Michel Foucault during an interview with Rex Martin on October 25th, 1982, was asked a question: “You are most frequently termed “philosopher” but also “historian”, “structuralist”, and “Marxist”. The title of your chair at the College de France is “Professor of the History of Systems of Thought”. What does this mean?”
However, Michel Foucault replied with an elusive statement, saying “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.”
In simplest terms, Michel Foucault highlighted a life lesson, the lesson of “STAYING IN THE PROCESS.” He further explained this lesson through an analogy of writing a book. He said, “If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it?”
The analogy he gave holds true in many of life’s situations. When we set out for a journey in life, when we start pursuing a dream that we believe in, we lack a clear foresight of our end but we still go for it anyway, believing that we will be successful in the end. If we could see the events that would take place, the challenges that we might have to go through, the obstacles that will face us, the sleepless nights, and other sacrifices we have to make in order to get to where we are aiming for, we may never embark on the journey or pursue those dreams again.
The reason for this is because the process of becoming successful at what you do is scary and this is why most people give up (after they must have checked and seen what it would cost them). But you see, no successful man on earth just became successful overnight. They went through hard times, they went through difficult moments, most of them found themselves in pretty bad situations, they were discouraged, frustrated and other times they felt like giving up everything they’ve worked for but they kept on pushing and at the end they became successful people that we look up to today.
We should understand that it is not just about the dream you want to pursue, it is also about the process that you will go through because the process builds you, the process teaches you a lot. When you study the lives of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Lionel Messi, Nelson Mandela and other world leaders, you will see that they encountered rejection, hard times, lack of resources and every possible factor that would have taken them down, but the dream they had kept them going even though they did not know how it was going to turn out.
It is also very important that we remember the fact that these successful people were nobodies at the time they started pursuing what they believed in, but they never let that push them to the wall. They pressed on and continued to write their story until they got to the end of it. So, it’s not always about the end – it is more about the process because the process will make up the person you’re going to become and the values you will uphold as an icon in the society. It is the process that will give you your story in the end and these stories will become endless sources of inspiration to many.
So, it is not necessary to know exactly what you are. Your current level is insignificant. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else you were not in the beginning.