Right... So I know that I disappeared for a while, and I apologise deeply for that. Part of it had to do with not having much to say, but also had a lot to do with the fact that life got a tad overwhelming and I didn't deal with it as well as I probably could/should have. Sorry about that.
Anyway; so over these last few months, I have found myself in a state of self-reflection even more so than usual. In part, because of the English module I've been studying this semester.
So in Critical Theory (it's as stressful as it sounds), we learnt about this little theory from a guy called Roland Barthes. Barthes says that due to the fact that we all collectively use the word 'I' to represent the semblance of 'I', the word itself loses the meaning of the concept. Of course, this sent me into yet another existential crisis. However, it did also prompt a question. Who the heck am I? And how am I displaying 'I' to the world around me?
*WARNING: THIS BLOG IS RIDICULOUSLY LONG. ONLY READ IT IF YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE*
- Part 1: How do I see myself?
- Part 2: How do others see me?
- Part 3: Who does my faith say I am?
Part 1- HOw do i see myself?
It's strange really, how we choose to describe ourselves. I also find it interesting how we describe ourselves differently in different settings. Below are three examples of how I've described myself, and each one is slightly different, which intrigues me. Why do I feel the need to change the perception of myself that I display to different people on the internet?
If I was asked to sum myself up in 5 words, the ones I would use are as follows:
If I were asked to describe my strengths and weakness, I would say the following (Strengths in Bold/ Weaknesses in Italics):
- I put a lot of effort into making sure others reach their full potential
- I always say too much/have a habit of not being able to keep my mouth shut
- I'm a good listener
- I'm not very good at putting my own priorities aside to do things that others value (e.g housework)
- I'm creative and have a vivid imagination
- I have horrifically bad self-control
- I'd do anything for the ones I love
- I'm much too sensitive and place way too much value in others' opinions of me
As you can see, I really do pride myself in being a good friend, and it's one of the things I love the most about myself. Although I can occasionally be too selfless, I like the fact that people always know that they can come to me with their problems and I'll do my best to support them both practically and emotionally. I do talk too much, and way too loudly, but again, this is another aspect of myself that I don't hate anywhere near as much as I used to, as people enjoy talking to me, and it also means that I am able to share my own experiences to help others. In fact, that's a facet of my personality that has only really shown itself in the last year or so too, I've become a lot more open and honest. I know for a fact that some people think that I'm too open, and others assume that I've always been this way and that I just find it easy to disclose personal information about myself to whoever's there. This isn't actually the case. If I choose to open up; it means one of two things- a) I'm comfortable with you and trust you or b) I want to share this aspect of myself because i think it could benefit other people (which is the reason why I'm so damn open about my personal life on this blog). I have a very self- deprecating sense of humour, and I'm always quick to make a joke or two. I'm not necessarily very funny, but I like to have fun. I'm passionate about books and films (obviously) and I love the art of storytelling and hope that one day I'll be somewhat decent enough at it so that I can make a profession from it.
In terms of things I need to learn a thing or two about... I've got to stop placing my value in what other people think of me. I love myself, and I believe in a God that loves me because he made me in his image (I'll come back to that in sub-section 3). That should be all I need; yes it's nice to feel liked, and we can learn a lot about ourselves through other people (which i'll cover in sub-section 2), but in reality, it's nowhere near as big a deal as i make it out to be. I need to learn to stop procrastinating too, as it gets me into worlds of trouble. Another thing I need to work on is being more assertive. I'm not very confident in making my decisions known to others, as I get scared that I'll say something wrong. Really, I need to just scrap all my anxiety and fears of getting things wrong/ saying the wrong thing and I'd be in a much better place. I need to learn to say no. Everyone in my immediate family has this problem, and I'm very aware that I get it from them, but I really do need to stop taking on so much and trying to please everyone! If I am negatively impacting myself in my attempts to help others, is it really a good thing?
Another thing that I know about myself is that I like having clear- cut labels and categories to put myself into. I know that sounds bad, and we shouldn't label others/ ourselves, but I mean more so that I like knowing things like Personality types and such. It's common knowledge, and something of a joke within my friendship group that I care way too much about knowing two specific things about people: their MBTI and Hogwarts House. In fact, I even keep a document saved on my phone with a list of all my friends'...
