I watched a video this past week where Hank Green muses about our concept of the self. In it, he said the phrase, “you make you”. I’m kind of captured by this idea.
I realize I’ve always believed the opposite. I’ve always thought of my “self” as something hidden away, something that I must discover, and that upon finding my “self” I would then have identity and wholeness. Identity has always been out there, bestowed upon me by others, and I must find the right identity to finally become my own self.
And that is a bunch of horse shit.
No one else get’s to tell me who I am. People may confirm that I have worth, value, that I am accepted, but no one get’s to define me. Waiting around for that definition has left me stuck and unproductive, floating on the tide of ever-changing trends and culture. I have insisted that someday I would be myself, and then I could pursue my passion. that waiting can lead to a wasted life.
The big truth is this: you and I both get to stop waiting for permission to receive our identity; you and I get to come out of the closet and declare the self we want to be. We are not searching out there somewhere for an identity. We are making it in the fires of right now. These moments these choices, these words, these dreams, these days: this is where I make my self. Right here is where I am fashioning and forming my identity.
This all sounds nice and pithy, but what does it mean? Is this just another inspiring speech to applaud and feel jazzed up about? Is this some esoteric philosophy that can be visualized but never really changes my life?
For me, the concept of “you make you”, in practical terms, means this: I am allowed to be who I fully imagine my self to be. I am allowed to like the style the music, the colors I choose to like. I am not bound by anyone else’s concept of acceptable and proper. I am allowed to be courageous about my own fears. I am allowed to pursue the goals I want. I am allowed to be as artistic and eccentric as I want.I am allowed to care as boldly as I want. I am allowed to make my own decisions in life. I am allowed to learn and to grow. I am allowed to be excited about whatever I want. I am allowed to craft my own identity.
I am allowed to make my self into the person I want to be.
This is a lifelong journey. It’s certainly not a simple overnight or weekend retreat kind of thing. There is shaping involved. There are choices to be made. There are dreams yet to come and experiences yet to be met. This is not something that occurs is a vacuum, and I am choosing to learn to be the kind of self that loves others.
Making your self is not an easy task… but it is necessary.
The world needs you. The world needs me. God has graciously given us life and free choice to imagine the best self we can. Without you, without me, the world suffers and knows goodness a bit less.
Make your self; for the good of us all.