I recently saw Rocketman. The film wasn’t good, but it had a quote that I’ve been reflecting on. “You got to kill the person you were born to be in order to become the person you want to be.” I don’t think that is true. I’m happy with the person I am, but I’ve tweaked my idea of who that is for basically my entire life. It hasn’t always been gradual, but to say that I ‘killed’ my old self wouldn’t be true.
I understand that identity is a hot topic nowadays. I’ve written about it in passing, but for more fully formed thoughts Reggie and Michael are good sources. My background is a bit different, but I wouldn’t have that much different to say. Instead, I’d like to focus on growth. Not the identity itself, but how one transitions from one place to another.
Transitions are change. They are hard at first because you have become adjusted to one way of things. I was too young to remember my first move, but when I moved into my current apartment, I had to adjust. The apartment had follow-on effects for my commute, quality of life, and responsibilities. When I went from being single to getting married, I became responsible for an entirely new person. Working at a new company definitely brings new responsibilities.
When we change responsibilities, what we are really changing is our physical and chemical environments. Physically you are literally in a new place, or stretching the identity of what ‘physical well-being’ means to you. I have always wanted my family to be healthy. Now that I include my wife in my family, it is important she is healthy.
Chemically you are changing your needs as well. My idea of home has changed. If I returned to my old house, I would not consider it my home anymore. I wouldn’t recognize the people that live there. It is also possible they have changed the physical space. I don’t know!
Anyway, back to the premise. I don’t think I’ve significantly killed the physical or chemical person I am. I’ve gotten taller and am more compassionate now that I have experienced more in my life. I am still growing chemically, but probably not physically. I wanted to be a garbage man when I was young. It was cool watching them ride along on the back of a truck. I no longer want to be a garbage man, but I would still probably enjoy riding along on the back of a truck.
I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people have significantly changed since they were young. Restrictive parents or environment may prevent some people from being who they wanted to be. Talking with friends like these, they’ve said they always felt a little off. I think that understanding is always inside of you. They haven’t ‘killed’ themselves either, they moved into a physical or chemical place where they could be more themselves.
Change is the only thing that won’t change. Our bodies needs change to survive. We change air into energy, food into nutrients, and senses into information. When we are told things like we have to kill the person we are to be the person we want to be, that is a huge discredit to who we are. We are already great. We exist in the person that we will be. It isn’t about killing ourselves at all, but rather learning how to live.