“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life is to become someone else which you were not in the beginning.” – Michel Foucault.
The first thing that came to my mind reading Michel Foucault’s quote is the chameleon. It instantly takes up the colour of its environment, in other words becoming ‘someone else’, to adapt to the situation, evade predators and survive – the main interest in life. No wonder the law of evolution mentions the survival of the fittest. We undergo constant ‘mutation’ in our personality all throughout our life.
We, as humans, are no different from the chameleon, we also change ‘colours’ according to different situations and people. If we don’t, we will also be hunted down by the predators of change and challenges. We all start small and then strive to make it big. Successful are those who try to become a better version of their old self during the journey. I will take the example of the famous scientist Michael Faraday. He could have been a blacksmith like his father but he didn’t, instead, he assumed his curious self and went on from being a book-binder to a renowned scientist who explained electromagnetism. You are no slave to destiny, you choose your respective purpose in life and toil for it.
If we are satisfied by our present situation, we are bound or, may I say, doomed to stagnate especially with the fast-forward pace of life piloted by technology. I was this timid girl at school, always shying away from everything. In all my reports would be written- timid and soft-spoken girl. I gave a shot at my first public speaking contest; I didn’t win, but I had tasted the stage. I realised it’s not impossible to talk in front of an audience. I took part in more elocution contests including a debate where I won the Best Speaker title. If I was someone who wants to be the same person all my life, I would have lost so many opportunities and would carry the label of being timid through my adulthood to my tomb. I didn’t ruminate on ‘exactly what I am’, I focused on ‘what I wanted to be’!
When faced with challenges, don’t become a whining person ranting away how life has been bad to you. Instead, change your personality and build on your mistakes and bounce back. Let’s say Mona is a submissive person by nature, she always gets dominated and never retaliates. She has to change and speak for herself else she will end up being a doormat. Or, in another scenario, if Lisa is hot-tempered, always overreacting and blowing things out of proportion, she has to try to be more tolerant. People resistant to change merely blame their bad-luck for things not going their way. They are the ones who believe in fate and planetary position in a birth chart to be the deciding factor of both their personality and future.
At work, you definitely have to be somebody you are not, enter the word- professional. At home, your room might be in complete disarray, but you still are the most organized team leader at work, you are the same person only being a better version in a different setting. In the working environment, we are assigned different roles, where at the same time we might be the superior to other workers and in other instances, we are working under an employer, so all the time being ‘someone else’ at different points of time with no one actually knowing who you are. Becoming someone else sure is a Herculean task, but the end result is always rewarding.
Now many will argue that while assuming so many roles we might lose our own identity. Michel Foucault spared a thought about that too by mentioning he doesn’t feel it is necessary to know exactly what I am. Exactly, is the word. It is important to know your identity, but not to the letter. Let me break it down. Knowing yourself ‘exactly’ means keeping a close tab on your strengths and weaknesses and strongly identifying them. Believe me, it has its consequences. Knowing all your weaknesses and constantly gripping on them, will prevent you from taking chances in life. On the other hand, being aware of your exact strengths will make you overconfident and leave no room for humility. Somehow losing count of our qualities, while playing the different roles keeps us more grounded than we think it does,
In order to keep the wheels of progress and personal development going, we should assume new personas. We have to thrive to become a better version of ourselves- personally and professionally. We need to embrace life with all its hues and colours, only then we shall morph from the larva to a butterfly. The norm of life is to keep growing… from a neonate to a toddler to an adult and an old person. They are all different people, different selves. The key is the transition from your old self to a new and better You.
Having to be different versions of ourselves in different settings is a true thing, but atleast we should try to keep a true identity or personality that reflects who we really are and how we are portrayed in the eyes of others. Very nice writing.
Thank you Jenny. Yes you are right our true identity will be like our core along with a flexible shell which adapts to different situations.
Good evening ma’am. That is a deep insightful article Dr Leena . How do you deal with changes ? Let’s say from student to doctor’s life?
Change can come in many forms in our lives. It might come forcefully like a tidal wave, or creep along incrementally like a glacier. It might come in the form of devastating tragedy, difficult choices, or even new opportunities.
But even though change is often difficult, many times it’s also for the best. Accomplishing anything great in life requires significant change that pushes us beyond our comfort zones.
Keep shining my dear little sis.
Change can be for the best or the worst but what shouldn’t exist is static in life . Life is meant to be dynamic . Otherwise ,life is doomed . Change is where things happen ,dreams are turned to reality
It is important to grow and develop not according to any given situation but following a path that leads to our chosen goals. Then whatever we become has a meaning.
