When The Smoke Clears

Life calls for us to wear many different faces. We don the appearance of friends, parents, students, employees, etc. At any given point, on any given day, we have to play a role according to the particular situation we find ourselves in. While playing these roles can increase the skill of adaption, it can also decrease a sense of self and knowledge of the inner being.

When I was in middle school, I was picked on for being the teacher’s pet, a mama’s boy, the nerd, among other things. Though I was raised in a very loving household, with two encouraging parents who often reminded me of my self worth, it was hard to keep “me” in mind with all the expectations of who I was floating around. I had to be the smart student for my parents, but being smart was not cool to my friends, and I felt a strong desire to fit in with them. I had to be the well behaved student for my teachers, which was hard because I loved to talk and was an extremely inquisitive kid. As a result I grew up with few friends and a stunted sense of my identity because I couldn’t figure out who I needed to be.

As I grew older it became increasingly imperative for me to understand who I was without the influence of outside voices. It’s important for all of us to do that. If you take away the job, the friends, the material possessions, what’s left? Who are you really? What do you value? What are you passionate about? When you don’t know these things, a void begins to grow. People will often try to fill that void externally by purchasing items they don’t need, or looking for Facebook and Instagram likes to validate their inner self.

Getting a solid sense of self is hard, mostly because it takes time. We fill our calendars and iPhones with appointments, reminders, Facebook updates, but where is the scheduling for self examination and self appreciation? Where is the time to sit in silence and decide what we really want out of life? The roles we play in life are absolutely important, and can build strength and character. However, if you don’t know who you are, you’ll eventually fall under the pressure of trying to be everything for everyone, and not being there for yourself.

It wasn’t until my last few years in high school that I realized who I was, and what I was put here for. Coming to this conclusion took effort, and took time connecting to myself. Fortunately I was able to do it at a young age, and it has help me remain centered.

If you will not define “you”, then others will tell you who are, basing their opinions of “who you are”on their life’s perspective.

Whatever it is that centers you and helps you keep your sense of self, be it prayer, quiet time, meditation, music, what ever it is, do that, and do it as often as you can. This way, when the smoke of life clears, you’ll be able to see yourself.


Alfred “Nfrared” Vines