Our True Selves

By Mariam Bu Asalli. Mariam, 20, is from East Riffa, Bahrain and examines Foucault's quote on "[becoming] someone else" in the context of the ever-changing universe. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” – Michel Foucault.

Growth is vital within every stage of life and this universe. Amongst this inevitable expansion is inescapable ignorance and oblivion. During our existence we all go through indisputable phases of growth such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. These all come with their own distinguished biological, psychological, emotional, and social characteristics. However, our transformation is not merely limited to these labeled agendas. We are creatures of infinite variations. There is a never-ending revolution inside of us and, hence, people have been battling with themselves for years. No matter how hard we try to acknowledge our true selves or identify exactly who we are, we end up being more disoriented than before. Many of us hate the alleged complexity of our innate selves and so, ironically, we spend the majority of our lives striving to pacify and reduce ourselves into the simplest form possible; in a way where we can confidently label and identify ourselves to the world. As a result, our inner world becomes abandoned, abused, and most of us eventually end up feeding off of external validations, addictions, and materialism. When we try to control and restrict ourselves, we neglect everything else that shapes us and we wind up putting ourselves through agonizing turmoil, which is paradoxical to our fundamental intention of “simplicity”. Besides that, this eliminates progression, bliss, and enlightenment. The idea that we have to have ourselves and our motives pinpointed to a narrow objective is nothing but a cultural disposition that douses our true spirits.

The notion of ‘knowing’ or indicating exactly what we are comes from the keenness of having an external prestige and purpose, as it comes from a place of deficiency or ego, rather than truly marveling at who we innately are. Candidly, who we are, at our core, is not a label of any kind, such as family name or a societal position or a wealth rank. Our jobs, reputation, hobbies, interests, friends, family, lovers, nationality, race, and even gender do not merely define us. We find ourselves feeling inadequate even with all the labels mentioned, which therefore, pushes us to conform to anything that we feel will elevate our self-esteem.  Hence, we stray further and further away from who we truly are, all for the sake of an illusory self-image or ego. Who we intrinsically are is a feeling; a profound knowing, acceptance, and contentment within rather than just some form of classification or category. When identity is shaped from a peripheral or a communal point of view, we always want to fit in and put labels on rather than experience impartial inner knowledge and growth. Conformism and orthodoxy is put on a pedestal while intrinsic change and enlightenment is shamed and disregarded.

Change is perceived as mayhem in our society, where a visibly shifting individual is supposedly “unstable” or “disarrayed” or “lost”, and yet change is a natural and vital part of the Earth and all who reside in it. As a matter of fact, the Universe, as a whole, is wired by perpetual expansion and shifting. This is evident by many countless cycles and occurrences in our planet such as day turning into night and the other way around, seasons changing from fall to winter, spring to summer, and then back to fall, the phases of the moon and tides, and so on. Besides that, plants and animals also undergo different cycles from their first to their last breath. We don’t question or try to analyze or doubt or belittle such divine transformations. We’ve forgotten that we come from the same branch of the tree of Life. Being compliant and surrendering to our miraculous inner changes will get us closest to who we truly are, and we’ll reach an awareness and recognition like no other. Resisting such growth and change, on the other hand, or our natural instincts, is a form of self-sabotage, and thus, undeniable suffering would be dealt with as a result. Likewise, gratuitous external interferences go against the Law of Nature and lead to abysmal catastrophes within, just as the man-induced global warming has devastated our Earth.

Our greatness is truly immeasurable, but unfortunately overlooked or disparaged. We frantically try to be distinguished with a purpose or category or an external significance of some sort and yet we fail to realize that we are already born with an abundant prominence and phenomenon within.

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