“In an age where there is much talk about “being yourself,”
I reserve to myself the right to forget about being myself,
since in any case there is very little chance of my being anybody else.”
~ Thomas Merton
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When I was studying cultural anthropology, I recall watching a video from a fantastic series called “Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World” – a television and video series that examined both tribal and modern societies in a profound and impactful way.
One of the topics they covered was suicide: something incredibly prevalent in ‘civilized’ and ‘developed’ societies. They took a close look at a tribal society where suicide had never been heard of – there was no word for it, there was not even a concept for it.
I remember they connected the tendency to focus on individuality as one of the possible root causes of the severe depression that can lead to suicide; including the accompanying competition, the comparison, the shame, and the guilt.
I found myself wondering why we focus so hard on this sense of individuality to give us value and meaning as people in our society, instead of literally just being – who you and what you are – and naturally going with what flows from within?
When you are free to just be who you are from your very inner core – free of inhibitions, free of expectations, free of comparing yourself to others – your true essence and the power of what you have to offer this world will finally be able to shine through without being blocked out by this shadow of ‘individual’ we force on ourselves.