Voluntary confinement

Who is it that you truly are?

We are taught to want to become something. To achieve some thing that we can aspire to. A profession or level of accomplishment.

When we're young, the ambitions are still unlimited. We want to become astronauts, firefighters and actors. Or idolize the idea of becoming famous or rich.

As we mature, most form limiting beliefs that result in more approachable professional goals: perhaps now it's teacher, programmer or product manager.

This is how we're taught to think of ourselves. Of needing to set our direction in the world by classifying what we're going to become - and then spending much of our lives working towards achieving that.

The modern world requires us, or otherwise tricks us, into thinking we have to signal those things to the world. Your LinkedIn profile and social presence may help you land a job or find your peers.

The result is that we become experts at posturing. As we declare that we are this or that, entrepreneur, sales associate, painter, we feel like we need to act the part. We want to be consistent with what we've declared ourselves to the world to be.

We think "this is what a great painter is supposed to do, so let me do that". It's disingenuous - for anybody truly great approaches things in a unique way.

This is worsened when we get into beliefs: you may ascribe to vegetarianism or have leftist political views. If you've declared yourself publicly as such - and especially if you engage online as someone of that belief - you're constructing a fence preventing you from ever seeing a different point of view.

One's expected to have ambitions, goals and to look up to the greats in their fields for patterns to match. But this persistent striving, of wanting to become something other than who or what we already are, is exactly what stands in the way of our ability to understand and find ourselves.

It's hard to participate in today's society without describing yourself one way or the other... but every time I do, I just wonder if I'm picking a cage for myself.

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