One of the favorite memes of the “Internet unapologetic” on social media in the modern day has the essential form “I am who I am, your acceptance is not required.” Each iteration is slightly different, but all are essentially statements by the posters of the idea that they are, essentially unapologetically, who they are.
The thing about such an assertion is that it “works both ways.”
Where it’s true that you have spent your life becoming the person you are today, the reality is, you have spent your life becoming the person you are today.
About now, you’re wondering if I read (or maybe even thought about) what I just wrote. Let me assure you that I did.
The thing is, each of us has qualities of which we’re proud, those we find innocuous, and those we would rather not speak of, as they make us less than proud, to say the least.
To be clear, yes I am saying this is as true for me as for pretty much everybody.
What makes this even more challenging, is the realization that many folks—sometimes, yet again, myself included—are not particularly realistic about who they are.
A sort of “offshoot result of” this fact, is that there are often times when people don’t recognize who they are, but others do!
It’s also true that others see us, and correctly or incorrectly when doing so, make judgments on our person that are inconsistent with our understanding or recognition of who we are.
Where it’s easy to make the statement that others’ evaluations of our character and other traits of our persons are invalid (and to be fair, sometimes it’s correct as well), that doesn’t mean we’re correct in so doing.
The harder course, is to consider the words of others, and try to come to a conclusion as to their validity.
What makes this even more difficult for many, is that instead of seeking ways to improve themselves, many folks will take umbrage at the comments or statements of others, regardless the spirit of intent under which those observations were made.
The truth is though, regardless the mindset of the person offering their views, you should keep in mind one simple thing, either what the person is saying is true, or it’s not.
What that means is, even if the person expressing their viewpoint does so from a perfectly malicious perspective, your consideration of what they have said can still be helpful to you.
It has been said that, you make a choice—conscious or unconscious—as to how you will allow external influences to affect you. Though there are instances in which your “choices” are more or less involuntary, this is not generally the case. Put another way, more often than not, your choices are not entirely unconsidered at some point, nor are they necessarily reasonable or proper.
What that means is, even when a comment is proffered by one’s worst enemy and in the worst of ways (assuming one even has folks he or she considers enemies to begin with) they are worthy of consideration.
To be clear, am I then saying that consideration will always result in some sort of conviction, or need for remediating action? Absolutely not! That being said though, How can one even determine whether that’s the case without considering what’s said by that enemy?
I “get” the desire to make it clear to folks that you’re not terribly unhappy with who you are or what you’re doing. I further understand that, as we get older, that desire is likely to become stronger, if for no better or greater reason than that we’ve had time to examine who we are in detail, and make adjustments based on what we’ve seen. I’m not trying to say I see this position to be entirely unreasonable.
On the other hand, I think it unreasonable to ignore the statements of others out of hand. Again, this comes with the understanding that much of what you hear—particularly the older you get—will be things you’ve long since heard and considered. Even so though, taking the time to listen to others and really consider what they say to you, may be key to improving yourself and your lot in ways you never thought possible.
As I have already said, one of the keys to getting the benefit from what others say, is to be essentially dispassionate in so doing. Put another way, forget who said something and concentrate on what they said.
This, in essence, is why I find the meme spoken about at the beginning of this piece to be at the very least problematic.
No matter how old and experienced in the World you become, there is always room for improvement.
If you’ve children, and you haven’t imparted to them this truth, you’re not doing them any favors.
The seeds of such improvement can come from anywhere.
So, for those of you expressing the idea behind the “I am who I am, your approval is not required,” meme, know this. Where what you’re saying is technically true, firstly, that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit if you hear what I’m saying and consider it earnestly.
Further, if what you choose to be is among those things society finds improper, intolerable, immoral or illegal, you may find things are not as simple as the above impression implies.
Final words? Where it’s true you’re not beholden to the rest of the World for your happiness, satisfaction or wellbeing, it’s equally true that others may contribute to any or all of the three if you will let them.
Those around you are likely often incorrect in a variety of ways. Things they bring you to consider by accident or on purpose may be only marginally worthy of your consideration. Even so, there will be “gems among the worthless pebbles.”
If you would have a better life, find ways to improve yourself, look for mechanisms to make your time on planet Earth (and that of those who count on you as well) better, do not fail to consider the words of others you-ward.
As usual, thanks for your attention, and may your time be good.