Saturday, 20 April 2013

Who am I?

Are we really more self-aware as we grow older? Is our picture of ourself really more accurate, more truthful, less prone to wishful thinking, or is it just as distorted as when we were young?

Can I ever see myself as I truly am, with all my strengths and weaknesses, without painting myself as an imaginary saint or an imaginary sinner?

It's very hard to see myself objectively without some sort of glossing or tweaking interfering and turning me into the Nick I'd like to be rather than the genuine Nick.

I see all the time how others have a mistaken view of themselves. They imagine they're quiet when actually they pontificate non-stop. They imagine they're tolerant even as they're denigrating some minority or other. My self-image might be just as warped for all I know.

I've definitely shed some of my more fanciful ideas - that I was a budding author, or an aspiring entrepreneur, or a red-hot revolutionary, or a sex-magnet. No, hang on, I never thought that....

But maybe I've ditched all those wild ideas and just replaced them with some equally wild ones. Now I think I'm a worldly-wise oldie or a political know-it-all or a caring and sensitive veteran of life's challenges.

The more likely reality is that I'm just the same old half-intelligent, well-meaning muddler who somehow staggers through life without unleashing total chaos and upsetting everyone in sight. Whatever special talents I claim to have are probably more fiction than fact.

It's not much use asking others how they see me, either. They may be spot-on or their image of me may be just as warped as my own. If they're convinced I'm a timid introvert, then they'll stick to that, despite all evidence to the contrary. Quite often, people see what they want to see.

Who can identify the real Nick? Certainly not me.

27 comments:

kylie said...

oooh! i want to know how you think i see myself!

Grannymar said...

Nick. Get down off that table and cut out the tantrum dance, right NOW!

Oops! I have been found out for squinting in other peoples windows.... maybe if I tip toe away.....

Nick said...

Kylie: Goodness, there's a question! I think I'll come back to you on that. And I WILL come back, honest.

Grannymar: How very dare you, peeping in the windows of Nick Towers. You weren't meant to see my new summer dress just yet.

e said...

and there I was, thinking you drew that doodle of yourself as a chicken...

John Gray said...

Oh dear....
Well we all like the nick we see

Nick said...

e: Perhaps I'm really a chicken and not a human being at all?

John: I think some people like me more than others. There may even be people out there who hate my guts, who knows? But I'm glad you like what you know of me....

Nick said...

Okay, Kylie, here's how I think you see yourself (or maybe how I see you): compassionate, religious, witty, humorous, perceptive, adventurous, independent-minded, sexy, determined. In particular, determined to establish yourself as a doula. How's that?

kylie said...

thats really flattering! so wheres the bad stuff :)
i think i am pretty much most of that, though i nearly lost heart on the doula-ing for a couple of days there

Nick said...

Kylie: Okay, negatives - sometimes angry, impatient, bossy, headstrong. Am I right?

Wisewebwoman said...

I think too much self-awareness can be strangling to one's spontaneity, Nick, there has to be a balance and why should anyone care what others think of them? the people who love us continue to do so and those that have a problem with us don't matter in the long run.
Too much soul-searching can be crippling.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Actually I've never found that, that too much soul-searching can be crippling. I think if I understand myself better, I also understand others better, and that makes it easier to communicate.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

There are some very deep questions in this post. How do we see ourselves? Are we capable of more honesty as we grow older? Is it possible to ever get a true picture of the person we are? Wow.

I ponder these things, too. Some people never do, and I honestly believe that makes them happier people. However, one thing I have learned in my journey so far through life; these are questions which are asked mostly by intelligent people. I'm generalising, of course, but - generally speaking - those at the lower end of the IQ scale will ask themselves fewer searching 'what's it all about?' type questions than those above average. And then you go further up the 'tree' and you find the 'Sheldons' who are so damned smart that they have better things to think about. Or at least, they think they do!

Yes, that was a tad tongue-in-cheek, but nevertheless it's true that increased intelligence (just like money) does not always bring happiness.

"The more likely reality is that I'm just the same old half-intelligent, well-meaning muddler who somehow staggers through life without unleashing total chaos and upsetting everyone in sight"

Hahahaha! That made me laugh, and do you know why? You could be describing ME! And in fact, you don't come across as a 'well-meaning muddler' at all, but a smart and sensitive person who actually cares about others and the impact he has on the world.

