Creating Yourself Through Intimidation

Forget finding yourself.

It’s all about creating yourself now.

I feel like everyone is obsessed with this idea of finding ourselves, especially in university. However, I think the real journey involves creating ourselves. We create everyday. We create experiences. We create memories. We create attitudes. We create conversations. Everything we do can be titled as a creation.

Furthermore, it’s not like we were born with a predisposed identity that is somewhere lost in an abyss waiting to be found the moment we step into the world of adulthood. Ironically, it seems as if we are consumed by this idea to discover who we are and establish a sense of identity.

Why does this even matter though?

I cannot generalize the answer to such a question because it is rather subjective, but knowing who I am as a person is essential to me because it guides how I think and act in varying situations. I too used to be influenced by the idea of finding myself, using it as a motive to engage in as many experiences or talking to as many people as possible.

Then, I realized, why would I go to a free Zumba class or introduce myself to a new girl in MIT 1025 with the selfish intention of trying to figure out who I am?

Instead, I began to shift my mindset towards interest. I acknowledged the fact that I am doing all of these activities and meeting new people because I want to. I want to learn about the world, and I want to listen to opinions I have never heard before.

Primarily, these reasons all share the common characteristic of creation. When I go meet someone new, I am creating a connection. I am also creating courage within myself. When I force myself to trek all the way to NCB instead of opting for the bus, I am creating dedication within myself. Finally, when I actually decided to drink for the first time since getting to Western and hopped a fence, I created spontaneity.

Next, what do these creations have in common? The concept of the unknown. The feeling of uncertainty.

A word that could be described as intimidation.

Though I feel like intimidation has a negative connotation, it really is about being comfortable with being uncomfortable. This leads to self growth, self discovery, and anything involving the self, eventually all establishing a sense of identity.

Upon this discovery, I went to a Hip Hop Western expo for the first time recently. At first, I felt confident because I have a solid background in dance with experience in Bollywood fusion and Indian Classical.

Fortunately, I was extremely disappointed, embarrassed, and insecure at the end of the expo.

I say “fortunately” because this experience has taught me a lot about myself and has created an epiphany within me about the concept of intimidation.

All of my life, I have enjoyed being the center of attention. I don’t know if this is a younger sibling trait, but I just know that I have been used to it. I grew up in a place where many kids didn’t pursue the arts, so when I performed piano, dance, art, whatever it was that I love, I would get immediate praise for it. Moreover, I seemed to always be naturally talented at non-academics, so when others got better than me or I was stagnating, I would just quit the activity and move on to whatever other natural talent I had not utilized yet.

Upon this current reflection, I realize that I have run away from these unfamiliar and dissonant situations for the majority of my life. Although I partook in many activities while growing up, I never entirely reached my potential because I felt fearful that I was not the best at that certain time. In competitive swimming, I felt daunted by the chance that I would come in last place. As a so called solution, I would skimp out on practices, so that I wouldn’t have to feel like I was the slowest one there. Instead of using that feeling of intimidation, I let it transform into a fear of failure. Furthermore, I would participate in piano performance competitions, and knowing that my rhythm was off or I needed to count with a metronome, I would just simply give up. After practicing a few times, I would affirm the fact that there was no need to practice so much because other people would always be better than me anyway. In other words, I believed there was no point if I wasn’t already skilled or if I couldn’t catch on right away.

In connection to the expo, I had fun, yet felt so self-conscious. I had no idea what I was doing. I messed up a lot. I got annoyed that there were so many talented people around me, and I really just wanted to get my $15 club fee back.

I felt, and still do feel, intimidated by learning something completely new with people that are much more skilled than me.

Therefore, I realize that my past has consisted of running away from a situation in which I feel humiliated because I have learned that I like to avoid confrontation and conflict. Now, I still could quit if I wanted to by justifying the fact that I simply don’t have time for it. It’s not about that, though. It is about the fact that I am no longer correlating intimidation with the feeling of fear, but with the feeling of faith instead. It is about the fact that this is uncomfortable for me, and it is a perfect opportunity to create. A chance to build.

Yes, I feel intimidated. Yes, I feel fearful. But it is about overcoming such feelings because that will feel much more rewarding than just staying skilled at a talent I have already worked on for a while. Most importantly, I will be surrounding myself with people who are better than me, pushing me to want to actually be better for myself, creating confidence, empathy, and patience within me.

These unknown situations scare me, and I am still extremely scared of being embarrassed again, but I know that these are the true times of creation. These are the moments where I will be able to create myself as an individual, instead of going on some getaway trying to find Roveena when I haven’t even fully created her yet.

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