More and more often we hear and read something about the need, the duty, or the right to be “one’s self”.
I do not know how many of you know what these words mean. To me they always raise the question, “Who are we?”
The answer is usually bound to the goal pursued by the one who claims the right to be “myself.” The rookie writer claims greater visibility, believing himself a misunderstood artist, and is convinced that his self is a literary genius. The woman who wants to break free from family commitments considers herself a slave of machismo and will go to extreme lengths to claim that her self is a butterfly hovering in the air. The student who aspires to receive a passing grade is convinced that he is a victim of the meritocratic system, and believes that his true self does not need any school degree.
But have these people really spent their “selves” in the figures of misunderstood artist, slave of machismo, or victim of the system? Obviously not; it depends on the domain of the self that is called into question, because everyone has many roles, each of which builds a self: son, student, worker, and many others.
Personally, I have long since stopped conceiving of myself as a unified structure, I just try to keep the peace among the ranks of my “selves” while sharing a thought from Osho Rajneesh:
Self-knowledge is a negative process. You cannot know yourself directly; you can simply go on eliminating objects of knowledge. Continue to eliminate them.