“However, the self, every instant it exists, is in the process of becoming, for the self does not actually exist; it is only that which it is to become.” Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death.
I may not be a depressed Danish philosopher, but I still appreciate the above quote whenever I try to examine my life. The problem, however, is that I have not actually examined my life for several months.
This past semester was one of the most challenging I’ve had. Apart from school, I applied to eight graduate programs, balanced a new job with my old one, and dove into numerous extracurricular activities. Every date on my calendar was a deadline, so I kept going and going, nonstop, without a moment’s rest. Now that I have a break between semesters, I can pause, breathe, and look at myself in the mirror.
But for the past several months, I have not had a single moment of introspection. I confined my thoughts to academia and packed all my energy into other projects, research assignments, and work. I spent so much time looking out that I’ve nearly lost my ability to look in. Now, I find it difficult and even painful to examine my own life, to place my actions under a microscope and investigate the mechanisms of my identity.
Introspection is at the heart of my ambitions, artistic, intellectual, spiritual, and social. I need to examine and reexamine how I treat others, criticize myself before criticizing others, and spend more time watching my self become what it is constantly becoming. I agree with Kierkegaard; I think our identities are always changing, like water traveling from the ocean to the clouds, from the clouds to the land, and from the land back to the oceans. I cannot resist that change, but maybe self-examination can let me influence the direction.