Field Report #2
Who are you? It’s a simple three worded question and yet so many people really don’t know how to go about answering it. The question is almost too aggressive—or at least that is what I realized from the reactions I received from the three strangers I encountered; it forces the questionee’ to suddenly dive deep into their view of themselves and most of the time they haven’t fully understood that view. Imagine, if I were to ask you, “Who are you?” how would you answer me? Personally, I would be speechless, at first, for I really don’t know who I am-—and I’m sure the same goes for others. Yes, while we may have a good sense of our morals, what truly identifies us?
That is exactly how one person—a middle aged woman I’d ran into at the supermarket had answered me. She was fairly young and running after her hyperactive five year old son. When I asked her who she was, she shrugged, distraught and then sighed, “I really don’t know, honestly…” and then she paused, looking down at her son and smiled “A mother?” It was hard not to smile at her comment; she didn’t have a clue who she was—or, rather, didn’t even have herself figured out yet– but she had a strong feeling her identity lied within her son. So identity, when thinking about my encounter with this woman, had to have lied in someone’s role— or, in this case, who we live for.
The second person I encountered had a different idea; he immediately shot his view on himself because he was one hundred percent sure identity was assimilated to someone’s actions and decisions. It was almost as if he was trying to force his view of himself to himself. This man was also young— very young, almost in his yearly twenties; and you would think he would have a similar reaction to the woman I talked to above; however, this man seemed to know exactly who he was and why this was so. “A guy just shopping for food…..” he said at first. “So that’s how you would identify yourself as?”I asked to extract a somewhat similar reaction I received from the woman. He laughed and then immediately corrected his original statement and went about explaining that he was who he was in terms of his actions. He gave me the example of his choice of groceries in a funny manner. “Well I am I person who buys a lot of Triscuits and Pepsi, not the kind of of guy who buys a lot of, let’s say– alcohol at 5 in the afternoon” he laughed and I laughed along seeing the point of his little example. So to him, unlike the woman I’d encountered at the supermarket lies within a person’s decision—may it be a small or large decision.
So far I’d come to observe that identity came from who you live for and the decisions you make. However, the next four people I asked didn’t have a clue or just didn’t bother answering the question the correctly. I received shrugs and aggravated sighs because most of the these people didn’t wanted to think about themselves—maybe because they hadn’t figured themselves out or maybe they didn’t have the time to figure out their identities? While I was lucky enough to receive genuine answers from the first two people I interviewed I noticed that majority of the people just did not have a clue about who they are, but they really didn’t care either. So this got me thinking: why was it that they didn’t care?
Surely, before one can even venture out of their homes and face daily life, one must have a pretty good and strong sense of who they are, right? – Maybe not, I suppose people are too preoccupied with the tasks of daily life in order to truly discover their identity. While we may have a vague sense of who we are through our actions and the people we live for we really don’t have a full grasp on ourselves partly due to the demands of daily life. Maybe we are too preoccupied in order to understand ourselves?