The Filament Blog

Open To a Second Take?

Jun 14, 2023

If you had gone to high school with me (and some of you reading this did - Go Knights!) you would have known a rather femme, highly social, flute playing, swimming, seminary-enthusiastic young man.


As a young person, my interests solely lied in the arts, writing and  social sciences. I got good grades, but I intentionally chose very easy classes and didn’t take any AP courses except music theory. I didn’t take a single STEM course beyond the graduation requirement. Many of my close friends were the kids in honors and college math courses, and scoring in the 30’s on the ACT, so I never considered myself particularly smart or intellectual. My strengths were in the emotional and social realm, not in reason and rationale.


It was only this week that I looked at my podcast, Audible and actual book library to see almost only nonfiction, research, and academic philosophy. My YouTube searches mostly consist of topics about political philosophy, history, and arguments about a post-capitalist economy. My interests have greatly changed in the last ten years, and what I have realized is that my view of myself has changed along with it. I love the sciences. I find philosophy arousing, and my reasoning and logical prowess has increased as a result of my studies.


We choose who we are during adolescence. Chances are you can describe to me the kind of person you were through your developmental years. You were the funny one, the good kid or the bad kid, the smart one or the talkative one, etc., and chances are good that you still identify with the qualities you decided were true about you then.


But what if that’s just a big old story? What if we just made some decisions about ourselves based on very limited circumstances and data? I actually think that is quite likely. I know that is the case with myself. I wasn’t exposed to much STEM at all. My father has education as a social scientist, my mother a teacher with an emphasis in music education, and both were first and foremost collegiate athletes. I followed suit in all the same ways, becoming an athlete, musician, and pre-med student. Conversely, my peers who had engineers for parents were the ones in calculus in the third grade.


My point is this:


We change and discover who we are throughout our entire lives. I like to ask, “What if I’m wrong about myself? What if I actually don’t know what I am really good at, bad at, or interested in?” That “I don’t know” space leaves our hearts open to discovering new things about ourselves and will surprise and delight us.


This can be a scary process because having a fixed identity gives us security and predictability. It can be a helpful framework to make decision-making easier. But if we aren’t careful, it’s possible that we miss important cues about who we want to become and what we really want to create for our lives.


Discovering who I am in my 30’s has been an absolute delight. For example, I recently discovered that I am obsessed with ABBA. I have also discovered that I am a more rational and intellectual person than I ever thought I could be. So, what stories do you have about yourself that you developed at a very young age? And what if these ideas are outdated? What if you are wrong about yourself? And I mean that in the best, most exciting way. What interests you now? Who do you want to be? Take a look around - you might be surprised by what you find.