Years ago, I studied self-identity in a philosophy class and became so perplexed by the subject that I chose to write my final on this particular issue. Most may think that there isn’t much to write about, because this seems pretty easy, but when you think the way I think, nothing is easy. Nothing is just “it is what it is.” To say “it is what it is” is to give up on thought and pontification, and the search for something deeper in the cause and effect. When I choose to say “it is what it is,” I am choosing to stop all thought, and quit the debate of what could be, just to end with the understanding of what is known is known to those that know, and let be. This could not be the case with such a profound subject: who am I?
The argument in class was this: for your self to be identified, there must be a constant – what is this constant that keeps you entirely defined and identified as what you have been titled? For example, I have been named Michelle Floyd by my parents, but to be called Michelle Floyd does not identify my self, or who I am. It is just a title I have been given and go by in order to be referred to or called by. Memories come and go, and get distorted with time and even erased due to head trauma or disease – so how can I be Michelle Floyd if someone who knew me once no longer does? What if I forget my own identity – am I still “Michelle?” We say that we still look the same, and that may be the continuum in our life to identify our self – but I look nothing as I did when I was born, and if you look at every school picture ranging from K through 12, I look familiar to each, but not exactly the same. My skin changes, my eyes change, my hair, my height, my body structure… and it continues to change even though I am 30 years old. Scientifically, our cells constantly are dying and reproducing, leaving no old cells for us to identify with… Within time, our body is filled with new cells at so many points of our life. To be defined as to what role we have in our life is also false. Today I may be Daughter, Wife, Girlfriend, Sister, Aunt, Niece – but tomorrow, I may not.
What then, makes me who I am?
Today, I have taken a look back on my life, and I see the shifts of my personality. I see the changes in my reactions to others and I see a never-ending change in myself. I see the steps I have taken to become a good person, because this was so important to me. Then I see how I continue to attempt to be a good person, but so many events in life happen that begin to make me bitter and unattached. Then I see how love conquers my life and brought inspiration, but such flagrantly opposite personalities aren’t always easily churned into butter. Then I see reflection and the strive for everything better with the definitions I have given myself due to the struggle of living and obstacles faced with, but the lack of understanding and compromise hinders all. I see so much when I look back, and at each moment I would be able to define who I was at that time, but when I try to use the same definition in my life today, it doesn’t stick. I am not the same as I was in the past. I remembered a short time ago, I was compassionate and attentive. I remember being articulate and poised. What happens to all the attributes we once possessed? Do they just go away entirely, or is it still there – somewhere?
To ask myself, “Who am I?” Is to answer, I am constant evolution. I evolve in not one gradual, escalating line, but in tangents across a three-dimensional platform of something that is undefinable.