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Knowing yourself

May 23, 2006   

I feel like I know myself pretty well. But the other day, I stopped to think about what I know about myself (and the world) now, versus what I thought I knew about myself (and the world) ten years ago.

I thought I knew it all! I already thought I knew myself pretty well back then. I honestly thought I could assess myself, my motivations, and my actions pretty well. But when I think about how much more I know now, I realize I was a buffoon. And certainly, my 20 year old self thought my 10 year old self didn’t know crap, but I was already a know-it-all by then.

And most undoubtedly, I will think of my almost-thirty self as a buffoon of supposed-self-awareness when I am forty. 😀

And I’m ok with that. As long as I realize that I have a long way to go, and that I do not in fact know it all, I think I’m doing ok.

A part of the problem of maintaining a web presence is that I can find crap I wrote 10 years ago:

in 7th grade, i was what they called in the earlier sixties a hair-hopper. go rent “hairspray” if you don’t know what i mean. anyway, i had big hair, and i was much into being popular. hahahahahah. will i be laughing at the way i am now, in about 10 years? nah, it’ll happen much sooner than that. [snip] since i am now 20, i can act as if it’s been ages since i was a teen. it’s some sort of a law written in some sort of a guide book for ahem, adults.

OMG, I read some of the stuff on that page and want to run away screaming in horror, but hey, a part of self-awareness is looking back at who I was and… uh… shaking my head at myself and running screaming into the night examining the multiple ways in which I have changed.

I used to be much harder, harsher, judgmental, self-righteous, and black & white about things. I’d so kick my ass if I met past-self on the streets. Except I wouldn’t want to be a bully. Hmm.

Now, I’m much more cognizant of subtleties of individual situations and the grays in life. I’m much more loving & forgiving of myself and the people around me. I’m much better at being a friend to someone, although I still need a lot of work ahead of me.

Overall, I’m quite happy with who I am and who I am learning to become.

When I’m 40, I’ll surely link back to some crap I wrote this year. 😀

11 Comments
A_B
May 23, 2006 at 5:27 pm

“the more you know, the more you realize how little you know.”

It makes more and more sense the older you get, I think.

Over time, I actually think I’ve lessened my “deep knowledge” of things. The scope of what I know is very broad now, but incredibly shallow.

Back in school, it was the opposite. I new a lot about certain topics, but not a lot of topics.

In any case, the primary consideration or theme in my personal “know yourself” monologue is my weaknesses.

When I was a kid, I saw the world as completely open to me. I could do anything if I set my mind to it.

As I got older, I saw doors closing. I no longer imagined that I would be, whatever, an astronaut, for example. But that realization accelerated until the “doors of opportunity” I could see were few, and I couldn’t figure out how to see any others. I thought it was mainly circumstance and past decisions for where I wanted to go dictating what doors were still open (i.e., if I take class X, I won’t have time to take class Y). They choices were not based on my own fallibility.

Indeed, all the while, I still saw myself as able to achieve almost anything, within this narrowed field of opportunity, as long as I put my mind to it.

However, now, I see what my weaknesses are. I see that, no matter how hard I try, I simply can’t do certain things. And I see _why_ I can’t do those things. I can look in the metaphorical mirror and see what I cannot do.

And to be honest, it’s a little rough to come to grips with your failings. I’m still in the “rough” period. I haven’t fully adjusted to the idea. I simply know what my failings are and watch powerlessly.

I figure I’ll just be used to it, but now it’s annoying to think, for example, I won’t be able to read a dense textbook for 2 hours straight because I _know_ I’ll start dicking around after 30 minutes. I _know_ I don’t have ability to concentrate that long.

That kind of stuff. I won’t rationalize my screwing around as anything other than my inability to buckle down. I would a few years ago.

I think part of getting older is accepting (1) you don’t know everything; (2) you can’t do everything; (3) you are largely the reason for (1) and (2); (4) adjusting to the truth of (3); and (5) working within the reality of (4).

There are upsides, but I’ve rambled long enough.

Andre Alforque
May 23, 2006 at 5:47 pm

There’s no time! /Jack Bauer.

blue girl
May 23, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Sometimes I run away screaming in terror when I read things I wrote last week! I get very weird about re-reading my writing at a later date. It makes me very embarassed for some reason. I’m not sure why. But, it does.

