Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.’
- Dan Gilbert
Our sense of identity is shaped by many different factors such as our family, our peers, our education, our society and out genetics. The way that we view our selves can have a profound impact on how we live our lives. Feeling confident in who you are as a person is absolutely fantastic! However, feeling that you don’t have the freedom to change and grow can be problematic for your wellbeing.
How many of us have, at some point in our lives, thought ‘If I can just buy this…’, ‘If I can just change that…’, ‘If I can just look like them…’ everything will be fine. I’ll be perfect. I’ll be finished. I know I have. The point isn’t to try to ‘finish’ yourself so you can be some abstract idea of what you’re ‘meant’ to be. The point is to embrace who you are in this moment. At any given moment you are exactly who you are meant to be. You are different than you were yesterday and you will be different again tomorrow. Because you are a constant work in progress and every experience in life is like another stroke of the painter’s brush on the canvas that is you.
Being open to change is half the battle of making any kind of change. Feeling like you’re ‘finished’ can be a roadblock to growth. Being open to behaving, looking, thinking, or being any other way can be incredibly freeing. Change is inevitable because life is inevitable and life is fluid. Life is everchanging. Being open to change doesn’t mean that you’re any less you.
Have you ever seen one of those time-lapse videos of a natural landscape that shows how nature changes through the seasons? The trees change and adapt to external factors (the seasons) and internal factors (growth) but they remain trees. We, as people, do the same. We change and adapt to our environments and we grow from the inside. This doesn’t make us any less individual. You’re a constant work in progress but you’re never not you. Embracing the fluidity of life does not threaten in any way an individual’s sense of self. It enhances it and makes it richer, making life a little bit easier to navigate.
I’ll leave you with one last note on the perfection of being ‘unfinished’. The Mona Lisa is considered by many to be one of the most perfect pieces of art in existence. You could argue that The Mona Lisa is the most beautiful woman in the world, and yet, many art historians believe that Leonardo da Vinci never actually finished the painting. So there you have it – even the most beautiful work of art in the world is a work in progress and always will be.
What are your experiences with change and fluidity?
by Katarina Smythe