Myers- Briggs is a Personality test which separates people into one of 16 personality types. Thanks to my friend Rad, I have developed an avid interest in this test, and I love seeing how I reflect my own type, as well as how my friends reflect the types they are. However, I need to put less faith in this to define who I am. Yes it's interesting, but it shouldn't found the entire basis of my identity, which I do let it sometimes. I am an INFJ, yes, but actually it's a fluctuating thing. At times, I know for a fact that I display many ENFJ traits, and when I retook the test earlier today, it said I was an INFP, though I know that that one's not true.
The other thing that I love knowing is people's Hogwarts houses. Yes, I'm a Harry Potter nerd; No, I don't care how sad it is. I even make people who've never read the books/ watched the films, take the test. Although there are only four categories, I think that Hogwarts houses can say a lot about not just a person's personality, but their values. I am a Ravenclaw, and although I know that it's a lot of people's least favourite house, I'm actually rather proud to identify myself with that.
Anyway, although all of that constitutes the size of one of my regular blog posts: that is sub-section 1 of this.
Part 2- How do others see me?
Yes it's not the most important thing in the world, but as aforementioned, I do think that we can learn a lot about ourselves from the people around us, and the ways in which we act/ adapt around them. One of the reasons for writing this blog is because after a lot of my old friends from home had commented on my neglecting them for my uni friends; I couldn't help but question whether I was compartmentalising my life. Subsequently, I wondered whether I acted wildly different in those two settings, and whether the versions of Rehana that they see are similar or different. So I conducted a little field research. I texted a load of people, half of which I've known since starting university in September, and half of which I've been friends with much longer (as in since school), and I asked them to describe me using 3 words. I wrote these 3 words out on a load of post-it notes, and I placed them next to each other- the blue ones are people I've known for months, and the pink ones are people I've known for years:
If you want the stats a bit more clearly than in that picture, the words that came up most frequently are:
- chatty/talkative - 4 times
- thoughtful- 3 times
- loving- 3 times
What my Mum said to me may sound harsh, but it's okay, because I know that she has a different perception of 'thoughtfulness' and that's just down to our different priorities. She thinks of it as me being proactive and using my initiative, both of which, admittedly, I'm pretty awful at doing. I know that my friends mean it in the sense that I think a lot about them and what I can be doing to be a good friend to them.
So yeah, that has been a look into how other people see me: if you ever meet me, I encourage you to draw your own conclusions, but also not to write off what these guys have said, as all of them know me pretty well, I think. :)
Part 3- who does my faith say I am?
A lot of people think that religion just puts a lot of limitations on your life, and that it's just a load of stuffy rules to stop you from having fun. I don't think that at all, and I want to take out the time to remind people that it is completely my own choice to choose to live a life that is Biblically sound. It is my own choice to wait until I'm married before I have sex. It is my own choice to not get drunk or do drugs. It is my own choice to (try to) not swear. These are all choices that affect my life in pretty big ways, because they are counter-cultural choices to make. However, I choose and continue to choose to live my life in that way, because I believe that in doing those things I am reflecting Jesus and the life that I believe he wants us to live.
Being a Christian isn't my religion, it's my identity, and it's one that I'm very proud of. Although it can be laughed at and frowned upon and misunderstood by people, I know that being Christian helps me day-in day-out, and God actually tells me a lot about who I am through his Holy Spirit guiding my conscience, but also through His word- the Bible.
So here are some verses from the Bible that remind me of who I am, and help me out in these times of existential crisis when I forget who I am, at the core of my being at the end of the day:
"MIGHTY HERO; THE LORD IS WItH YOU" - JUDGES 6:12
"I PRAISE YOU BECAUSE I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE; YOUR WORKS ARE WONDERFUL, I KNOW THAT FULL WELL." - PSALM 139:14
"BUT YOU BELONG TO GOD, MY DEAR CHILDREN. YOU HAVE ALREADY WON A VICTORY OVER THOSE PEOPLE, BECAUSE THE SPIRIT WHO LIVES IN YOU IS GREATER THAN THE SPIRIT WHO LIVES IN THE WORLD"- 1 JOHN 4: 4
"SHE IS WORTH FAR MORE THAN RUBIES." -PROVERBS 31: 10
"FOR HE CHOSE US IN HIM BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD TO BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS IN HIS SIGHT."- EPHESIANS 1:4
"SHE IS CLOTHED WITH STRENGTH AND DIGNITY; SHE CAN LAUGH AT THE DAYS TO COME."- PROVERBS 31:25
Sorry that I didn't offer you much advice in this one, but I hope you all feel like you understand me a lot better now than you did before. I'll post a link to this blog on my About page so that you can always re-read it if you want a refresher.
So yeah... I guess that's me in a nutshell. I hope it was interesting.