. How boring would that be? You'd never progress! Times change. You change. Embrace it.

"Do I contradict myself? 
Very well, then I contradict myself. 
I am large. I contain multitudes."

Walt Whitman

How are you supposed to know who you really are if you don't try on a ton of costumes first? Maybe you are a million things. Maybe you are ever changing. Maybe your identity is focused around one key belief or value you have, but taking some steps away from that might help you sharpen that focus.

Let go of your inhibitions. Be free. Experiment.

Do you want to see what it's like to be a painter? It doesn't matter if you've spent your whole life studying engineering or solving complex mathematical equations- if you want to paint, paint! Maybe every week there's a route you drive that takes you past a rock climbing wall. You wonder what it would be like to be one of the roped up people clambering across those walls, but you've never been the most active, so you've never tried. Pull over and sign up for a session! If it turns out that it's not the thing for you, okay, well now you know.

At the end of the day, no matter who you are or who you have been, there is still only one of YOU. YOU are unique. Embrace your individuality and love yourself while you explore who you want to be.

You can always change your mind. You can always try on a persona and later shrug it off and say, well, it's not me, but it was fun to try. And isn't life about the journey anyways??

I hope knowing this makes you feel more free. I hope today you follow that thread of thought whispering, I want to know what this feels like. I hope today you look at something you've always loved but always associated as something too far from your identity, and decide to try it out for yourself.

I hope today you find the courage to contradict yourself. 

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