Happy new month! For some reason I really get excited when a new month comes along. This month being the penultimate month of the year, I can’t help but think about the year that has been and begin to think about the year to come. Then there’s the real reason I love November; Thanksgiving! And the endless supply of food.
As 2014 is coming to a close, I do find myself thinking back. Trying to figure out how my life changed and how I changed this year. Trying to see how much more effort I need to put to accomplish my “goals” before the year ends. The theme of our weekly Chapel services at work this year was: “How will you be seen in 2014?” and I think it fits well with my post today.
A big part of a person’s life is about discovering who we are. We learn new things about all sorts of things and in turn learn new things about ourselves. Like when a baby imitates something their mother says and they discover that they can talk. (And they never shut up after that). The first time you taste chocolate and discover that you don’t like chocolate. When a stranger smiles at you and you notice their dimples and discover that you think dimples are cute.
As I was growing up, I changed schools a lot. Being the new kid so many times meant I had to form first impressions with people over and over. As I learnt more and more about people I mastered the art of creating great first impressions; how I wanted to be seen. For example, people hardly ever believe me when I tell them I’m shy. I learnt earlier on in life that being shy makes you vulnerable. It gives an air of lack of confidence. So I trained myself to never let strangers see my shyness by being the complete opposite of shy.
As I have gone through life, I’ve discovered that my shyness is not the only part of myself that I conceal from people. Depending on the context, I find that I can have a myriad of different personalities. This is especially obvious in most of my one-on-one interactions. This “skill” actually proved very useful in debate club, I could give a great argument regardless of which side I was on. If given a choice, I actually chose the side that I personally opposed. I felt I could come up with better arguments that way.
I have discovered, however, that every once in a while, I get to meet people who bring out the real me. The one I don’t want people to see, the person I am when I’m by myself. I discovered that sometimes in life you meet someone who makes you want to expose your weaknesses rather than hide them. They somehow have the power to see your weaknesses as strengths. Sometimes you meet someone whose opinions resonate so much with your own opinions. You begin to see something familiar in them and think that maybe you can show them a bit of who you are. The there’s that person you meet that makes you want to actually change who you are. Someone who inspires you to take that step you’ve been afraid to take to actually become a better person.
I was trying to figure out the title for my post today and I remembered this phrase; “I am because because we are, and because we are therefore I am.” I don’t remember exactly where I’d heard it before but I always thought it was something from a Shakespeare novel. I discovered however, that it’s actually a quote by a Kenyan writer named John S. Mbiti. The phrase is also partly associated with the “Ubuntu” philosophy which seeks to uphold humanity and community. There’s a lot more to this philosophy that is not actually part of what I’m targeting today but I feel that this quote really does capture what I’m trying to say.
Who am I? One simply cannot answer this question honestly without the acknowledgement that who we are depends, to a great extent, on who other people are. I am because we are.