Who am I, anyway?

Who are you, really?

Sperm-egg

The moment of conception, when you were created. (Public domain)

You’re a unique organism, created once and only once, never to be repeated again in the multi-trillion year lifespan of the universe. You’re a blink in this grand scheme of time. You’re not even a chapter, paragraph, word, or letter in the book that tells the story of the world.

During my last Duke of Edinburgh expedition, I was lying on my back on a beach looking at the stars one night. Our camp was away from any civilization whatsoever as far as the eye could see. The only unnatural light that night was the flickers of our flashlights. And the stars, trillions and trillions of them, light years away, sprayed across the sky like spilled milk. As true as any Milky Way diagram in your childhood encyclopedia.

It was the first time I’d seen so many stars, being the city kid as I am. And it made me feel so profoundly insignificant that all my problems were, literally, mathematically, nothing in this universe. A universe where stars like our sun with solar systems spinning around them are born, live, and die in the blink of a few billion years.

I’m so unsure of everything: my opinions, my faith, my attitude towards other people. I’m not even sure if I’m really me sometimes, or just some collage of personalities, interests, and attributes copy-and-pasted from my parents, my friends, and my idols. I don’t know why I do certain things: to please someone? To make a point? Why can’t I do this, or like that, because it’s what want, because it’s part of who I am?

If you’re around my age with the help of modern medicine, you’ll probably disappear and never come back again in a little less than a century. So why waste your time trying to be bits of something else?

When you’re gone, will you be gone? Or would we merely have lost another version of something?

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5 thoughts on “Who am I, anyway?

  1. Pingback: Post-Travel Identity Crisis Follow-up Post (Study Abroad reflections pt.4.5) | breakfast with words

  2. Yay.
    It hardly feels like anyone else admits that life is like this you know? I’ve been thinking a lot about each generation which has been fed different ideas: for our generation it’s that “you’re special” and ‘be individual” and “being a parent is a special rewarding thing.” You’re special because then parents will be less likely to dump children and leave a burden on the state or buy more toys for you, and parenting is special so that parents will labour through the extremely money intensive thankless job to raise you. And of course being individual pumps more money into the economy through your interests and expands the economy through the variety of them. In past years it might have been about being a soldier; how we might we born with the duty to serve our country and to “love your neighbours” so people would share their food with others despite the fact that your own family might be starving. The truth is we need some salve to cover the suffering of being tiny but sadly sentient being under that spray of stars. The truth is that most people don’t get the time to realize that being that small and insignificant has its advantages: yes, we get to choose who influences us and other times we don’t, and have so many ways we can live our lives, and so many places to explore, but when we die our mistakes will die with us…(Until now, with global warming)

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    • Expanding on what wrider said at the end there >> “being that small and insignificant has its advantages: … when we die our mistakes will die with us”

      Perhaps the beauty in life is that we are insignificant. It situates us as small parts of something bigger than ourselves. And by releasing us from the duty of reaching a certain bar of significance, we are free to produce anything of any amount of significance. In short, our significance is not in ourselves, but in our place in the whole picture, and if we’re not here to do something great, then anything we do can be considered great. In other words, it’s not about us, so the idea of achieving unique significance is irrelevant.

      Anyway, I believe that; it doesn’t really matter who you are. You could be just bits of copy-paste from other people, things, ideas, and that would be perfectly fine. Finding your individuality is, like wrider said, a gen-y concept (read: total social construct) and not necessarily one of the keys to life. Besides, nothing comes from nothing: if you weren’t copy-pasted then I don’t know where you came from. 😉

      tldr; you are whatever you are, no need to stress about it 😉

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      • the tldr is perfect haha and really the more copy paste you are the more you have experienced of this world as insignificant as you may be…The question now is is that a concept that you arrive at through prism of experience, or is that something that can be taught? What if our generation was taught something else, ie that we were insignificant? Maybe even those ideas would be bad; maybe you have to arrive at it yourself. I dunno. Haha.

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