Our life can be summed up as a constant conflict between getting to know ourselves and developing ourselves. Yet, do we ever wonder why we’re never able to completely get to know ourselves? It’s because we don’t have a stable form. Yes, we don’t have a stable form even when we can look in the mirror and identify our flaws and perfections, when we can name all of our likes and dislikes and mention our strengths and weaknesses. The truth is we never stay the same with each rotation of the earth around the sun. We all are aware that when we talk about ourselves, we talk about our personality. When we introduce ourselves or try to get to know someone, it’s the personality and not the person in the physical form that we try to learn about.
But something as fluid as our personality can never assume a particular form. Consider each day in your life: from the moment you part your eyelids, to the moment you go back to sleep. Every single day, you learn something new. Be it an educational fact, a new word, a new discovery about the world or a thing you stumbled upon by accident. Whatever you learn becomes a part of “you”, that is, now you are someone who has learned it; and yesterday you were ignorant of it. Thus, you are different now from what you were yesterday.
Since the day we became a part of this world, we have been in a process of continual change. Though it’s easier to group it into the common phases of learning to crawl, walk and run, the truth is, none of us have faced the exact same situation as the other, making us similar yet totally different. We may know a bunch of facts about our close friends and family and be able to relate with them on many levels, but we can never get to know someone completely, because every time there is a new change in them. That brings me to the another quality that we all share in common —uncertainty about ourselves. We can never get to know who we exactly are.
Take the example of a lake and a river. A river that keeps flowing throughout its life and a lake that is still, save for the ripples and soft waves. Let’s talk about the sand and silt content at the bottom of both. If both of them remain untouched by an external agent, then the lake wouldn’t have any change in the composition of its sand and silt, but the river can change with every location it makes its way through, as it carries along everything found in its course. We know about the contents of both, but we can never make exact predictions about the river because it will never be the same as you saw it last. That’s the case with us humans too.
Though we are constantly developing, we need to monitor ourselves. All of us have certain goals in life; we aim to be the best and strive for success. To achieve our dreams, we make changes in our lives and ourselves. We change our routines, habits, hobbies, and much more. To change mindfully, we first need to get to know ourselves. When I mentioned how we cannot get to know ourselves, I also attached the word — “exactly”. We can only get to know ourselves to an extent, and let me tell you that the “extent” here, is the limit to knowing yourself and it is the only necessity. When our goal in life is to change and become better, then we obviously mean change to become different; and when we say different, then that makes us unknown to our previous self, making us a different person overall. So, this limit here, is your flaws with respect to your dreams. In simple terms, these are the qualities you need to change in order to become better. They are the only ones worth figuring out.
We are not the same person we were years ago, or even a week ago. But that is what life is about. It is about becoming better than what you were. It’s about developing yourself in order to become what you always wanted to be and what you deserve to be. If we spend our time trying to figure out exactly who we are, it may take all of our life and we would still not know much about it. In fact, knowing who you are exactly, is as pointless as measuring the amount of water before evaporating. When our ultimate goal is to be different, then all we need to know is what we need to change.
Yes, we do need to change. We are where are because we have made adjustments: we learned and grew over time. From the day we started to walk, talk and learn, we have constantly evolved, because evolution is what continues life. The earth was never still; it never stopped erupting, flowing and creating because if it did, it would perish. Consider the example of stagnant water. Stagnant water eventually gets covered by algae making it unfit for survival. So does a stagnant human. We were made to evolve. In our workplace, we strive to become better each day, we work late night shifts, work overtime and keep learning things, because we are aware that it is what will grant us promotion. That being our goal, we change ourselves to become eligible for it. While people preach getting to know ourselves as a primary concern of our life, I believe that there is no meaning in getting to know what we never were. We will always keep changing and becoming different, so the only thing we need to know is what we need to change to become what we need to be.