Know thyself (or don’t)

Once upon a time, I listened to a podcast and decided that Personality is all made up because humans are too dynamic to consistently Have A Personality. This made sense to me. Our context rarely changes– we stay in jobs, relationships and routines that are often static– so our Personalities are actually just Expected Actions Happening In a Predictable Setting. Right? Like of course. I’m not really calm, kind, or patient. I simply exist in places where these attributes are a) expected and/or b) reinforced. I’m a product of where I am and who I am with.

But then I moved to Thailand and my conceptualization of What a Personality Is was once again reshaped. I expected that the drastic move to Thailand would illustrate the above hypothesis beautifully. Surely I will be worlds different in a wildly different country/home/lifestyle. I moved from a semi arid desert where all of my family and friends live (not to mention my serious partner) to a tropical kingdom where I know nobody. I have to squat to go to the bathroom. My shower is a bucket of water with bugs in it. I can’t find the ingredients to any of my favorite foods. My bed is a wooden plank. The list is endless.

Things are so different from my previous life— I was convinced that I would be a totally new person here.

But the craziest shit is that I feel the exact same. Yes, life in Thailand has transformed me in ways I can’t explain. But I also can’t explain just how much I feel the same. I’m still deeply passionate about community, education, and learning new things. I don’t like showers. I take my time. I smile a lot. I am so stubborn it’s a problem. I have the same dorky sense of humor. I prefer reading over most other things. Despite the heat and humidity and language barriers and confusion and lack of control in my current life, I feel unremarkably the same as I did three months ago.

I wonder then if what I think of as Personality is more static than I’d previously thought— that there ARE character traits that make me undeniably unique. Things I cannot change about myself, no matter the circumstance. Things none of us can change.

I will never know anything for certain but I do believe that my journey in Thailand is making me examine What I Am Made Of. It is making me take pause and reflect on how I choose to show up every day in this new life. It is making me question what kind of person takes on this kind of rare adventure— the beauty, the solitude, the transformation, everything felt all at once.

I’m just really not sure what the answer is yet.

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