August 5, 2015

Who I Am, By Way of Who I Am Not.


In the age of Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds, Instagram and online dating, it’s easy to feel like we’ve become several different people, living many different lives all at once.

We tweet and post words and images that we believe, if compiled, will surely piece together the image of who we really are. Someone said to me the other day, “I almost reached out to you to see if you were okay, but based on your Facebook posts, you seemed really happy.”

This really made me think—as this is not the truth at all—I am struggling in life, in this moment, right now. So, I wondered, Am I really the person who posts on Facebook? How is that person different from the one sitting behind the computer? Better yet, Who am I really?

I found it easiest to answer by compiling a list of “who I am not” as to strip everything away and discover what is left. Here is the list. It, like life, is not perfect or without things to be added. Please feel free.

I am not my posts, reposts or tweets.
I am not the number of likes I got on that baby picture from so long ago.
I am not the words I speak, the words I put down on paper or the keys I strike.
I am not the clothes I wear or how I choose to adorn my body.
I am not a number on a scale; my worth is not measured out in inches.
I am not a hashtag or a one-liner.
I am not my fears, my worries, my misfortunes or my anxieties.
I am not my job, the degrees on my wall, my hobbies, my passions or my namesake.
I am not my diagnosis.
I am not my thoughts.
I am not my thoughts. (This one needed to be in here twice.)
I am not what people say I am. (This includes what I say about myself.)
I am not what people think of me, or how they treat me.
I am not a label to be placed on my forehead and worn as a scarlet letter.
I am not my friends, my family, my culture or my race.
I am not my financial status, where I live or the car I drive.
I am not my religion, my lack thereof or my devotion.
I am not my emotions.
I am not the mistakes I have made, the excuses I’ve uttered or the failures I’ve endured.
I am not my “stuff”—the things I hide behind, hoping will qualify me to fit in somewhere.
I am not my jokes, my sarcasm or my silence.
I am not my hopes or my dreams.
I am not the places I’ve been, or the photos stored in my iPhone or that hang on my wall.
I am not my past. I am not my future.

After all of this is stripped away, I am the only thing that remains. I am the one who watches. I am the one who sees all of these things, is aware of all of these things and notices when they come and go, as they surely will. I am the consciousness of everything around me. I am the one behind the biggest computer of all, that never changes. I am pure awareness. I am…

With our focus on the screen in front of us instead of the heart inside of us, knowing who we are becomes harder as we become lost in the digital world. Perhaps that’s the allure of the social media scene—we are able to engineer a completely controlled “life” for everyone to see. Even our worst days have the perfect quote to accompany them and put it all into perspective. And in that moment when the person we haven’t spoken to in 10 years “likes” something, suddenly we feel a connection to someone, and we’re not alone.

I’ll admit. I like that moment. But the desires of the human heart don’t change though the decades may: to be truly loved, to connect, to be in community and to know we’re not alone.

So how can we stay in tune with our true self in an age where our best friend is our iPhone, our thoughts are exchanged without saying a word, and true human connection seems harder to find?

My best advice is to try not to lose sight of the most important connection of all—the one we have with us. Inside. And as we all go along on our journeys to discover who we are, refuse to mistake a “like” for a hug, a “tag” for friendship, or a text for meaningful conversation.

Who I am is who I’ve always been. The one whose status never changes. May we all be well.


Author: Carla Morris

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Image: Flickr

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Carla Morris