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Who We Are- A Paradox

Updated on February 8, 2012

Who We Are

By Tony DeLorger © 2011

I am a slave to convention, a sponge soaked with the will of conditioning, the echoed words of my mother. I sit in a restaurant with people I barely know, exchanging conversation, enacting etiquette and the values of past cultural determinations. I know how to sit, to hold and use the implements of dining, to taste the wine, comment on current issues and graciously dance to the beat of acceptance and class. But who am I, that I dance this imaginary life? All this for what; to be accepted by people I don’t know, have nothing in common with beyond the precept of adherence to a code of etiquette?

Have you ever wondered what life would be like in complete honesty? Imagine a world without the divisions of class and cultural acceptance. How we form relationships is firstly based on being able to relate, having similar backgrounds, education and the conventions that have been passed down by firstly our parents and ultimately set by our perceived status in society. How we talk, act and relate places us in a system. This system then determines who we befriend, and eventually who we marry. We then propagate the system, the values and conventions.

This dance, this orchestrated behaviour is considered normal and in one perspective a sensible approach to getting on in the world and finding a comfortable place in which to live your life. In another perspective, it is a system that becomes all important and that can lose a person to the conventions that were initially designed for assimilation and success. Some people get so immersed in this system they lose all consciousness, and lose themselves to the rules of convention rather than enjoying life for whom they are.

The sad part of this realisation is that most of humanity is living in this way. I’m not for one moment suggesting that social conventions be dispensed with, but to be true to ourselves and realise our dreams, we must move beyond it.

The Ghandis’ and Nelson Mandelas’ of this world have done this, their truth far beyond the concepts of convention, class, colour or creed. These men have eclipsed what we understand as success by not being restricted by anything and following their beliefs. Conventions then seem rather unimportant and in a way demeaning.

Human beings have endless potential, and when there is no pretence, no striving to impress, manipulate or advantage, there can be true communication, from the heart of us. If we can go beyond these behavioural conditionings, we will find who we are, without veil and at the essence.

Honesty, no just with other people but with ourselves, is paramount. It is so easy to become lost in our conditioning, shrouding who we are and presenting a manufactured expectation of a person, for acceptance. I think it much better to be accepted for whom we are rather than for how we can act.

I am tired of all the games, the pretence of fitting in. I wish only to celebrate who I am and if that doesn’t fit into some preconception of acceptance, then I will surely become a hermit, sound in the knowledge that I am me, regardless.

The dance is what we know, what we’ve been taught. It is the part of us that is a lie, made from the will of others. We must, to find true happiness, move beyond it.


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    • Tony DeLorger profile image

      Tony DeLorger 6 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks for reading Diana.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 6 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      I agree we should never try to be anyone other than ourselves.

    • Tony DeLorger profile image

      Tony DeLorger 6 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks for your time and response flying_fish. Glad you enjoyed the piece.

    • flying_fish profile image

      flying_fish 6 years ago from GTA

      Pretense and conditioned values and everything never appealed to me - the difference between those who adhere to convention in their attitudes, opinions, behaviours, etc and those who adhere to their own pursuit of Truth is more a matter of responsibility than anything else: Adhering to social conventions amounts to handing over a person's fundamental responsibility for himself to society at large - leaving rejection of anything conventional as a reactionary (and equally personally-destructive) alternative. Renunciation of convention for convention's sake allows one to live freely, and the occasional coinciding with convention doesn't indicate the *following* of convention - easily leading to misunderstanding among others...

      I knew people who treated me as though I'd been born a few days before we met, because egoistic nonsense they were discovering in their lives had long ago been understood and devalued in my own - where they'd react to circumstances that threatened their "ego-ideals," (thoughtless reaction ever a hallmark of irresponsibility...) I'd simply smile, and remain unaffected, seeming to them quite naive for it!

      Staying true to oneself tends to create something of a gap between one and others who blindly follow the herd, a gap easily seen clearly by one and almost entirely misperceived by others. In many social environments, the kind of honesty you describe is a lonely pursuit, but one that we all must eventually come to, too often when continuous dissatisfaction leaves no other choice.

      An Awesome hub, sir!