Rightly pointed out Peer to but it’s along that path that different situations crop up… so ultimately changing according to situations leads us to our destination (goals)
Loved this article! Some people might become upset if someone is trying to change (‘being fake’, ‘trying too hard’, ‘you’ve changed’, ‘you are not who you used to be’, ‘wannabe’ etc) but these people are upset because the changes are inconvenient to them, because it disrupts the power balance in the relationship. To me, these are more reasons to keep changing!
So true Shailee… what we try to change for our betterment might seem off course for others… the idea is to keep growing… keep growing in your personality and out of uncomfortable situations!
The author has used a very subtle analogy of chamaleon to discuss the quote by Michel Foucault. She agrees with the quote by giving it a new perspective that becoming someone else, yes, but to become better and to face challenges. She shares personal experience to enrich the expose.
She elaborated on the “different persons” we become by defining different roles we play in our daily life. Ending with a poignant conclusion to reinforce on what Michel Foucault said, however, giving it a more positive and motivational meaning. Conclusively, beautifully and wisely knitted philosophies to elaborate on a quote.
Thank you for sparing a read and giving such a constructive and in-depth analysis of the article. of course adaptation is the key to self-growth and progress. We all “change” when faced to challenges be it positive or negative but it’s up to us to make the change as positive as it can be.
(Sorry for the long analysis)
That was some serious food for thought and thank you for your point of view . Yes ,I do agree withmost of it and would like to add that change does not always mean a better outcome .
I feel that every change we ,consciously or subconsciously ,try to bring about, should have a filter . For some, it may be a moral filter , for others it may be a filter for becoming a happier person . At times ,you don’t need to become a better person , you are already good enough and you have to work upon allowing yourself to be a happier person .
I was taught that one’s birth into a better or worse situation depends on previous life karma, etc . And also that if a person is ill , he/she is paying for past deeds . I always believed that I need to always help people so that I’m answerable to God at the heaven’s gate . Going along this line, I started as a teen , challenging about the balance between good deeds and self-worth . Should we blame otherwise abled people for their past life actions ? I felt this mentality was crippling me . No person deserved ill health or ill-fate . I started changing my thought process . Helping, sometimes even hurts. One should differentiate between help, pity and dependency .Moreover ,in the process of “doing good” I started changing myself into the ” socially best version” of myself , at the expense of my own happiness . I couldn’t even distinguish between the real and fake me .
So the change that you bring about to adapt for survival should not be all about survival at the expense of living your life. You may as a chameleon adapt to the surroundings but at times not changing , forces the surroundings to change . Adaptation should not be at the expense of happiness nor self-esteem .
I do agree about the part where it’s better to strive to be a happier person rather than a good person. Because being good is subjective, it depends on others opinion, while being happy is a sense of inner fulfilment.
Sometimes you are ‘good’ for others as long as you are a ‘giving’ person, at the expense of being drained of your time and energy. So learning to say ‘no’ in this context is a positive change.
Exactly . So change for yourself first , then adapt to the surrounding if need be . Otherwise , just shine .
Yes Keep Shining and changing for the better!
Very nicely written article.
Thank you so much!
A captivating work with a refined sense of language.
To reach any goal one has to climb a flight of stairs and at every step, a change is required. It is not only the hardships of life that will enhance you, but you as a person has consciously tailor yourself to conquer those adversities.
Taking myself as an example – my younger self had to go through a lot of sorrow arising from family matters, this major confusion of why would people so close to me act as such, left me in a depression.
I sought medical help and was able to overcome, however I now had a fear of trusting others and remained antisocial .Until someone, with a mindset portraying your ideas, came to me and gave me that push to change, for the better , to a new “version” of myself.
I really hope your article reaches someone in need.
– from one of your students , I know it is a long comment but this really touched me , thank you.
Thank you for sparing a read and to identify so strongly with what I have written. I am happy that you could overcome your fear and could share your views on this platform. Keep shining and heartfelt Thanks!
This is u leena keep expressing urself let the flow of emotions out
Thank you! It’s all spoken experience!
As Heraclitus once tossed, the only constant in life is change.
Changes come from every little things in life; flora, fauna, weather, itineraries and the list goes on. Sometimes the preffered words are evolution, adaptation or from a more scientific approach, Darwinism.
We, human beings, are more opened to changes than any other living organism and this has cemented our place in this world like no other. In other words, if you can’t adapt or evolve with your surroundings, you are doomed.
Leena, it’s a great piece of writing. Kudos!