Of recent, I have been somewhat hyperfocused on how people understand their own identity, and our individual sense of Self. I have discussed in my book The New Normal how the Self is socially constructed from our interactions with others and our wider environment. I think, however, it’s time to really zoom in (or perhaps, out?) on what the Self really is to me.
If being multiply neurodivergent has taught me anything, it’s that the variation of the human mind that exist are as numerous as the people on earth, but what of the Self? How many variations of me are possible?
First it is necessary to consider how my Self came into existence. It was constructed and scaffolded, not just by the people in my immediate environment, but by the conditioning that I have been exposed to in wider society. Society has given me structures based on false binaries, which I have had to deconstruct.
What has become clear to me is that I can become whoever I want to be. The Self is not a fixed point, it is a fluid and moving substance, more akin to a liquid than a solid. The Self that I am now, is not who I was 10 years ago, and is not who I will be 10 years from now. All things change, including me.
In that sense, each human life represents infinite possibility. Each person that exists has unlimited potential. By inflicting normative violence and attempting to mould another to who we believe they should be is to perpetuate trauma. We have to recognise that each time we hold something to be “normal”, we are likely projecting a piece of our own trauma onto another.
Conformity and assimilation has been weilded under names such as “unity” by those in power; but the true unity is in the radical queerness of subverting the social construction of reality. All things in human knowledge are socially constructed to some degree, we have a responsibility to constantly question what we hold to be true. There are infinite variations on the truth because the normative version of truth is in fact a mistruth.
We have been told that who we are, how we think, and how we express ourselves, needs to be in line with a collective truth. This is untrue, we are physical manifestations of infinite possibility. The oppressive structures of colonialism and normative culture rely on us forgetting that. Of course, because how do you control a population that knows it’s own endless possibility?
So, how do I understand my Self?
I am whatever I want to be, I am an ever changing and flowing river of possibility. Like any flowing substance, I calve a path through the landscape. That is why I have to be responsible with the course I take through life. It is not my right to cut through others and their landscape. I must calve through the oppressive structures of my own landscape, while elevating the voices of those for whom the landscape and structures are different.
We are multitude of drops forming an ocean, and we owe it to each other to create the tidal wave that washes the old world away.