George, Probably Blogs

Who Are You?

Note: What you are about to read is a refined version of a talk I gave back in 2018. If you'd rather just watch the video, click here or see the embed at the bottom of this page.

What makes you who you are? Is it your actions? Those change day to day or even moment by moment. Your reaction to something may have been entirely different had it happened 10 minutes ago, when you had just woken up, or after a tough day at work.

Is it your memories? That must be terrifying for someone with dementia. And what about what you had for breakfast last week? If you can't remember it, does that mean someone else decided what to have? Does that mean someone else ate it?

Okay, so maybe it's the stuff that physically makes up your body? Well, it can't be that! Your body recycles every single cell after about a year. Sure, that excludes neurons and cardiomyocyte cells, but a large majority of you will be unrecognisable on a cellular level.

Ever since secondary school, I've suffered from imposter syndrome. If you don't know what that is, I have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, someone who secretly knows nothing and is simply deceiving all of those around me. I'm aware of why it happens: the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

It explains that after a certain point, the more you know, the less you think you know. It feels like you're being dragged under a rough tide where although you're learning as fast as you can, you know there is much more to learn than you had previously realised. You get swept away by the feeling that you'll never be able to learn all that there is to know.

A graph showing a depiction of the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Original graph from Wikimedia Commons, under a CC0 license.

However, like how knowing that you're colourblind doesn't magically allow you to see colour - knowing what causes your distress does not make that distress go away. My imposter syndrome affects me on a near-daily basis. I am terrible at completing projects because of the fear that people will see my work and think of it as inadequate. I am constantly scared that someone will look at me one day and realise that all of my success has been due to sheer luck. The words I say aren't masterfully crafted, just the ramblings of a madman.

My response to hearing someone say good things about my work isn't to be proud of what I've done; it's to be devastated because I feel like it's not worthy of the praise, and when the person notices that I'll feel all the worse knowing that they used to hold me in high regard.

My most viewed video on YouTube isn't popular because it's a fantastic piece of content. It's popular because the budget supermarket chain ALDI decided that, for some reason, it would be a good idea to sell gaming PCs, I picked one up to take apart and look inside, and it just so happened to go viral.

The reality is: that video is probably one of the worst videos on my channel. I filmed it after a long day at work, and I'm just rambling at the camera. It ultimately is a bit of a nothing-burger of a video, but it's the one that YouTube chose to push to nearly 180 thousand people.

I love recording technology, myself, and my interactions with the people around me. I can struggle to communicate confidently with those around me in person, but having the layer of separation makes talking easier, whether via a YouTube video or even a text message.

A camera is such a great communication tool and therapist because it never looks back at you judgingly. It always sees the situation exactly as it was and is never disappointed in your choices. People are unpredictable, there's no way of knowing how they will react to a particular piece of information, but a camera will always sit there and listen.

So maybe who you are isn't physical, and isn't what you are doing right now. Maybe who you are is the impact you leave behind, the people you influence and the friends you make. The time you messaged someone, and their heart skipped a beat. The time you were afraid of change and leant on those around you to tell you it would be okay. The time you told a horribly punny joke and everyone reluctantly laughed whilst rolling their eyes.

Who you are is how you behave without witness and without reward. Who you are is how you treat not only those closest to you, but also strangers, as they are just friends you haven't met yet. And when you do meet those people, the first thing they'll want to ask you is the question you should constantly ask yourself.

Who are you?

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