By Ilda Dashi
Who am I ? Or rather what am I?
As I ask this question, I see thoughts running on a race accompanied by wild emotions. Then, I feel all the feelings, every specific thought produces or provokes in my head as an effort to give me an answer to the “as old as the time itself” question “who am I?”
A thought comes from a tiny window and yells at me “You are your appearance—your looks.” Now this thought makes me feel so afraid and insecure because there are many physical features that I have that I don’t appreciate or like in myself. This thought produces insecurity as a part of the issues with the “poor body image.”
Another thought pushes the other thoughts toward the surface of my inner iceberg so I can hear another answer from my head. It says “you are your gender.”
This thought produces dissatisfaction inside me as it doesn’t sound like an answer at all.
Then in the midst of an orchestra of other voices and thoughts inside my head I hear many other telling me I am this or that—my body, my hair, my eyes, my education, my creativity, my skills etc.
There are thousands and thousands of voices that produce all these thoughts and they create a dead symphony because none of them creates joy or peace inside me. They seem like they belong to some other lyrics my soul has never written, or some old song I have never been introduced to before.
The thoughts that my mind plays continuously seem to not be part of me yet they circulate inside my head. At times they sound like other peoples voices, or at other times they sound like mistakenly self created thoughts whose source is an incorrect perception of the self and the world around.
We are born as “tabula rasa,” which in psychology means “blank slate.” We were purely empty as babies or children, then life’s experiences start to write on us many things that take the shape of words, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perceptions on our “inner blackboard.”
We start believing that what is being written on our inner “slate” is true and correct about us and about anything or anyone else.
We strongly believe what adult caretakers tell us as children, because as tiny creature we don’t know any better. Then as we grow, many of our inner deepest beliefs and actions they produce are living in us subconsciously because we have never questioned them.
Our deepest beliefs are rooted in our childhood.
Today as grown ups we may not even believe this is so, because the subconscious operates on very subtle layers of our psyche; we can’t realize fully or at all how it operates inside our minds. With time we start to understand or realize that many of our old beliefs that operate today as well in our lives, are due to past experiences and the strong feelings that accompanied those experiences.
In other words, we are still living (or should I say re-living) the past many times and again even in our adult lives. Because we took those experiences and the perceptions they brought to us as real and true.
We continue to choose experiences or people that are familiar to us, because we don’t know another way. This is what causes suffering and when all false and past identification starts to collapse with time and new understanding we start to really question: Who am I?
The answer to this question cannot be found in the mind, in our thoughts or feelings which come and go. They are unstable. They can’t tell us who we really are deep down.
This is what I have understood with time and in my own experience. As a part of my culture and mentality, I believed I was the “angry and the spoiled child” of my home for many years because this is what I was told continuously by my family members.
Then I thought I was my good grades and education. I was a very good student at university and took pride in that. I thought for many years I was so good because my grades were good. Then I started my first career as a journalist. I very quickly became a well known journalist. I began to believe and think this was what I was—my career—or should I say my “brilliant” career as a popular journalist.
A few years later, as all these things faded away, I felt empty. This is when I started a new career to derive a new sense of self, so it could again become who I thought I was—a talented person with many skills, a spoiled and irritating person, but just as good my grades.
When the second career failed to give me any sense of self within a year (which was something I didn’t expect), I suddenly felt like my whole world had collapsed once and for all.
I have had difficult periods during all these years of education, good grades and two careers but I somehow managed to cling to them and keep hoping they would make me happy and find who I was.
When they all failed and with them all my previous relationships one by one (the hardest part for me has been the collapse of my romantic relationships one by one), I truly felt like I was going to die.
Everything inside and around me was dying. It was disappearing from my life day by day. I found myself totally empty for days and months together. I felt (still feel at some point) my whole life had come to an end, or as I see it now a chapter of my previous 32 years of life had come to an end.
Endings are not easy at all, trust me. They feel like a sort of death, because that’s what they are.
As things, experiences, people and wrong perceptions start to fade away the inner becomes more and more chaotic. There comes a point when the inner ceases to exist altogether. You don’t have anyone or anything to cling to to derive your sense of self or to give you the answer to the question “Who am I”?
Nothing and no one works anymore for your sense of self. No one and nothing can give that to you. In other words you realize that nothing and no one can really “help” you to find yourself or to answer the “who am I” question. Nothing and no one, period.
Painful, yes, but true.
We all come to this point sooner or later in life. The hardest part of the journey back to yourself is that as the outer world starts to collapse, the inner collapses as well. Or should I say they start to shake in the same time and evaporate simultaneously?
When this crash happens there will be a great pain felt deep inside and suffering will surface in all its possible forms. Whatever you believed in or thought you were is not there anymore. It has left your inner house forever and now you feel like your home is without a roof, a door and a window.
It feels like it has no walls anymore; you feel no more protected or at ease like you thought you once were.
Your comfort zone is not there anymore. Its boundaries have melted away. There’s no map and no roads; only crossroads ahead which make you tremble in fear as the darkness enters your inner home that has only pieces of ruins and nothing else.
This is perhaps the hardest and the most painful period or time of this journey toward knowing the true self—the one behind many layers that society and our wrong perceptions have created inside our heads.
One of the many lessons this journey has taught me so far, in a very clear way is this: you cannot find yourself in your mind (thoughts and feelings), ever.
Naturally another question can arise from here; Where to look to find myself? This is a question anyone needs to find on their own. I need to find it on my own, in my solitude and quiet time…while I breath and feel the breath as it comes and goes.
Does breathing need any mind or thought to follow its rhythm?
No. Then my journey of seeking need not be concentrated on my thoughts which hold the past and the future—both nonexistent in the present moment. We all go back and forth into the past or the future. And the result is, we always fail to find the truth of who we are.
So there must be another way to go and seek and trust that we will find.
I can’t tell you where this other road is found, as every one of us needs to find its own road/path. Or as I like to put it, we all need to find our own seas and ships to begin to float into the waters of life.
Who are you?
Dive into the oceans inside you to find your own ship with which to float in the journey of life.
I am diving into my own inner sea to find my own ship and direction in the midst of winds and storms.
Ilda Dashi is a seeker of truth in life. She has been accumulating things that she thought really matter in life, until she realised that nothing is of greater importance that finding her own self, and her own path; in other words her own soul. She is continuing to seek new ways of dealing with her own stuggles and understanding her own unique path and her own uniquesness which sometimes scares her. But she can’t follow any other path other than the path her soul is calling her to follow. She is a lover of nature and silence. She loves to be still and meditate, because in those moments she tastes glimpses of her own truth above the veil of dust filled with conditioning and ignorance from the past. She is a dreamer and she likes to reach the stars. You can follow her on Facebook, her blog and her YouTube channel.
Editor: Ty H Phillips