This quote that hangs in the room I teach has captivated me since the first day. What is the difference between finding yourself and creating yourself? I feel that I’ve always heard the journey of life referred to as a search for self; that’s the way we examine it in literature. The character is lost; they’ve lost sight of who they are and what they believe in, and they embark on change or in some cases the world of adulthood. They are trying to find where they “fit” in the world. So is finding ourselves about finding our place within our communities, families, and society in general? Is that really what the journey is about; finding where we fit?
I’ve always found it an interesting contradiction how our society claims to celebrate individuality, but there’s still the expectation to live and be a certain way in order to truly be accepted. We all want to feel accepted and like we fit in, but I don’t like what I think of when I hear this word “fit”. Fit to me means we have to conform to certain standards and expectations on how to live our lives, but there are so many ways to live an acceptable good life without conforming to some of society’s pushy expectations.
I don’t think this journey in life is about finding ourselves but about creating ourselves. One of my favorite quotes that I’ve used to describe my own choices in life is Robert Frost who said, “two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”. But maybe it’s about not even really about a choice between the paths before you, but more so about creating our own. Whether it’s our careers, our marriages, parenting, the way we live our life there’s always the push that do something right or well we need to do it like so and so or because that’s just “the way it is”.
As a child my parents often accused me of “always having to do things my way”. I don’t think the battle between me and them was really about me getting my way as much as me getting to do things in my own way. My goal in life is not to raise rebel children as much as it may sound at the moment but to raise confident children that look at those two roads in the wood and choose rather to just pave their own path. I don’t want them to spend their life chasing society’s changing ideals of what’s the latest acceptable way of thinking and living; I want them to spend it living by their own rules to create the person they want to be, not the one someone else wants them to be.
So, child, don’t waste your time trying to find yourself in this crazy world; just go out there and create the “you” you imagine, and it is there you will find yourself in that person you created on your own terms.