Who are you?

Self-identity—and being loyal towards it—has been on my mind a lot lately. As I’ve hit a peaceful and happy point in life after years of tumult, I started to think about how I got here.

It was about the time I’d shared an incendiary video two-ish years ago—which triggered what is still the most hateful response I’ve ever received from another human being—that I realized, once and for all, that I (and what I believe about the world) was different.

Though it was just a rumbling, I can look to that moment as the fork where I accepted that what was in my head conflicting with the opinions of those around me was perfectly acceptable—social congruency be damned. I slowly internalized that descending the hill of social pressure and anxiety toward peace and self-acceptance is a terribly humbling (and at times, heartbreaking) experience.

I learned that sharing my true opinions in discussions where they didn’t agree with the consensus or overarching narrative was fine. I quickly realized that while potentially isolating, learning to speak your mind is incredibly empowering and acts to build an unshakable confidence that can intimidate others into listening; an ability not to be underestimated in an increasingly noisy world.

What was important in the development of this is understanding that other folks’ interpretation of my opinions and beliefs was not who I am. No one can tell you who you are except for yourself. Taking the appropriate time and measures to figure that out is one of the most liberating things—to date, at least—that someone can do.

Who you are is what you do regardless of who is watching. In a maxim: the people worth admiring in this world are busy living their values, not just hawking them on the social marketplace collecting points from weak-willed tagalongs.

It’s far from easy. I grinned and bore it through a very difficult time a few years back because I knew that compromising my beliefs and principles for social acceptance was tantamount to suicide.

The people who looked beyond my words to my true character are still friends. Those who failed to do so had their thread cut by my freshly sharpened axe.

I’ve chosen to write this now because it’s clear the world is changing, but it felt important to point out that change needn’t cause strife. I realized this during a conversation with some old friends a few weeks back where the phrase “we’ll be alright” kept cropping up in reference to the current Administration.

Harsh reality: who is in the White House should have very little bearing on your mental and emotional stability—that’s on you. Speaking especially to men, if that’s your breaking point: buddy, strap the fuck in.

The next few decades—politically and technologically—will challenge who we are as a civilization and if we’re to come out the other side in one piece, it’s worth getting to know our true selves and, equally important: learning to accept others and not default to binary divisiveness.

Love people and ultimately judge people for who they really are: what they do. Not for your passing interpretation of who you think they are based on their presumed affiliations. If you make this your default outlook, you will be absolutely blown away at how great the world and the people around you truly are (and can be).

Move towards love and acceptance; you won’t regret it.