Note to Self — Episode 10

Who the hell am I?

Aarish Shah

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I’ve always found it interesting how people choose to define themselves.

Nowadays, it’s often based on their job — I’m a banker, a doctor, a lawyer, I work in startups, I’m an engineer, I work in a care home, I deliver for Amazon, I’m an investor , I ‘m a cashier at McDonalds — the list is, of course, endless.

And if not by the job, then maybe it’s by where you’re from, I’m an East African Asian, I’m English (lot of that going on at the moment), I’m from China, I’m Texican, I’m Italian, I’m second generation Greek Australian — and here the premutations are growing as we see more cultures mixing and melding, more relationships blossoming.

Or maybe, it’s by sexual preference — I’m straight, I’m gay, I’m non binary, I’m trans, I’m still deciding…

Of course, right now, there are more and more defining themselves by their politics, left, right, centre and variations on those themes.

I’m struck by how language forces us into these mental modes. Because we decide to give a concept a name, we bind it, and by binding it we force ourselves into a narrow definition when we are by our very nature subtle and different in more ways than one can imagine.

I know many feel the need, or maybe the comfort to conform to a certain group (I didn’t even go down the religious track above) because it gives a sense of community maybe, a tribe that provides an individual with some purpose some norms, some way of identifying what is ‘other’.

But I just don’t get it.

I mean I have always hated being pigeon holed, I don’t define myself by what I do career wise, nor where I came from or which god I worship (if any), I don’t look at someone else and try to find out why we’re different, I’ve spent my whole life seeking connection, as individuals, as humans through language and shared experience.

Who I am is not what I do, I define myself not by my place in the world, but rather by the imprint I leave on it.

We are bigger than our individual selves, our aspirations can impact the many, not just the few. By defining ourselves only in terms of our narrow experience all we can hope to do is line ourselves up against every other silhouette that casts the same shade and hope that we somehow stand out.

But if you give yourself over to more than just yourself, open yourself up to being about more than just yourself, then you transcend definition and become something more enduring.

So who the hell am I?

I am all of us, none of us and everything in between.

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Aarish Shah

Generalist | Thinker | Life Long Learner | Writer | Photographer