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It's difficult to understate the affect that other people's perceptions have on the kind of person you end up being. Of course, we also have tendencies and traits that are built into us, but mostly I think our selves are constructed out of what we need to become and what we are asked to become.

And, in the best cases, our selves are constructed by what we want to become....built with thoughtfulness and care.

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Good morning, John!

Who the heck are you? Who the heck am I? How the heck do I know who I am? Do other people know who I am?? Do other people have different ideas of who I am?? Are those ideas close together or far apart? And what is more me, the me in their heads or the me in mine?? And when I go to sleep at night and lose consciousness for eight hours and wake up am I still the same me that I was when I went to bed??? WHO AM I????

Hi! My name is Hank Green, I'm a heterosexual, white, cis, male, I'm a Taurus and an ENFP. I'm a Montanan, an American, a book lover, I don't have any tattoos and I think that climate change is the greatest challenge that humanity has ever faced. I'm an entrepreneur, a YouTuber, a Slitherclaw, and I am Divergent. I once took a BuzzFeed quiz to tell me what YouTuber I was in which I was one of the options and I came up, you guessed it...

Miranda Sings! Thanks for the identity crisis, BuzzFeed!

I am now 35, and based on what I thought about 35-year-olds when I was 25 and when I was 15, I should know who the frick I am. Nevertheless, I don't.

I can describe myself all day long. I can take personality tests that validate my behavior until the cows have baby cows and then those baby cows have their own baby cows and those third-generation cows finally come home. But that won't change the fact that my Self is just a story that I tell to myself that is, just like any other story, subjective and incomplete and at least a little bit of a lie.

I've got my way of seeing the world, I've got my values, I've got the stuff that I care about, the people I care about, all those things! They're important, they're real! But where did they come from? Certainly not things that I was born with!

I am me, right now. I have not always been this me. Throughout my life, who I am has been largely dependant on what people expect of me.

There is a truly weird and unexplained link between bad eyesight and intelligence. One of the theories that explains this (and my favorite) is that kids who wear glasses look smarter to their peers and to their parents, their teachers, and those people then expect them to be smart. And then those kids are smart. They just fulfill those expectations and become smart. It's certainly well known that the belief that a child is intelligent will result in that child becoming more intelligent, even if the original belief was falsely planted there.

So, like, now I have a bunch of people who watch me make videos, and they respect me and trust me. And so I try to become a person worthy of that trust and respect. But not all the time. Sometimes I'm down to clown, sometimes I'm introspective and I just want to stare at the wall and sing. I crave consistency in myself, but my Self denies me of that simplicity.

So we look to books and BuzzFeed quizzes and personality tests and horoscopes to tell us who we might be. To see what others might think! To tell us that we are doing a good job at becoming the kind of person we want to be. And to tell us that it's okay to be the kind of person that you are! But all of these things are such pale reflections of the indescribably weird and complex thing that is the Self!

Identity is important to try to define, but there isn't some perfect, Platonic ideal of what You is buried beneath all of the gunk. Figuring out who you are (at least at this particular moment) is all about trying to tease out which bits are you trying to fulfill other people's expectations for your whole life, what bits you want to change to make yourself better, and what bits you cherish as vital to your "You"-ness.

But people who are like "Be Yourself!" and they expect that to mean something?? That is not advice, that's an existential crisis waiting to happen.

These tools that we use to help us define ourselves, to help us figure out who we are, they are fine as tools, but they are not walls to box ourselves in with. You will wake up one day and you will not be the you you once were. And that will keep happening to you until you die, which is kind of wonderful! Why live life as just one person, when you can be so many different people?

A little scarier, perhaps, but as with a lot of things that scare me, turns out, also pretty fun.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.