who am I?

by Madeline Laughs
Henri Thoreau Memorial near his house in Walden

Image via Wikipedia

When I was around 15 years old I had numerous meltdowns over this three word question. Who am I? Wondering about what kind of difference I could make in the world and having no idea how to accomplish anything I thought of, I was endlessly frustrated.

I must have given myself a reprieve between the ages of 15 and 25 because I don’t recall ever breaking down over that question while I was in college. Perhaps if I had, I’d have pursued something besides a degree in art.

At 25, I started having those same thoughts again, but now they had taken on some partner questions. Who am I? What is my purpose? What am I doing with my life that makes a damn bit of sense? Around that time I was also reading Thoreau. 

“Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”

Every young adult must go through something of this nature. How else would we foster the politicians, the leaders, the innovators, the clergy. All of us must wonder what our purpose in this life could be.
I didn’t just pick one thing. I picked them all. I branched myself in so many different directions that some days are nothing but a blur to me. There were projects left unfinished as I moved to the next one in haste. I did a lot and still accomplished nothing. Or did I?

“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one… characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.”

According to Thoreau, I did not.

Remembering when I changed the way I asked myself that question is  not clear, but I did begin to see things in a new light. I discovered that my life was simply that, mine. This revelation changed everything for me. It changed my demeanor, the way I treated other people, the way I treated myself and I began to formulate guidelines within myself for what I would and would not stand for. I developed a code for my life.

Developing a life process and executing it are two different things. The path I needed to take in order to be the person I thought I should be was not an easy one.I had no idea how to get started and people that knew me well were resistant to watch me change.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

I won’t be going into much detail or giving specifics on my own life code because I think as individuals we must all find our own standards of living. We all have our own ideas of the message we want to project out into the world. Only you know what you feel in your heart and only you can live your life. How many burdens will you lift from yourself and how much more will you be able to give of yourself, once you start living for yourself?

That was a righteous discovery for me! I am responsible for living my life. Up to that momentous epiphany, I had lived my life for everyone else, by their rules and for their sakes. Living just for me…how simple is that?

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

Over the years I have shared my take on situations happening in the lives of people that I love. In every circumstance of life, there is a silver lining. Most people in the throes of disaster will never find that, but it is there. I tend to point in that direction as much as possible. I want to learn what I need to know from any episode, find the goodness and move past. I want for my friends and family, what I strive to give myself and that is peace in their minds and in their hearts. If I never do anything of monumental worth in this lifetime, at least I can share my comfort.

No, I am not a PollyAnna with a Goodship Lollypop song for everyone. And yes, occasionally I am as morose and neurotic as anyone else.

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”

I am not perfect. And I am perfectly fine with that.

I know myself a little better today than I did when I was 25. I like myself a little better too. But the biggest difference between then and now, is I like the people in my life more. I appreciate them. I am grateful for them. As my views evolved and my life subtlety changed, I didn’t expect to swell with so much love for the human race, but it happened.

Seeking out the good in everyone and in every situation shapes your whole inside. Look for that bright spot long enough, and you’ll find it. On those days when I can not find the bright spot, I have you to show me the way. That is simply good enough for everything in this lifetime.

“Be not simply good – be good for something.”

Who am I?

I am you.

~all quotes are Henry David Thoreau

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to who am I?

  1. Manoj says:

    “Who am I?”. This question not for me or not for you. This is a question for every body. Who know this answer by him-self he will be a great great person.


    • Yes Manoj…it is a hard question to answer. To define ourselves is to define the world, but we should all strive to reach that same happy point in life where who we are is defined by ourselves and not what other people think.

      I’ve been seeing you pop up a lot lately. It’s so good to see you here. 🙂


  2. Michi says:

    Wow. Wow. Some days I feel that I still have meltdowns when I ask myself – who am I? I like to say, “I am a good person. I have an open mind. I like to help. I am willing to learn.” But is that even enough?

    The following was very reflective for me, considering my last post was about how disappointing humanity can be….. “As my views evolved and my life subtlety changed, I didn’t expect to swell with so much love for the human race, but it happened…Seeking out the good in everyone and in every situation shapes your whole inside. Look for that bright spot long enough, and you’ll find it. On those days when I can not find the bright spot, I have you to show me the way. That is simply good enough for everything in this lifetime.”

    I hope that I am somehow making my way, however slowly, to more positive views about the human race.


    • It took me forever to get here. I know your journey will be a kinder one Michi. You already have the right frame of mind. I am not always so forgiving though. There are times when I truly want to throw my hands in the air and say Fuk it! That’s when I lean on my friends 🙂


  3. Regyna Longlank says:

    I guess I am pretty hard on myself. I do like myself but immediately want to qualify that with I am not always the person I would like to be. I can be petty and jealous and selfish and quite lame when I am tired, hungry, lost or lonely. But that is not who I am. I am more than the sum total of my parts, more than my choices and my history, more than I myself will ever know. How do I know this? Because I often write and say things I have no intention to express. I will go into a situation at a total loss as to how to approach it, what to do, what I even want as an outcome and still manage to say exactly what is in my heart. Somehow when you mix it all together it comes out as me, but I don’t really understand what that means. When you say that you are me it sure sounds right, it feels right. Your pain and sorrow and losses are also mine, your small victories and great achievements are also mine, your heart is my heart. How could it be otherwise?

    Lately when it seems like that is not true if I look a little deeper what I see is this person who seems like they are not me is someone I have not been present for, someone I hold at a distance and withhold affection from – the failing is mine. Where love is not flowing it fails to spring from me,. There is nothing wrong with anyone else. .If there is I am powerless to do anything about anyone but me, even if all I can do is remove myself from their presence. Most of my frustration and tendency to focus on the flaw rather than the positive aspects comes from failing to accept this one small thing or accepting it but being unable to act because of fear. Thank you for the shot of existential angst, it goes well with my outfit today.


    • I have read this comment over and over again. I love this so much more than the post itself. Words absolutely fail me as to how moved your words made me. Love you.


      • Regyna Longlank says:

        thank you honey. you know i hate it when you say that…your post is what birthed my comment. together we go…loving.


  4. Liz says:

    Great Article…I found I was the hardest on myself because I demanded perfection…while I gave a pass to others for being ….”human”. The time came to give myself a pass and celebrate that I, like everyone, have flaws that I will never correct and that, in truth, make me the unique person I am!! I celebrate that now!!


    • Our flaws do make us unique rather than flawed, this is very true. It warms my heart to see someone celebrating their life. Life is so precious and so brief. Everyday should be a celebration of that first deep breath in the mornings to the sigh of weary as we drift into sleep. Life is good.


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