As you keep growing older every passing day have you ever taken the trouble to find out who you really are? Of course you know who you are by your name, where and when you were born and your parents’ ethnic background and probably your tribal history. But that is not all.
Knowing all of the above is good but not sufficient to know yourself. You really need to know a lot more than the above to know yourself well.
Whether you are 15 or 50 years, 18 or 80 and 19 or 90, you are growing older and need to know thyself.
There are few things that make you unique among all people, things that make you different from all others, things that make you stand out. It’s not about a bottle of Guinness stout.
May be you have a long nose or red eyes, may be you are tall or very, very short with a special liking for blonde women or those with big boobs with an intention to marry one at all costs.
May be you are a fat woman that enjoys being called Mama Thick and have a special liking for afternoon nap. Whilst all these contribute to making you special, a few other things also make you unique.
Your past record of events may be similar to but not exactly like anyone else’s. The grooves on your fingerprints could be similar to but not exactly like anyone else’s. There are a few more things that yours are quite distinct from the rest of people in the world.
In knowing yourself better you can look at yourself from three different perspectives to have a more recognizable view.
Your physical self is how your physical body looks, i.e. how your son will describe your appearance to his teacher in an essay class, like the long nose and the red eyes with probably a protruding stomach due to lack of exercise.
Sometimes by accident you may have a defect in some part of your body and it is simple for you to be described and recognized by that defect.
Do you know that there are billions of people worldwide but apart from identical twins no two people have the same facial look? Most are similar but not exactly the same.
A lot of women that stay behind my house like to change their physical appearance by changing their skin color the way a chameleon does.
I am familiar with one short lady. Sometimes she appears faded black, other times she appears fair and at other times somewhat between violet and a color I can’t easily identify. Sometimes the color of her face is different from the rest of her body.
At a particular time both her face and body appear brown and that is it. Describe her as the brown short lady with chameleon characteristics and everybody including herself, know who that is.
Your social self is how you interact with other people and how you relate to others in your family set up.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? You probably don’t know yourself or you are not sure which one describes your personality type.
As an introvert you may feel more comfortable doing things or solving problems on your own rather than doing it in the company of others. You don’t see anything good with joining groups or associations for business or for fun and think you’re better off and happier on your own. Your interaction with groupings like students or church congregation is brief and may not even like to take part in a group visit to the Victoria Falls.
Aerial view of the Victoria Falls
You think your good manners may be corrupted by being in the company of others and will advice your children not to make friends.
An introvert in a natural environment
Being on your own always feels natural for you. You are not concerned with what others do or say or what happens to them. You are self-centered. At my former school where boys will give a name to everything under the sun they may simply call you ‘’anti-so’’, that is the abridged form of anti-social.
By contrast are you concerned about others and mix freely with people?
Are you outgoing and have a little bit of humor under your armpit.
Do you enjoy working with others and like to show your brighter side in solving problems?
Are you energized by the presence of people and always like to be the centre of attraction or the cynosure of all eyes?
I once ushered a singer to the stage where he was going to perform. The audience had been waiting at the theatre for over one hour before we arrived. Immediately we arrived he began clapping his hands in a rhythmic way with most of the audience, some of whom were getting frustrated by his late arrival, joining the clapping of hands spontaneously.
Some ten years ago I was staying at an Accra suburb close to the new Kwame Nkrumah Interchange. There was one guy everybody around would come and listen to every Sunday morning in front of my house. The guy seemed to know everything in this world.
He would talk about the latest political events in the USA, the latest developments in European football; which country would win the next world cup and what political turmoil ran inside the FIFA, and which political party would win the next elections in Ghana.
He spoke with such authority such that we sometimes wondered how he got informed so vividly. When he spoke everybody would listen attentively to him.
That is the disposition of some extroverts. They can talk a lot, and lie at times.
A family set up
Knowing your social self includes knowing the variety of roles you play within your family set-up. In the family you are someone’s father or mother, another’s uncle or aunt, yet another’s brother or sister or grandfather or grandmother.
How effectively do you play the role of a father? Are you one who honors his responsibilities or forsakes them? Being a good father comes with responsibilities for feeding, training and educating your children.
How do treat your nephews and nieces? Do they call you a good uncle or they don’t even know you? Do you care for them or you are concerned about only your own children?
Can your brothers and sisters approach you with their problems or yours is a European style family where each one cares for himself? Of course it doesn’t mean caring on a day-to-day basis but offering a helping hand in time of need.
The final perspective from where you can know yourself well is your personal opinion about yourself.
People know you from the outside. Their opinion about you is how they see your behavior and rate you. On the other hand your personal opinion about your inner self could be a little bit different. You might not have had the chance to react to certain situations which are not to your liking in the presence of people who have already rated you. You could have reacted violently in a situation in which you remained calm or the other way round. It is your core-self which is that private part of yourself no one knows about except you.
It consists of your innermost thoughts and experiences that people do not know and you may or may not share with them.
You may have a low esteem of yourself either because you have met a life of many failures or have a low level of education that is not helping your progress in life. But understand that to have failure in one area doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in another area.
Sometimes what people say about you may have an impact on how you think about yourself. Positive praises livens your spirit up and give you encouragement whilst negative ones bug you down. It is natural to feel so but in all circumstances recognize that you should be happy, and celebrate any accomplishment if you have any, because you are the only person who can understand who you truly are.
Other people’s opinions about you could be right or wrong and does not matter much unless an opinion is purposely formed to tarnish your image.
An example of a wrong opinion is the following situation:
A young lady was asked by another lady who had arrived home from abroad to meet her at a place near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange at Accra to collect some items which had been sent through her. Whist waiting for the lady from abroad a neighbor passed by and saw the lady standing near a place prostitutes ply their trade and quickly formed an opinion that the lady was practicing prostitution.
In the above example if the neighbor expresses his opinion to others who know the lady they will know that he has a wrong opinion of her.
Aerial view of Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, Accra
YOUR REACTION TO SITUATIONS
How do you react to situations when they don’t favor you? There are several ways to react to a situation when it is not to your liking. You can either take an action to reverse or change the situation if possible or allow time to pass for the situation to change itself. It all depends upon circumstances of the particular situation.
If you are an impatient person you are easily irritated and always rush to do things. You have no time to entertain delays and wish things always go your way but will not always get it that way.
An impatient person
The patient person is always cool and can tolerate a lot of nonsense which the impatient person cannot tolerate. Both dispositions have their merits and demerits.
It is always imperative to understand that you should not do anything to inconvenience your neighbor. If you accidentally step on your neighbor’s foot, a little sorry you say will put matters to rest instead of asking him why he put his foot on the road.
The important thing is to always act with decorum in all circumstances to show your maturity as you grow older.