Who am I?

An English sentence with 6 letters, 3 words, and 1 punctuation mark. A simple, straightforward question, with an infinite number of answers.

Of late I have been struggling to provide one satisfactory answer to this question and I initially thought the reason for this is because there are actually many different versions of me. And each version will depend on who you consult with, be it:

  • My family
  • My colleagues
  • My friends
  • My partner
  • My exes
  • My online presence
  • My past
  • My future
  • My thoughts
  • My ambitions
  • My regrets
  • My insecurities
  • My fears
  • My skeletons, or
  • My demons

Each and every one of the aforementioned will hold firmly onto a slightly different idea of who Benjamin Jacob Mmari is, and while all these concepts of me might be valid to a certain degree, it is still blatantly incorrect to even begin to think that the idea of who I am can be accurately summed up by anyone or anything.

"Once you label me, you negate me." - Soren Kiegergarrd

I am not my occupation. I am not my appearance. I am not my actions. I am not a collection of adjectives. I am not an accumulation of memories. I am not the sum total of my achievements, qualifications, or awards. I am not a list of my failures, shortcomings, weaknesses, or insecurities.

The crazy thing is, I am not even the person that I think I am. Because one cannot form a complete, accurate, and objective understanding of something that they have only ever experienced from a heavily biased, personal, and subjective perspective.

"Who I am" can't even be regarded as a static concept, because this idea of who I am is fluid. It's a dynamic, continuous interaction between myself and my environment. Never constant, ever-changing.

One can never fully define themselves because one can never fully isolate themselves, and the reality of our human experience is that we do not and cannot live life in a vacuum:

  • Who I am when I am alone is not who I am when I'm socializing.
  • Who I am when I love you, is not who I am when I resent you.
  • Who I am during moments of confidence is not who I am when I am overwhelmed by my insecurities.

As soon as there is an attempt made at defining you - either by yourself or by others - then you have something to live up to. The very moment this definition comes into existence there will be expectations to be met, a concept to adhere to, an idea to hold onto, behaviours to act out and traits to exhibit - but at the end of the day, this definition IS NOT YOU! It is just a model of you, and as the statistician George Box stated:

"All models are wrong, but some are useful"

Final thoughts

Defining who you are does not matter nearly as much as experiencing it and it is only through a combination of exposure, exploration, interaction, isolation and introspection that you can even begin to "know thyself".

But even then, this "knowledge" is limited and ephemeral, because in reality there isn't and can never be a "real you". There is only a set of finite patterns that you have fallen into.