Why You Never Want to Know Exactly Who You Are (aka Un-Know Your Self)

Lest this be our first meeting, let me bring you up to speed: I spend hours thinking about my self. I mean, I spend hours thinking about others as well, but overall I am pretty self-ish (and proud of it, too - it took me a long time to get this way). Socrates “Know thyself.” is my second favorite quote and mantra to live by (right after Schopenhauer’s “Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants”).

Because of my obsession with self-awareness, I am also familiar with its downsides: increased intrapersonal conflict (aka a louder inner critic), disproportionately higher standards, and an over-open-mindedness to other people’s thoughts and ideas (resulting in confusion about my own).

Lately, I have noticed another one - knowing myself so well that I am surprised by who I have become. As if who I am is so fixed and constant that there is nothing more to know. Or that since I have known me for so long, there is nothing left to uncover. I assume I do this with my husband, too. Knowing him so well that I forget to be curious about who he is in this moment.

Which is precisely why you never want to know exactly who you are. Because you may miss out on who you are today. You may miss out on the new adventures you can have in the ever-changing you - your new body, new yearnings, new abilities, new tastes, new boundaries, new beliefs. You may miss out on hanging out with someone whose fresh take on life might surprise you, excite you, delight you. You may miss out on the part of you you haven’t even met yet.

What better reason to un-know yourself - than for the pleasure of getting to know yourself all over again?