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You tell me to be myself

You tell me to be myself. What do you mean, exactly? When-if ever-is self a constant solid pivot point, and whenever is it not a variable constantly changing, renewing, rediscovering itself, with change as certain as each passing second? If life is a constantly flowing river, then self in my eyes is less the rocks, less the banks, less the trees rooted to the sides, more the water itself, constantly in motion and never remaining still and certain at any given point. We change, grow, learn, adapt. We become new people as experiences mould us like a sculptor’s hands in soft clay. Sometimes we don’t, ourselves, change at all, but instead we discover ourselves, figure things out, reveal something that is a part of us that was there before but we didn’t see it and realize it until now. We re-express ourselves accordingly. We become comfortable in our shifting, shedding skin. We look back on our memories and see ourselves like some not-quite stranger we encountered before in our lives, introspective deja vu. We dress ourselves up, a chameleon to our surroundings, who we are when we need to be, bleach our masks and smooth the creases at the end of each day.
You tell me to be myself. Alright. Who do I be then, the child I was several years ago, running wild in the trees and playing tag on the fields with my friends? Who do I be then, the calm and composed and in control in front of old friends and former lovers? Who do I be then, the child of my parents, checking off expectations like items on a shopping list? Who do I be then, the me that lies still and silent at a sleepless 2 am in the dark, arms folded on steadily rising and falling stomach? Who do I be then, the person I see in the mirror, not able to quite reach their touch and gaze? Who do I be then, the self alone in the bedroom burning and rotting something fierce, fighting a silent fight underneath thinning skin? Who do I be- who I think I am, who I present myself as, who I really am, who am I not? Who?
I know, there is a self within all the change, all the shifting and moulding and moving. There is a self behind all the hiding and re-expressing and adapting. There is a myself, yourself, themself. I know that we are. I know that if you dilute the ever raging water, the silt and dust and dirt and foamy rapids, you will find something there that is core, untouched, pure and distilled, flowing clear and good for eternity, you face yourself with unhindered courage. I know, I know. It’s there. You’re there. I’m there. We are who we are, we are all our changes and all our movement and all our selves.
You tell me to be myself. Alright.
Tell me who, and tell me how.