Saturday, February 17

When are we ourselves?

If my memory serves correctly, I remember Rachel of Animorphs fame was once described by Jake as a person who was always the same. No matter if she were in front of a teacher, her friends, her most dire enemy or her mother, you always got the same Rachel. I understood that as a compliment, and it's not hard to find examples of this celebration of the consistent in American culture. People who are willing to tell their bosses what they just told their co-workers are as heroic as it gets in the business world. People who double-talk and wholly change their personalities depending on they're with are despised.

Yeah, I can agree with this virtue to the extent that those who act differently when their society changes in order to benefit themselves do not deserve respect. But it bothers me too. Different people affect us differently. Some people command our respect due to their achievements and person, and others simply make us feel good because of how their zest for life comes out in their every action. Because of their pessimistic attitude and apathetic personality, others bring us down. Why shouldn't we be affected by them and thus see changes in our personality? What's wrong with that?

I believe many would suggest that my view on changing personality is wrong as well because it does not allow us to truly ourselves if our personalities are so easily altered. It's this sentiment that drives so many characters on television to leave their everyday lives and go on a journey to "find themselves." Humans are social creatures, unable to exist or even learn much about themselves unless they are put in contact with and form relationships with other humans. To go live alone by a pond or on some mountain is foolish as we are cut off from the living mirrors our self-image comes from. To know themselves, people need community and relationships.

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