“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.