People see the me they wanna see.– Matt Damon, House Of Lies
They only see you how they wanna see you/'Til you make them see you in some other way.- Childish Gambino, Hold You Down
Before I get to it, let's play a quick little game. It's called spot the goofy jackass. You have 10 seconds. GO!
We'll come back to this....
When I was little, I used to tell my great aunts and pretty much anyone else Down South that my name was Sam. My grandmother used to call me Ripley, after Ripley's Believe It Or Not for some odd reason. People in my neighborhood used to call me Lil Will because a) I looked like my dad b) there were other Seans on the street or c) they forgot my name, yet remembered my siblings' far more complicated ones. I tell you all of this boring stuff to just begin with just so we have a base for an idea of identity.
In my limited/long time on this planet, I've realized that I'm not one person. No one is one person. We are all generally an amalgamation of the perception of the people around us, and to an even greater extent, the world's view of us.
For example, if you asked people that knew me at different points in my life who I was, I'm reasonably sure you would get a different answer from each group for each time period and a slight variation from the folks in those groups. At the same time, the me of those time points would tell you I was a different person, probably based on what I thought I was (when I was little), what others thought I was (pre-teen to early teen years) or what I thought others thought I was (pretty much all of other times).
I was full of myself at one point in my life.
From geeky blerd (black nerd) to slacker pal of someone's kid to guy who would put in the most effort at the office, I wore a lot of hats. The problem was that none of these hats were picked out by me. As I got older, like a lot of people do, I just tried to become the person people believed me to be or wanted me to be. This is foolish but it's part of the growing process and "finding yourself." You have to try different roles if you aren't one of those rare lucky individuals who know who you are at a relatively young age. But, still, it's a bit stupid.
But you know what's stupider? Doing the opposite of what people expect of you just because. Not because you want to necessarily try something different or have an idea that this "you" is not the "real you." I did/do the opposite because I was just being difficult and also think following "what the world wants of me" is stifling to my freedom.
FUCK YOU, WORLD...and yellow polos.
Which brings us back to the above picture. Did you find who I was asking about? Here's the answer.
|It's the guy to the right of the Sundance winner and above the reality TV star. Seriously.|
This goofy jackass came to this event with his two buddies. They all drank and 2 out of 3 of them smoked that day. Yet, he is the only one who looks like that. Why? Because a) he drank because this was/is how he is perceived to be and b) he smoked because he had become the non-smoker by this time. He didn't have his shit together. Not that day. But it's alright. He'll have this picture to remind him of the next points I'm going to make.
There is nothing wrong with bucking against the world perception of you and there is also nothing wrong with slipping into the role that people present to you as what they think you are. The key is finding out who you really are at your core. We all take time to get to that point and we slip up at times. Just look at that picture again. I feel it has taken me longer than most, or at least my pals, and that we all continue to evolve as we grow but I'm feeling better daily about who I am and am getting more comfortable with who I am.
I'm not perfect. I fuck up. I'm better at a lot of things than others. I'm way worse at other things than some. But I believe in myself and my own personal level of awesome.