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Rule #48. There is no “new you.”
Every year, on January 1st, hundreds of thousands of people decide that they’re going to change. No longer will they be the same person they’ve always been. Oh no, not this year! This year (whatever year it may be) everything changes. We’ve even got a nice turn of phrase for it, “New year, new you.” The problem with this attitude lies in the fact that there is no “new you.”
It’s true. There is no “new you.” There is only you. Of course, there is the you that you are today, the you of five years ago, as well as future you. Understand, however, that those distinctions are imaginary, useful only for contextual and illustrative purposes, and are largely arbitrary. Our personalities, the foundation of our identities, develop long before adulthood; some research indicates that our core personality traits are established as early as age six or seven.
I’m not suggesting that we’re incapable of change, simply that we are who we are. We absolutely can improve (or worsen, should we prefer). We’re always in the process of evolving. Every new experience, every conversation, and every lesson learned, helps us in the process of becoming the version of ourselves that we will ultimately be. But that’s a matter of skills, knowledge, wisdom; you already have that ultimate version of yourself deep inside, you simply have unlock them.
We’re all a lot like trees. If you’re an oak, you might be destined to grow until you tower over everything. Or perhaps you’ll be a sturdy table, or a fine floor. Maybe you’ll provide shade for a couple on a romantic picnic, or maybe you’ll provide desperately needed warmth as fuel for a winter fire. The oak tree can change, but regardless of whether you make a chair, a table, or a fire, the oak remains oak.
The same is true of people. I can change in a lot of ways (I’ve done that a lot over the years). I can learn new things, attain new skills. I can become useful in ways I never imagined. I can do any number of jobs, adopt better behaviors and habits. With all these changes, however, I’m still going to be Wade.
Don’t let this rule be a negative realization. It’s a wonderful thing knowing that you can be the best version of yourself, because you already have that person inside of you. We’re always in the process of becoming. Changing. Evolving. I don’t ever want to stop learning or improving, and I hope you don’t either. But you don’t have to become a different person. You can’t become a different person. Just become the best you that you can be. You may not know it, you may not feel it, but trust me; the world needs you.
Not some imaginary other “new you.” You.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is a weekly post giving guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an adventurous life.