Introspecting

This was a required essay for my social psychology class several weeks ago. Last night I suddenly remembered it out of the blue, and I just felt like I wanted to share it. So here.


How can one judge himself or herself? Every minute you already do. In planning what to do next, you judge your thoughts, your actions, your words – to be human is to be self-aware. In fact, Sir said in class that we have the only known system that is self-aware. But are we so aware of how we are aware? In this day and age, it seems we only make micro-evaluations of our actions, and, due to the hustle and bustle of life, we fail to introspect and look at the larger picture.

I would consider myself a rather reflective person. I deeply enjoy contemplating on my own experiences and looking into myself, and I enjoy sharing that with people, so this activity is actually a joy. I understand that the basic question of “Who am I?” has such an elusive total answer, but, as I’ve learned from my Philosophy class, the question and your journey in answering it is far more important than the answer itself. This is especially true in the case of human beings, since we are wont to change and are a myriad of inconsistencies. I don’t believe we’re ever really stagnant. Every day we either become more of what we already are or deviate from it.

Right now, I’m undergoing a lot more change and growing up faster than before, or at least that’s what it feels like. I guess life is really like that, always pushing and pulling us, perpetually molding us. I am 18, I am a junior, I am a Campus Crusade for Christ Key Volunteer, I am a Psyche officer, I am a dormer, I am an InTACT facilitator, I am a beginner in Aikido. I couldn’t say any of those things just four months back. Aside from these roles changing my routine, they’ve literally changed who I hang out with, how I relate to people, and, I suppose, who I am.

Because of these things, now, I am busy. I am far more disciplined with my time than I used to be, and I’m also in far more control of it, since I am staying at a dorm instead of at home. I start preparing for things earlier and I am beginning to stay up late (in the past, my friends would get surprised and/or worried if I was up past 10pm). Now, I choose to rest despite all the things I have to do rather than rest because there is nothing to do. I am beginning to appreciate my friends and loved ones more because I don’t always get to see or hang out with them.

I am stressed, far more than I was before, but honestly, through this, I’ve begun to understand life and myself a little better. I’ve begun to understand anger, especially my own – what gets me pissed, how I act when I’m pissed – and manage it better. I’ve begun to hold on to and be hewn into the value of grace under pressure. I’ve taken on many leadership positions, and I’ve discovered that I’m actually most comfortable leading rather than following (it just somehow comes more naturally, and the anxieties I used to have during group works have suddenly disappeared). I’ve begun to understand that being a leader is more than just taking initiative and managing things. It is also about being an ate (something I was by birthright, but had previously never really got into the role of), caring for those under your charge, and being the captain that goes down with the ship instead of running like a coward or pointing fingers. Leadership is about listening to the voices of others, but also never overlooking your own.

Am I proud of everything I am doing and learning? Definitely. I feel like I’m coming closer to reaching my potential, and how can I be ashamed of that? But these things have also humbled me in ways I have been praying for (I’ve always been pretty self-assured, almost to the point of arrogant hubris). I’ve learned that I know so little, and that I still make so many mistakes. I’ve learned to accept it when I’m wrong, and still be humble enough to try again and learn.

My latest example of this would be my recent MBTI result. I decided to re-take the test, which I have taken multiple times in the past. Lately, my MBTI has slowly been changing, one letter at a time. I used to be an INFP, then some time during the summer I turned into an INTP, and now I’m an ENTP. Changing from an INFP to an INTP was no big surprise or change for me, since my friends have always said I acted more like the latter (especially since I’m analytic and very argumentative). Changing into an extrovert from an introvert, however, shook me up badly. I’ve always been an introvert. Even when I was four and loud and shameless, I also “hated” people (I liked attention, but I couldn’t care less about actually communicating and connecting with them – I preferred to play alone). And really, I liked it that way. I liked the metaphorical arm’s length I placed between myself and others. I felt special, I felt like an individualist – independent and immune to groupthink and unaffected by unjustified criticism, an embodiment of agency. I liked solitude, and I was proud of the fact that I was never lonely, which somewhere along the lines I had translated as needy. Obviously, I was being very, very prideful.

But literally just yesterday, I stopped denying that it was a matter of pride. I acknowledged to myself that what scared me was that I was becoming exactly what I had “looked down on.” It was nasty having to admit that I was even being unjust in my views to begin with – I refused to think I was looking down at anyone. But I got over that and started looking into why I had become an extrovert. I had begun to value community very much over the course of these past few months. I had begun to look for and deeply appreciate solidarity and cooperation and looking out for one another. It seems that now, I am not only interested in individuals, but in groups. I have learned to love and respect not only a select number of people, but also groups. I have also formed deeper bonds with people, trying to honestly listen to them and be sensitive to not only what they think but also what they feel. I’ve learned to care and reach out more. I’ve become friendlier and warmer, kinder and more considerate, a little more empathic. I also handle rapport better, and have a more personalized approach to everyone I meet.

Through all of this, the greatest thing I’ve learned is that, to truly be yourself and be comfortable whoever you’re with, you have to be humble. The greatest confidence comes from a humble heart. And I am exuberant and endlessly thankful that I am learning this now, instead of later in life.

Knowing thyself, as the Greeks advised, is also only possible with humility. And I am again extremely happy and eternally grateful that I am undergoing these stretching, humbling experiences, as these test who I am and make me constantly choose who I want to be, and think about why.

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