For a very long while I was contented in the idea that I was made up of pieces of everyone I’ve known. There is something comforting in the idea that you’re a walking talking memento. That you’re a collection of memories. That the habits and language of others have rubbed off on you. Even when they aren’t there, you have them with you. Sometimes I notice myself doing things or saying things that are pieces of someone I don’t know anymore. It’s like reaching into your pocket for something – a penny, a key, something to center you. Except in this case I’m reaching into myself and I’m finding you.

I guess it’s been concerning me lately.The closer I get to people the more I realize that I don’t know who I am. It is too easy to find myself absorbing what’s around me. Who am I, without them? Is there even an answer to that question? If you were alone, forever alone, always alone, who would you be? Excluding the fact that you wouldn’t make it out of infancy (social connection! physical stimulation! love! affection!) I think about this a lot.

I try to separate who I am and what I like from everyone else around me and the things that they provide to me. What kinds of movies do I like? What kinds of music do I like? What books would I read if I’d never been recommended one? How would I talk? What would I be interested in learning? Where would I go with my life? Where would I be living? Deeper than that, I guess, what would my moral compass look like? Would I have one without the people around me? How would it develop? Is that something I’m born with? Do different people come with different moral compasses? What is moral relativity?

There are lots of great quotes about finding freedom in truly accepting and loving oneself. It’s easy to think “of course”. There are a lot of things that have seemed obvious to me up to this point. It’s taken me this long to realize that I’m not sure who I am. Every week or so I figure out something new about myself. I think, oh. Like I’ve discovered it for the first time, even though it’s been there all along.

In one of the first psych classes I took the professor told us that people cement their personality in their mid to late 20s. Who you are then, you will always be, and if you change, well, you’re probably mentally ill. Maybe that’s what I’m experiencing with a -click- every time it happens. Parts of my brain exhausting themselves. Hardening into place. Giving in or giving up. This is who you are now, like it or not, now let me tell you who that is.

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