Know Thyself

Personal identity, if you’re anything like me, always feels like it’s under crisis. With all the new experiences, ideas, and people the world has to offer, sorting through the resonant material and discarding the irreverent can be rather difficult. A romantic notion that we can perform massive overhauls on our personality and consciously change our habits, desires, and inclinations persists. Perhaps the best example of this is one of my favorite movie musicals – Grease. (Please watch it. It’s such a fun movie and is culturally, pretty significant.)

In Grease, good-girl Sandy moves from Australia to the United States to enroll at Rydell High. There, she starts seeing bad-boy hooligansandy and danny grease Danny Zuko, but they have difficultly melding their two lifestyles. At the end, Sandy becomes more edgy and Danny, it appears, can now date her without ridicule from his peers.

Obviously, this is a huge over-simplification of the plot of Grease, but my point (and I do have one) is that you leave Grease feeling like Sandy had to change herself relative to peer pressure. The personality and mannerisms she had for the entire movie are thrown away (for admittedly, a really great musical number). My interest is not about why this message exists, but what we can do about it.

In a society where we experience external pressures all the time to do certain things and say certain things, how does one superglue her feet to the ground and say no? I am not entirely sure. I bet it’s different for everyone.

That said, everyone needs a healthy dose of self-reflection in order to combat the external pressures. For example, I went to an info session on consulting recently. Despite what friends and family have told me about the great information you learn and experience you gain, I realized that consulting would make me positively miserable for multiple reasons. Basically, I need a marked separation between work and the rest of my life, and I don’t believe consulting can offer that for me. Acknowledging and reflecting on this personal need is the only way to make sure that I don’t make a decision simply because the people around me believe I would be a good consultant. I know myself: quirks and all.

And changing into a skin-tight leather pants suit can’t change the fundamental aspects of my personality.

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