I don't know about you but I often ask myself a series of fundamental questions about existentialism that are very hard for me to answer. They always begin with the same one: "Who am I?"
Trust me; not knowing the answer to this one kills your buzz right from the beginning. I mean I know bits and pieces about myself and my existence I guess. Things like I cannot continue doing what I am doing on a Word file before I put my paragraphs in perfect lining - Word calls this justifying funny enough - and selecting Arial as my font. 12 points of course, I mean who would dare argue that...Only after then I can peacefully keep at my daily business. Does that hint at anything about who I am? Probably it does a little yeah. But such granular level of detail is not what I am after, is it? I want to reach the bigger answer. You know, the one that makes crowds go "Wow! I would want to be that person, sure!" or make readers say softly inside "I totally identify with this woman. Oh my! It's like she sees right through me!" all the while their eyes are racing from one line to the next. Lines that I wrote. That's the kind of grandiose answer I am looking for when I wake up at 6.45am, sit straight on my bed staring into my cat's hungry eyes and ask who the fuck am I, kitty?
She doesn't know either.
My husband and I were studying on potential questions he might get asked at a very important job interview he was prepping for. After all the generic, empty questions that future bosses take special pride in asking you, we ended up with a question that I rather like and would definitely ask if I ever became a stupid boss some day. I hope you already have an idea of what that question was by now. I mean you have been reading for 335 words already. We thought it could go along the lines of:
"So tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you?" Instead of being stupefied like I am every morning in front of my cat, he would be well prepared with his very intelligent answer and say:
"Well who am I you ask eh? It's not going to be a simple answer future boss. I am a long list of adjectives and nouns and highly likely even verbs. So if you're ready for it, hang on to your hats and hear this out! I am a lover, a husband, a son, a brother, an athlete, a yogi, a New Yorker, an Upper West Sider, a Turk, heck even an American, a cyclist, a redditist, a cat owner, a former dog owner, a future dog owner, a futboller, an avid reader, a gym member, a subway rider, a car driver, a truck driver, a motorcyclist, a shopper, a patron, a renter, a neighbor, a gentleman, a runner, a colleague, a boss, an employee, an employer, a flower kid, a pragmatic, an engineer, a romantic, a sentimentalist, a skater, an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, a traveler, a tourist, a museum goer, a curious mind, a tired body, a vulnerable hearth, a kid, a parent, an uncle, a music listener, a musician, a class president, a friend, a best friend, a boyfriend, a student, a grad student, a scholarship student, a store clerk, a sales consultant, an account executive, an early bird, an all-nighter, opera goer, concert goer, movie goer, ballet goer, a dance admirer, a show stopper, a dancer, a groom, a wedding attendee, a best-man, a swimmer, a beach body boy, a couch potato, a chic man in a suite, a bum without shoes, a well groomed man, a depressed man, an abandoned child, a supportive child, a casualty of a broken home, a survivor of a bad father, a super hero, a burden, a nephew, a brother in law, a critique, a criticized, a story teller, a puzzle solver, a winner, a loser, a salesman, a customer, an entrepreneur, a developer, a learner, a teacher, a volunteer, a for-profit capitalist, a cigar smoker, a healthy eating enthusiast, a carb loader, a miserable failure, and of course a huge success. Like I said, not a simple man. "
These were only some of the things that came to my mind at one blink of an eye. Imagine what any other person, whose lives he has ever touched, could have said about who he was. His mom, his best friends, his worst enemies..I mean I don't even want to begin. How many people do we get in contact with throughout our entire lives? 73,089 on average? Probably, I'm pretty good with numbers. So they could all help add to this list and at some point the answer to this interview question would become a book of its own, right? We can't do that at this interview. He won't have time. His boss will lose interest. He won't get the job. He has to summarize, shorten, simplify. And despite the never-endingness of who he is, when you ask him, he gives you the same blank stare I give to my cat in the mornings right after I wake up and says "....I don't know...Just a man..."
Same responseless syndrome I suffer from, right? So can it really be a coincidence that I can't answer this question and so cannot my husband? Are we the only human beings on earth, who doesn't know who they are? I mean if so, it's kind of beautiful that we were able to find each other, isn't it? So romantic. However I don't believe that to be the case at all. I think nobody really, truly knows who they are. Some are just more open about it than others.
Do you know who you are? Does the answer you give to yourself really satisfy you? Or is it just an automatic one? Like when you say "Good!" to your colleague asking how you are in the morning.
Are you really good? How do you define good by the way? And do you even care that grammatically, you're supposed to say well, not good. You don't? Good. I don't either but if I ever used it in an article that was going to be published somewhere, an editor would probably shiver at a "good vs. well" mistake and potentially advise against the article altogether. Because some things are more important than others in relation to the context within which they are reviewed.
Like the real answer to the question who you are doesn't matter in an important job interview as much as the answer to question "how will you help this company make more money?" Or if you ask a terminally ill patient what they would do with shit loads of money, they wouldn't care, would they? Money doesn't matter to them, same way my existentialist agony doesn't matter to my cat. She just wants food, ill patient to live and my husband to get that job.
World doesn't stop whirling all of a sudden when I wake up every morning not knowing who I am, nor do I stop living. We just do. But I sincerely believe that those of us who take a break from all everything and just figure this out turn out a titbit happier than the rest on last day of their lives.
Hence forth, I will find an answer to this question like I occasionally find myself having done just that. Problem is by the time I do come up with one that is acceptable by my and world's modest standards, I will probably have changed fundamentally again, as I did several times throughout my 30 years of existence and by then I will once again start waking up not really knowing the answer to "Who are you?".
Point is I don't trust people who know exactly who they are and what they want to achieve in life. If one has a clear purpose like some lame self help book might recommend, it is probably a made-up one. A fake purpose that someone else thought was giving a strong message to the world, right? Because all we care about is to look strong, to be good and to have it all, right?
Today, once again I woke up not really knowing who I am. I just don't know. I do however, know this: I will at all costs constantly avoid becoming a pretend, know-it-all person, who strives for perfectionism. Who are we perfecting ourselves for? No better yet, who are we?
Let's start every morning with that simple question until we can see that it is not simple at all. If anything, it is the exact opposite of simple. It is impossible to know that, especially in today's society where the socially acceptable norm of self changes on a weekly frequency at best. We are too lost in daily conversations, things to follow, rules to break. We're too concerned with layers and layers of bullshit when the only thing we have to figure out for ourselves is just who the fuck we are.
I don't know it. Noone will know it for me either. I have to figure that out for myself and take the necessary fall for it if I have to. 30 years of being on this earth prepared me for nothing but this. I can't promise that I will definitely find the answer but I am willing to try. If all goes to hell, I will just go back to not knowing but living anyway. Isn't that what most people do anyway? But I am not most people; I am me and me wants to be discovered.