Who We Are

You may remember that a while ago, I posted a short stage piece, here, called Versions, which waxed intellectual (or, at least, mused) on the concept that we are different people, different versions of ourselves around different people. Give it a read and you’ll see what I mean.

Regardless, I’ve heard a lot recently – overheard conversations, celebrity gossip, and so on – of “that’s just who I am”. This is a theme of many pop songs and, in a more bile- and rage-inducing example, Samantha Brick, wrote self-indulgently and idiotically about how other women are jealous of her beauty.

Via The Daily MirrorMust be the bewitching vampiric leer.

There’s a line to be drawn here. Quite a lot of these songs deal with very sensitive issues and are determinedly declaring this is who I am and I’m not ashamed. I have no issue with that, for these can be heartfelt and beautiful stories of struggle against oppression and bullying. Where I do take umbrage is with the opposite of those people – the people who use the phrase “that’s just who I am” to excuse themselves from poor behaviour.

Let’s get this straight, because I think this is important. Who you are is not set in stone. We are all the sum total of our experiences and the more we experience the more we will change. I accept that this is not always for the better and there are people I have known who I’ve seen twisted away from being good people by bad experiences at other’s hands. I can identify times in my life where the who I was then did not act well towards others because of a negative experience. It wasn’t their fault, but the me I was then didn’t care about that. Experiences since have changed that and I’m left with the guilt of those actions and attempts, however futile, to make up for them. I accept, though, that someone’s experiences could lead them to be a bitter, twisted, and joyless person, whose only mode of expression is deprecation of others.

Via Tumblr.comEspecially if they have “not-lupus”.

But, those few cases aside, everyone is subject to change. Everyone experiences things. To say “that’s just who I am” is not just a cover for being a dick to people, it’s also a ridiculous statement unless it has the word “now” at the end. I’m all for Hamlet’s “to thine own self be true”, but forcing people to either accept you or hate you without thought or regard for their feelings or needs just means people will (or should) stop liking you and you’ll be proved wrong the next time you experiences something that changes everything that you are.

Something like love, for example. Love redefines your sense of self and makes you feel like you are something different. It gives you confidence and hope and somewhere safe to hide away from all the bad things in the world and the bad things you see in yourself. And if you refuse to be changed even by the ethereal and overwhelming power of love, I pity you. As Bertrand Russell once wrote “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.”

So, yes, I dislike that phrase and all who use it to demonstrate just how important and superior they are. That’s just who I am.


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