“I saw my earlier selves as different people, acquaintances I had outgrown.
I wondered how I could ever have been some of them.”
“People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you ever pulled out an old photo album and while flipping the pages , amid the smiles and laughs and memories, you sit back and say “what an asshole” … or maybe “what a stupid fuck” … or “what a numbskull” … uhm … and you were talking about yourself?
I imagine the majority of us look back at our earlier selves with varying degrees of horror, disappointment and embarrassment <and some positive things>.
That is inevitable.
Sometimes good, sometimes bad … but always sometimes. Speaking of ‘sometimes’ … I sometimes think we need to ponder that a little more often as we have this nagging sense that we are not ‘doing enough’ in the here & now to be better or to better ourselves.
Society certainly sends us a lot of mixed messages about what is good when reviewing “self” in any critical way.
On one hand it celebrates consistency … “you are the same person today than who you were yesterday.”
On the other hand it celebrates change <or adapting> … “you are a different person today than who you were yesterday.”
By the way … I recognize you can actually “own” both of these contradictory thoughts <”you are consistently improving”> but even that comes with some societal mixed messaging.
Society has decided to screw us no matter what we decide and what we do.
What I do know is that 90% of us change over time … hopefully we get better … but we change. We bolt on experiences, good and bad, and soften in some places and harden in others.
This means that 90% of us have some earlier selves we have outgrown.
And, yeah, sometimes we may laugh at them and sometimes we may be horrified by them. But they are us whether we like it or not.
In fact they tend to be nice reflections of how we learn new ways of living. Maybe more importantly they are a nice reflection of how we refuse to inherit bad behavior and bad attitudes.
“Refuse to inherit dysfunction.
Learn new ways of living instead of repeating what you’ve lived through.”
Time and time again we do stupid shit but as time goes by we tend to trade the old stupid shit for new stupid shit. In general this suggests we recognize stupid shit … and don’t like being associated with stupid shit. The bad news for ‘selves’ is that there is most likely more available stupid shit than there are ‘selves’ to discard.
I tend to believe our ability to change and become different people is a confession of our character.
What do I mean?
Whether we consciously do it or not we confess to the world that it deserves better from “me” than the version it is getting every time we decide to change an become a different version.
And … well … I could argue quite easily that this constant changing is actually a consistency n character.
Consistency in that there is an inherent desire to improve and be better … which, unfortunately to those who squint and look hard, translates into inconsistency <consistent change>.
All I know is that if you look back into a photo album and see earlier versions of yourself as different people … you are most likely doing all right.
You are changing based on experience.
That doesn’t mean you won’t wonder how the hell you could have been that way or done something … but … who you are today is not who you were yesterday … and who you will be tomorrow.
“The fact is that five years ago I was, as near as possible, a different person to what I am tonight. I, as I am now, didn’t exist at all.
Will the same thing happen in the next five years? I hope so.