You’ve heard the common advice to “be yourself”. Everyone tells you to just do it, but it has little translation as to what it actually means. How can you be yourself if you don’t know who you even are?
One common metaphor that people use to describe this way to “be yourself” is to chisel away at your own slab of marble everyday until you’ve become the perfect version of who you are through some kind of means of self-transformation and liberation.
While many people will be able to achieve a sense of transformation where people will not be able to recognize them in the future, where they fall short is that of liberation.
Why? Because we are constrained to the norms and values of society. We’re constantly chiseling away at our own selves in the mirror that society would approve of. We hardly break free from this chain to create something new and beautiful.
We don’t embrace the chaos of our imperfections and flaws to use as a source of creativity and self-expression. We continue to fall to perfectionism through masking who we truly are.
The common way you’ll hear this metaphor used is compared to Michelangelo’s “David” where he famously said that his sculptures were already present within the stone and that his task was to simply remove the excess material to reveal them. That’s precisely the point. That through our act of creation is an act of liberation so long as we do not obsess over what is “normal”.
Nobody knows what normal is. Your parents do not know what normal is. Your teachers do not know what normal is. Even your doctors do not know what normal is. Even Plato in his “Allegory of the Cave” describes this knowing of what is “normal”. For a group of people who spent their entire lives chained up a cave watching shadows on the wall and believing them to be real is not normal. When one prisoner is freed and sees the world outside the cave for the first time, they are blinded by the light and eventually come to understand the true nature of reality.
Your life is a constant struggle to break free from your own constraints. To break yourself out of the stone of slab you’re in as you’re already there. That to break yourself free from one’s old self is the only necessary step to venturing into the unknown.