What type of person are you?
Becoming Frankenstein's monster
Studenthood, regardless of one’s age or other preconditions, is redefining. But amongst all the new people and experiences to have there is a persistent murmur in the back of my mind that questions how well I know myself at this, supposedly pivotal, stage of my life.
As someone who’s wanted the freedom of a “university student”, since I was old enough to know it was possible, I’m plagued by this endlessly. Especially as an English Lang&Lit student. I find myself taking in endless perspectives and stories which, albeit thought-provoking, can easily turn existential. I feel constantly as if I have never known myself better and yet know nothing about who I am. And quickly, amongst first introductions and meeting new people, I fall into defining myself around that which I consume. The TV shows I’ve binge-watched, the movies I hate, the hobbies I’ve failed to sustain, and the music I listen to.
For a lack of better self-awareness I choose to define myself by the things others are also capable of consuming, in hopes that them knowing my favourite movie makes it easier to know me. Before I know it I become trapped by what I love. “Are you THIS type of person™, or THIS type of person™?” — as if everything about my identity can be defined by a series of binary decisions.
And we are made up of what we love. Of the things we were taught as children by our family members, of the stories we heard friends tell at sleepovers, of the recipes we picked up from watching others cook. Similarly, we love the media we love because we find ourselves in it.
I find however, that it’s not really about watching less TV, spending less money, or getting off social media (although those can be healthy changes to make), it’s about watching, doing, and experiencing things that are truly stimulating, as opposed to just consuming everything.
To consume without output fills you till you burst and burn out, and all the things you took in become nothing but a fine layer of dust on the mantlepiece of your mind. There must be an output, somewhere to put down the things I feel, a way to build something new from something borrowed. And this is sometimes limited to being creative, writing, art etc — but it’s in everything. Actually trying the recipes I bookmark online, reading the books on my shelves, learning that song on the guitar, using the stickers I bought. Perhaps being a messy mosaic of everything and everyone I have ever loved is the closest I will get to be my own person. By taking parts of the world I love I hope to create a whole version of myself.
I hope with this academic year, this annual year, and all those to come, that it gets easier to know ourselves the way we wish to know others. Intimately and kindly.