As the last child it’s often impossible to escape the shadows cast by your siblings. Your name becomes obscure as many refer to you as XYZ’s little sister. The chances of people remembering your name are not very high, this is not necessarily because they don’t know it or forget it, rather they have fallen into the habit of seeing your elder ones before they see you, thus their names (your elder ones) come to mind first. I found the spoken and sometimes unspoken expectation to have me mirror the ideals, behaviours and traits of my siblings the most frustrating aspect of this shadowing effect.
I really wanted to escape the canopy effect my siblings had on my life and the opportunity to do so came in the form of university choices. I chose a school many miles from home and although my elder brother had attended the same school he had graduated long enough to dispel all shadowing effects on my life. Physically distancing myself from this phenomenon refereed to as shadowing, to a certain extent did me a world of good. It helped me find myself, to test the strength and bases of my belief, but it also highlighted how intrinsic the values and personality traits I had tried to escape were a part of me.
Perhaps one of the many lessons of growing older is the gradual realization that we are a large picture comprising of different puzzle pieces. Puzzle pieces shaped by our varied life experiences, human and cosmic encounters. The best part of the puzzle lies in the fact that different pieces can be moved around to fit the edges of our life or form the core of who we are. Secondly we can afford through due diligence to eliminate and replace certain pieces as we please, however unlike a cardboard puzzle there will always be an imprint of that piece in our memory.
Memory, emotions, the mind … I suppose that’s what makes us different from the people who have shaped our lives. This ideology is supported by Karl Rogers and Erickson’s ideologies on human growth and development. Yes we are a sum of everything that happens to and around us, this might be considered by some as our true self’s. However, perhaps our true self’s doesn’t stop at this level but goes further to how we interpret those events and what we do with that interpretation.
If the saying that “we have only 10 percent control over what happens to us and 90 percent control over how we react” is true, would it be safe to assume that people who live in self denial haven’t embraced their true selves? How about those who live life trying to anticipate the moves of others, basing every action or thought on the anticipated moves of another? Are they cautious, manipulative or untrue to self?
When we anticipate people’s moves and act accordingly aren’t we short changing ourselves from learning who they really are? More importantly aren’t we short changing ourselves, as only life experiences can truly expose the foundations our true ourselves. I am by no means advocating a careless lifestyle or a rude personality. I just find myself wondering if such a cautious life isn’t a limiting and unrealistic one. I question the validity and dependability of principles lived by being a bundle of reaction to for everyone around you.
Isn’t that what we become when everything we do is foreshadowed by our anticipated or pre- planned outcomes. We consistently respond not in the way we really want to but in the way that ensures we have absolute control of the 10 percent which really belongs to others. Sadly I think in doing that we give over control of the 90 percent without knowing. We hedge ourselves into a corner which never spreads out into a large square, rather like a column we wrap ourselves round in people’s reaction until we become invisible. Often times when that environment becomes stifling we burst open like a house hit by a tornado.
Don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to be everything to all men, as each man desires sometime different from everyone each time. I rather be something to some people and accept that I might never be anything to some others. Would it be better to die a bundle of reactions or a bundle of actions?