Let's face it: nobody has all the answers. That's not what life is about, is it?

Nick said...

Jay: I think you're right that a lot of people (not necessarily less intelligent) don't ask these questions at all. They just think, I am what I am, life is what it is, and they just try to get the most out of everything and enjoy themselves. Fair enough.

"A smart and sensitive person who actually cares about others and the impact he has on the world." Well, thanks very much for that!*blushes*

Nick said...

By the way, Jay, thanks for all your very thoughtful comments on so many posts. Way beyond the call of blog duty and much appreciated!

Ursula said...

Who says that our picture of when we were young was "distorted"? If ever we are accurate as to our potential, and who we really are, it's preciously BEFORE some (not all) of us were given a mind makeover.

I am fully with WWW's response. In fact, I could kiss her. Kylie I'd also kiss, though for different reasons: She can be wicked, tongue in cheek, when she wants to be. John, I'd kiss regardless. Whether he wants it or not.

You may wish to read up on the flower, at this time of year pushing its head through the soil, and its mythical/mythological origins: Namely, the 'Narcissus'.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: I can't agree that we know our potential when we're young. There are whole areas of our personalities that we've never properly explored, which could take us in all sorts of unexpected directions.

Narcissus fell in love with the beauty of his reflection. There's nothing very beautiful in my own reflection - I would say it's somewhere between ordinary and vaguely attractive.

Cheerful Monk said...

I figure we're all a bunch of nuts, why should I be any different? I just read a great quote, "Life is all about finding people who are your kind of crazy." That's what blogs are about, right?

bonsaimum said...

I gave up worrying how people 'saw' me years ago. If you go through life with consideration for others but stand up for yourself when something is not right, then not much more can be asked of person. :)

Nick said...

Monk: A very good quote. Show me someone who's normal and I'll show you a brilliant actor.

Bonsaimum: Consideration for others but standing up for yourself is a good formula. One I follow myself.

Rummuser said...

As it happens often in your posts, you have posed a question to which I can respond with flippancy or with great philosophical saber rattling.

I will settle for the second just to be different from most of the comments bar an inkling from WWW on spontaneity.

The I is the subject that identifies all objects including its own body, mind and intellect. In other words, it is different from the body, mind and intellect.

Nobody but the subject I can then dis-cover the I. Once that is achieved, life is lived spontaneously.

What Nick calls the real Nick is the object, therefore since it is ephemeral, it is unreal. The real Nick is the bloke who says "Certainly not me."

Have I confused you enough?

Nick said...

Ramana: Blimey! Yes, totally confused. The real and the unreal? The subject and the object? Excuse me while I have a little lie-down....

Eryl said...

What do you need to know about yourself?

I had to find out what my true values were, and what I needed in order to be content. It took me years of self reflection, but I worked it out, and now I am free to be spontaneous. So I agree with Socrates, that the unexamined life is not worth living, and Ramana who seems to be saying something along the same lines. Though I'm not convinced that all the components of the self (mind, body, I) are separate, and that some aren't real. I'm more with Nietzsche on that one.

I like your muddling.

Nick said...

Eryl: I admire you for having worked out what your true values are. My own true values are still rather hazy, and I'm only intermittently content. I do agree that the unexamined life is not worth living, that you would sleepwalk blindly through everything. I also don't see the components of the self as separate - to me they're all closely entwined. All I know is that at my advanced age I'm still far from clear who and what I am.

Liz said...

That's me! The well-meaning muddler - the difference being that occasionally I do leave chaos in my wake ...

I like to think I know myself well and I think I have equal awareness of my bad and good points, but then, as you say, I see how warped other people's perceptions of themselves can be - but are they just giving that impression? Can you really not know yourself well?

And if they don't, do I?

Now you've got me going in circles ...


Nick said...

Liz: I think the question is, do you often surprise yourself with your own behaviour? Do you say, why on earth did I do that? In that case, maybe you don't know yourself as well as you think....

Liz said...

I did suddenly say, 'velociraptor,' the other day ...

Nick said...

Liz: Well, there you are, you see, you have unsuspected dinosaur-loving qualities. Another part of yourself you were unaware of....