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The Self and the Other
It is very important to know who we really are. For knowing the self is what would guide us in this life.
If you feel like giving up, remember why you started. If you feel like going down, remember how you fought. If you feel like losing and stumbling, remember why you stood. And whenever you feel like you are nothing, remember who you are, because you are something in this world. For the recognition of the self is an important clue for a man who is in quest of meaning.
Who am I?
Philosophically, this question is the first question that man should ask himself. It is a question that could lead him or guide him in understanding his very being and to understand the meaning of living. For some this question of humanity might sound non-sense or absurd. Some might even say it’s a waste of time answering such question. But for me, it is not. It is rather recognizing the self as something in the world rather than nothing.
The “I” would always presuppose on something that would describe the human being. The sentence “I am good” for example. The word “good” is describing the “I” - which is the self - and not any other entity. That is how I philosophically understand the “I” – it is something subjective and the human person will always be its subject. When we speak of the “I”, one cannot deny existence, that would presume an adjective to describe it. But this does not only remind us of our existence, it also reminds us of our way of living.
Philosophical thought aside, the question above could also be a personal question. I remember one of the persons who gave a recollection when I was still a college seminarian. He said to us, “Everyday when you wake up, ask yourselves: 'Who am I?' And you will be guided throughout the day.” Because reminding yourself of who you are will help you become the "better you" and with that you'll be guided in your decision. As the old Latin adage says: "Agere Sequitur Esse" (Action follows being).
Life gives you many choices. You only have to choose one. So decide wisely. And be true to your choice. Many people are forced to make a choice which is not their own. They are the victims of circumstances, the results of pressure, and the confused ones. But one thing that I realized, this is my life, my choices are my own. At the end of the day, people around me will not care about me and what I have chosen to become. It is not the other who will hold my destiny, it is not them but me who will make happiness be authentic in my heart. The actualization of the "self" can never be determined by the "not-self" which is the other.
On the contrary, we are social beings. "No man is an island" as they always say. We are part of a greater picture - of a community. We are made to relate with others. So the question now is, how is self-actualization? Well, the "other" could help the "Self" to actualize its being. Realizing that we are part of a greater whole should empower us more to make our own destiny. While they don't own your decisions, and they do not determine whatever you wanted to be, the other will help you authenticate who you are. For this "other" will help you realize that you are living, and not merely existing!
In life, we make choices. And those choices/decisions are our own. No one has the right to choose for you; no one has the power to determine what path you should choose. Know who you are, and know what you want to become. But you are not alone, in short, you have to relate with others. As you dream, as you trudge, and as you aim for actualizing possibilities for yourself, remember that you also have to build relationships with the other. Knowing the "self" is as well knowing the "other".
Lastly, the path is arduous. Life is never easy anyway. So if you stumbled, remember that you are somebody in this world. Stand up and chase your dreams. As I said, recognizing the "I" means the recognition of the self as "somebody" who exists and lives.