Have you ever wanted to discover who you are? And I mean the real you. The irreducible image of yourself. Whatever is beneath all the layers of stage play and the heavy weight of expectations and assumptions. The depths, not of who you want to be, but of who you really are.
I think we’ve falsely attributed the quest of self-discovery to the question: Who are you when no one is looking?
Who I am is who I become over the course of my life. My identity is revealed in real-time; in my life as it’s being lived. Identity is not some timeless status. If I try to peel back all the layers of whatever is ‘getting in the way’ of who I really am, I can only imagine coming face-to-face with a haunting sort of nothingness.
This means that in order to know someone – including myself – I have to walk with him, live with her, over a span of time. Identity formation and self discovery don’t happen in isolation and they don’t happen outside of history. No, they happen in the very life I am living, as it unfolds with the people next to me.
My family, my community, my mentors and teachers, my coworkers and my church, my best friends and ex-boyfriends, the things I’ve done or haven’t done, the choices I’m making and the places I’ve lived, the wounds I’ve felt and the food I eat, are not obstacles in my path to discover the real me. Rather, I only am who I am because of them: without them, no “I” would exist.