I believe that time at university is the best time for self-discovery. For many, change is accepted to be a good thing. So when we meet new people, do new things, go to new places, we adopt new lifestyle choices and new attitudes. This is generally good. It helps us find out who we really are and what makes us happy. But there’s this trend that I would like to voice my concerns about: changing who we are for the sake of changing, because either it is ‘cool’ to change, or we think that the old self is beneath us and is a source of shame.
I’ve known many people who say that they do not know themselves well enough, and that they want to try everything to discover what makes themselves special. Fair enough. But it comes to a point where they use it as an excuse to just change and follow whatever is in trend now, only to change completely when the new trend changes. My question is, if you are a trend follower, and a hardcore trend follower at that, what exactly makes you special?
The other type of person that I have my concerns about, and would like to focus on, are people who experience a great growth in achievement because of who he was, and then decides that because of his successes, he thinks that his old self is a source of shame and inferiority.
A personal example would be family restaurants that make it big. With some of these restaurants, I have been their early customers. I enjoyed dining at these places because the ambience was charming and comfortable and the people manning the restaurants made you feel like family. Oh, and of course, the food tasted heavenly, and was always garnished with a pinch of love.
Because of these charming personal touches, people like me really, really love such restaurants. But then again, who doesn’t like them? So people start pouring into these restaurants. Due to the success now achieved, the restaurants begin to realise that they can start cutting corners since they feel they can get away with anything. They think the good fame that they enjoy is enough to carry them on, and the good times will last.
The staff becomes arrogant and unwilling to serve, the food becomes bland at best or vile at worst and the prize for all this agony? A huge, enormous, bombastic, extravagant, US Government, debt-sized bill to pay. It leaves one feeling, what a total rip-off. Before long, some of these restaurants lose their customer base, and their business dies. They go out, writing in the newspapers that the community is losing a heritage. Well, all I can feel is that, the heritage was lost long before the business died. They could have changed this by not changing what made them famous in the first place.
Reflecting on my life, I realise that I have personally lost many opportunities for development and growth because I too have committed this sin of losing myself. And more importantly, I have lost many good friends the same way as I no longer feel comfortable with some people whom I have called friends for a long time, also due to them changing for the worse.
All I can say is that I realise the true meaning of knowing oneself, is knowing what to change and improve, at the same time, knowing what to keep. Because some qualities that we have always had, is what truly makes us special.