Strip yourself of everything you think defines you. Your profession, your heritage, your misgivings, your projections – none of these things are you. You aren’t your job, you aren’t your heritage, you aren’t what you like, you aren’t your clothes, you aren’t your tattoos, you aren’t what you think you are or what you project yourself to be. You’re none of these things.
What are you alone? What are you when you take a sledgehammer to the structure you built around yourself? It’s a scary thought, taking away everything you thought you were. We mustn’t fear deconstruction, we mustn’t fear blowing ourselves apart and sorting through the pieces. When you take all of those distractions away, you’re left with only honesty.
I used to fancy myself a musician, which I still am despite my best efforts to repress it. But, our occupations aren’t us. When I was young, my Italian heritage was something I was proud of. But now that I’m older, I’ve come to realize that nothing really matters all that much. Your ethnicity isn’t earned, you inherit it through an accident of birth. It’s uninteresting to me and has been for a while. I don’t consider ethnicity to be part of who I am. It doesn’t matter in so far as my character goes. So, ethnicity doesn’t matter, nor does your job – what then do you have left?
Ask anyone to define themselves and they’ll likely list the things they want you to like about them. Defining oneself is often an exercise in self-interest. Generally, the longer someone’s answer to the question, the more self-involved they are. Ask yourself that question:
What am I? If you’re not your job and not your ethnicity, you’re left with your most basic role as a human being. You’re a member of a family, a friend, and a member of a community. When you view things on this level where everyone is distilled down to basic personhood, the hierarchy of our world becomes all the more ridiculous.
Take for instance the idea of royalty and wealth. Are we really meant to respect someone because they were born – once again, an accident – to wealthy parents or a “royal” family? The child earned nothing, and yet they’re born into a world where people respect them based on nothing other than their noble birth. Is that really something to respect, something to revere? It’s all so arbitrary. The idea of a royal family is not compatible with the current climate. The English are supposed to revere and bow to an entire family because it’s been done that way for years? Why? Why are Americans supposed to revere the billionaires that control our country? I don’t respect money, it means nothing. It’s the quality of a person’s character, that’s all we have left when we strip everything away. Is there anything less interesting than a wealthy person? Sure, they find themselves interesting, and they want you to do the same. But really, a person is only as interesting as their core personality allows for.
Most people are constructions. They’ve cultivated a suitable personality that they want others to perceive, but that’s not real. The moment you’ve changed yourself to fit in, you’re gone. Stop it. Stop trying to be anything. That’s the problem as I see it: everyone is trying and no one is doing a thing. Stop trying. You’re enough. Your real self is more interesting than what you created. I don’t know about you, but I can detect a disingenuous person within minutes (if not seconds) of meeting or speaking with them. It’s not hard to spot if you know what to look for.
The point is this, once you strip away what you think defines you, strip away the nonsense you created, and strip away the narcissistic lies that led you to believe you’re so important, that’s when your true self can be seen. What are you without everything you built around yourself? What are you alone?