Sunday, June 3, 2012

nosce te ipsum

I was pondering the idea of knowing yourself; knowing who you are regardless of circumstance or company. I didn't realize how important this was until I was working as a military engineer. It was in those two years that I recognized that I changed a lot of who I was to make things work for the moment and to fit it with my surroundings. Much of me got lost and the biggest decision of my entire life was to quit that job. I did learn, however, that forcing yourself to do things beyond your comfort zone is where you will grow the most. I can't describe how I scared I was the night before I was going to the Letterkenny Army Depot for the first time. I didn't know what to expect and was afraid I'd be eaten alive. The thing I learned is that when you're in an unfamiliar environment you will always have a choice: either rise to the occasion and embrace the challenge or flee. Even though I knew it wasn't me, I always made an effort to assimilate. I knew I was friendly so I made the choice to befriend everyone at the base that worked on the line and listened to their stories (professional and personal.) Ultimately, though, my decision to return to academia was more of a homecoming than anything else. I just had to wake up one day and do it. Here in Boston I am tested everyday to stick to who I am. In some ways the challenge here is even harder because it rises in unexpected circumstances where I believe I belong or am in control. It forces me to keep my feet on the ground and think "is this really me?" or "is this who I really want to be?" It's hard when you're on your own as I am with no one out there to really guide you or help you or keep you in check. How many of us can sleep soundly at night knowing that we have stayed true to ourselves? It's the idea that when everyone around you is experiencing something and you are choosing to deviate from that path based on your own values, experiences, or circumstance. Nosce te ipsum is Latin for "know thyself."

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