Do You Know Who You Are?
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” Lewis Carroll’s Alice said
this as she contemplated just what had made that day so unlike any other. Indeed, who are
any of us? What does it mean to be an individual self? Are our paths predetermined, or do
we have free will? An individual’s self involves his or her physical, psychological, and
social features, as well as beliefs, attitudes, passions, values, and ideas. The concept of
the individual self has been explored thoroughly in literature, psychology and philosophy.
As an existentialist, Friedrich Nietzsche rejected the idea that life had an inherent
meaning, preferring instead to say that each individual assigns his or her own life value.
We have the ability to create our own worlds. Existentialism regards freedom, choice,
and decision as essential to human existence. As individuals have the freedom to chose,
they are then responsible for their choices. Additionally, the identity of an individual is
created by that individual, and that individual alone. Nietzsche fathered the concept of
“The Will to Power,” which then became a collection of his notes published after his
death. Here he explained that living things were driven by the will or desire for power,
strength, and growth. Creative expression is also recognized as a major point in the will
to power. This will is also stronger than the will to stay alive, as evidenced by martyrs
who amenably give up their lives for a cause if it will give them more power. In his “Will
to Power,” Nietzsche distinguishes between three different kinds of people; the oppressed
man, the stronger man, and the strongest and most independent man. They each express
their wills to power differently, as freedom, justice, and love respectively.
Carl Gustav Jung had other ideas about what it meant to be an individual. His idea
of individuation called for an individual to question those things s/he had been taught,
instead of living life as a lemming and accepting the thoughts of others as his/her own.
This period of self realization divides the life of an individual in half. The first half of the