I see I’m under the “Stranger” category. I had a funny thought. There’s “stranger” — like when you don’t know someone — and then there’s…”This groups here is much stranger than the face to screen people up here!”

🙂

blue girl
May 23, 2006 at 7:42 pm

I’ll be back so maybe we won’t be strangers for very long!

(Meant to add that above and clicked too fast!)

Angry Chad
May 24, 2006 at 6:18 am

“Over time, I actually think I’ve lessened my “deep knowledge” of things. The scope of what I know is very broad now, but incredibly shallow.

Back in school, it was the opposite. I new a lot about certain topics, but not a lot of topics.”

Ditto; and to make things worse, I’ve forgotten much of that deep knowledge I used to have. Getting old sucks.

Seppo
May 24, 2006 at 1:28 pm

I don’t know that I’ve say, become more specialized in my knowledge, or lost a degree of ‘deep’ knowledge. I used to be obsessive about bicycles, because I was *always* riding somewhere or another. I retain now almost none of that knowledge, but have traded it for a general knowledge about what’s good v. bad for a bike. Instead, I’ve gained knowledge about games, which is suitable for my work.

The various pieces of general knowledge I have, I don’t think I’m losing to an appreciable degree – I’m just not necessarily gaining any more, simply because I’m not generally exposed to a whole lot of new things on a regular basis.

h
May 24, 2006 at 1:37 pm

Instead, I’ve gained knowledge about games, which is suitable for my work.

Nice excuse. 😉

ei-nyung
May 24, 2006 at 1:48 pm

It’s weird that I posted about self-awareness/knowing yourself, but people commented on their knowledge of the outside world.

Of course, the knowledge of the outside world and your place it in helps you to understand yourself, but it’s the second part I am more intereted in. Dealing with our growing awareness of our lack of knowledge also plays a big role in how we view ourselves, so I do understand what people are saying.

For me, it’s been illuminating to think of why I do certain things and who I’ve become as a result of reacting to my circumstances while preserving a core of who I think I am.

Largely, I remain under the impression that I haven’t changed very much, that I’m much the same person I was in high school, except maybe mellower and “knowing more about knowing less”. But closer examination has shown me that I’m very much different in how I think, feel, and express myself. I know the whys better now.

h
May 24, 2006 at 4:21 pm

10 years ago I wasn’t under any kind of impression that I knew myself very well. I had a fairly well defined persona, but I knew that was different from knowing myself.

My self knowledge has sprung forward in two stages: First, in early 2000 an experience led me to fully realize just how little I knew who I was, and I started to think a lot about my natural inclinations vs. who I wanted to be, and I started to cultivate myself instead of just observing myself.

The second stage has been less jarring and more fluid. I think it started after my motorcycle accident in early 2003. The recovery from that accident coupled with the recent move to Los Angeles, no longer living in the same city as any of my long-haul friends, and having a good relationship for the first time in a long time all combined into something pretty simple: I admitted I was vulnerable, and that being vulnerable didn’t make me less strong.

Ever since I figured that out my life has been getting better and better. I opened myself up to love again shortly after that. I’m a better friend and make new friends more easily. I treat myself better; eat better, exercise, am not afraid to turn down social activities if I need some downtime.

I love who I am now. I also know that I’m still growing and discovering new things about myself. Lately, I’ve noticed that I learn a lot about myself by observing how I react to different people.

* ending on a partial thought 😀 *

ei-nyung
May 24, 2006 at 11:58 pm

Thanks for dropping by, blue girl. I discovered your blog during the nail-biting 2004 election year, and found your blog to be a compelling read, and have put it into my regular rotation. 🙂

kerowack
June 1, 2006 at 4:34 pm

The only thing that aging has done to me is instilled a constant sense of failure.

Not that I have accepted the current situation, but I realize that it’s either

A. the drive I’m lacking
B. The inability to stop nitpicking my own work and just finish something.

Finishing the book was a huge deal for me. I’m the worst procrastinator I know.

I’ll probably hit 30 around 65.

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