By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
I watched an interview of Shay Mitchell, a famous Canadian actress who is half Filipina. She was asked, “What were your struggles with your identity during your high school years?” She replied she wanted not to be different and so she dyed her hair blond, and wore colored contact lenses because she wanted to look like her Caucasian classmates at that time. In other words, she did not like the way she looked especially with her brown complexion. But now she is celebrating her exotic appearance that makes her uniquely pretty. She said she learned her lesson and that you should not try to be someone else you are not, but to instead celebrate your being you.
Many young people nowadays struggle with their identity too. My advice is: try to be yourself the soonest. The reasons are many. First, because pretending who you are not can be quite exhausting. I know of a young fellow who wanted to portray himself as a funny person in front of his classmates and hides his serious side because he feels like he would be more famous that way. He confided to me that when he comes home from school, he feels drained.
Second, because as Jim Carey the comedian-actor has said, you become invisible if your aim in life is mainly to be accepted. Meaning your true self will disappear if you focus on getting accepted by others. The paradox is when we try hard to appear original and unique, we end up losing our originality. However, if we just be ourselves our unique identity comes out.
It’s part of human nature to yearn to be accepted. In psychology it’s called the sense of belongingness. It’s the reason why some guys or gals join fraternities and sororities. They want a group that accepts them. But you don’t have to join a club or a fraternity to get accepted. The key to getting accepted by others is when we practice our values or virtues. How can anyone not get attracted to someone who is kind, caring, patient, helpful and charitable to others? As I’ve always said, virtues bring out the best in us, we become more human. And the opposite is also true, vices make us less human and actually more of an animal. When someone devours food as if there’s no more food tomorrow, doesn’t he or she behave like a pig? We give birth to our true identity by being good not by being bad. Just look at the saints, they all have different personalities. In contrast the tyrants and the oppressors of this world, who terrorize and kill people by the thousands if not millions, are very boring because they pretty much have the same character. It’s not hard to distinguish between Lenin and Hitler.
You are who you are as God wanted you to be. God is satisfied creating you and you should also be. God is the champion and expert in bringing out our individuality. God brings out our fullest identity if we obey Him and heed His calling or His plan for us in this life. God will renew us and introduce us to our real selves. “Behold I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)
As C.S. Lewis would say, God loves variety in His children that’s why He made us all unique and different. That’s also why He created many humans. Otherwise, he would only have created one person if He wanted only one kind of personality.
Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo is the chairman of the Electronics Engineering Department of Mary our Help Technical Institute in Minglanilla, Cebu. Aside from engineering subjects, he also teaches values and Christian Doctrine classes to students in tertiary level.