Strip away where I work, what I do, and what I have — and there is very little left, I have recently discovered. Who am I, without the layers I have put upon myself based on societal expectations, even without the ones people have consciously tried to put upon me?
It is like a convoluted mess of intersecting layers. I no longer knew which of my ambitions are truly mine, or borne out of a desire to prove myself to the world. I had always felt a constant burning need to prove myself, as though that is the only way I can truly convince myself to have somewhat of a stake in our future.
We are mostly known through the work we do. But how much of this work represents our true selves? How much of me, do you actually know, without the perceptions that comes along with my industry, my position, and my workplace? Do you follow me on twitter because I am a designer and I tweet about design (which I hardly do), or do we share a common interest and responsibility in the future of this world?
I am a lot more than the professional work I do, it is only but an expression of the person I am. I am the stories I tell, the values I hold, the hopes I have, the imagination I want to realize, the philosophical debates I make, the narratives I identify with, the people I love, the humanity I wish to embrace. All of that comes to naught, when it is tampered when I am known as the designer who works at x.
I am coming into a view that the things I do at work is integral to my identity, but it is not my identity. Everything else is as important — the books I read, the people I am with, the thoughts I contemplate, the craft I come across, the non-professional work I do, and that includes writing posts like this.
I had allowed my career to define me. It was my career, that determined whether I was worth a place in society, whether I was accomplished, whether I could even start being proud of myself.
Only now, that I realized what is most important, is the pride I feel for myself. Pride that is enduring, that doesn’t fade away with what I accomplish or not. That pride that is sustainable, does not come from my career or the things I have, but the person I dare to be.
I started to peel away those layers, layers that I was not even aware that were there, to begin with.
I was left with almost nothing. It is scary to know that I exist on a foundation so devoid of my self. Yet it started to feel like an actual blank canvas, a canvas that I can fill out of my own free will and deliberation. I want to fill the canvas that things I want to be there. It can include messy blots, accidental spills, but more importantly, it will be filled with colors and forms that will be created out of a conscious identity that I build for myself, not one that is assumed for me.
The work I do, will be the by-product of the ownership of my consciousness and will, the expression of my being — no longer will it be defining the person I am capable of becoming. I, will define what I want to accomplish, and not let my accomplishments define me.
The story I want to tell on my deathbed, is that I have lived and loved to the best of my capacity and consciousness, that I have lived on nothing but my own terms.
That is the way I want to change this world, to be a human being capable of existing with love and conscious deliberation, without a hint of jadedness of cynicism, because perhaps the world can fail me, but I didn’t fail myself.
That is the narrative, that I am constructing for myself.