“They’ve become the things that define me,
How I look and the things to buy me.”
I’ll never forget the first day of my foundation yoga course. This was the first time I did anything to do with yoga that wasn’t just physical movement. My yoga teacher Debbie (she is still my yoga teacher!) paired us up and one person would choose to ask a question, while the other would give the answer. There was just one question:
Who Are You?
And every time you answered the question, the questioner would repeat the question:
But Who Are You?
And this would be repeated 5-6 times. Every answer just returned the same response:
But Who Are YOU?
You can try this yourself. Ask yourself the same question and see what answers you come up with. I found the more I tried to answer this, the more inadequate my answers became.
Am I a sister, a daughter, a friend? Or are these just how I am to other people? Am I my job? Am I the food I eat, the hobbies I enjoy, the people I fall in love with? Am I the country – or even the body – I inhabit? Or are these social constructs? Are they just masks we wear? Can any of these things genuinely describe who you really are, deep down? Is your identity really just a box ticking exercise?
It’s fascinating to look at the identity politics of 2022 through this lens. I’m intrigued by people’s defence of the labels they, and society, have applied to themselves. And the extended meaning we have applied to those labels. I identify as a woman if I must – I tick the box on a form – but that doesn’t really MEAN anything to me. I like to think of myself as far more than the narrow parameters of what society has deemed being “a woman” means.
There are no solid and definite answers. Certainly not ones we can put into words. And this is why Find Your Self – the fourth element of satisfaction – is represented by air. The self is kinda ethereal. It’s up in the air and yet deep, deep within us. It’s what makes us individual, yet it’s what connects us to everything else in the cosmos. It cannot be changed and yet it is never stable.
The self is a contradiction. A beautiful, irrepressible, shimmering contradiction. It cannot be pinned down but it’s vital we stay in touch with it. Why would you want it any other way?