Extreme Introspection

In August 2014, I decided I want to pursue my masters in 2015. I found a course I love and I applied. The thing is they want to know what I want from life. To everyone that is curious about what it’s like to write your Statement of Purpose and to those who aren’t, I am going to put it out there anyway – Writing an SOP is like introspecting on a very disturbing level. On a serious note, however, the process of listing down what I want, how I want to attain it and why I deserve it has been a beautiful roller-coaster. For the past couple of months I have been writing, re-writing the draft to my statement of purpose.

Sometimes I find myself forgetting how I got to a certain point in life. Some journeys are not memorable but they are as important as the ones that stay with you. I have a feeling I will forget the process of writing my sop. This being an important memory, I am going to record it.

For as long as I can remember, I have practised introspection on a daily basis…as a hobby. I think about everything I read, everything I do, and why I do it, and how I do it, and what is the meaning of life? Not only do I practice this on myself, I also think about the lives of other people. I try to analyse their actions, the motivations behind them and how I would have reacted if I was in that situation. I learn from other peoples’ experiences as well as my own. As I began to write my personal statement I realised soon enough that this was going to be no joke. This wasn’t a piece of writing for a target audience. It is for me to recognise my desire. When I reflect on my life, I like to be free. I don’t restrict my thoughts or opinions based on norms and expectations. There’s a world I build inside my head. I think in random order and then connect it all. To put it simply, my mind is a messy room with piles of information, aspirations and ideas; and only I know how to get around. Writing the SOP was like cleaning up that room for anyone else to wander through.

It wasn’t the kind of introspection I was comfortable with. This was extreme and  organised. I normally think of my personal and professional life in separate strings of thought. Though my professional aspirations are driven by my personal ethics I never consciously analyse it as part of my daily “personal growth” introspection. As I began to pen down my story for someone else to read, I found parts that I never deeply connected to. They were just there – passing obsessions that were never weeded out. I had been holding onto false ambitions – some that have evolved with time, and some that had no real reason to exist in my mind to begin with. I had to take a step back and read the prose from another person’s perspective; I had to be truthful about what I saw. With every word I began to recognise my true aspirations and my ability to fulfill them. I was surprised at how much I had underestimated myself, and on occasions, overestimated too.

Am I who I am today, or am I who I want to be tomorrow, or am I who I was yesterday? This is a question that made me most anxious. Not because I don’t know the answer, but because I don’t know how this answer will manifest itself in my future. The process that began with me trying to be the perfect candidate for a particular course, ended with a discovery of my aspirations today and a motivation to move beyond what I discovered. And hence begins my new year with so much to look forward to.

  1. Its funny that you talk about this because I was dealing with a similar situation very recently. I was struggling with the conundrum of presenting the essence of my life to someone who is hearing from me for the first time, and I was extremely motivated to be absolutely honest about this, but had a hard time removing the filter in my brain that allows only the parts that I deem ‘interesting’ to get through.

    Time and again I’ve asked people what they find interesting about me, or why I’m able to make a mark in their life, and the answers are not the things that I consider to be representative of my personality at all. I have very few things in life that can be called ‘core values’ or morals to live by, and that is what I believe defines me as a person. That is what would probably come out if I had to boil down the essence of my existence to a few hundred words on a piece of paper. But when I show that paper to the people closest to me, I constantly find them shaking their head as they’re reading through, in a ‘that’s-not-you-at-all’ manner.

    In effect, does that mean that my projection of myself as a person is completely different from what I inherently believe are my core values. If yes, then what kind of conflicted existence is this?

    • That is something I have often questioned. Am I a projection of my beliefs or are my beliefs a projection of what others think of me? And the answer will always be in flux. One reacts differently to different people and situations. To restrict oneself to a single set of traits is what makes the existence conflicted. The question to be asked is “who do I want to be today?” I have found that today, I am who I want to be tomorrow. Tomorrow, I may want to be someone else. Beliefs change every second – In my opinion, one just needs to be aware of the fact and accept it. Those that are close to you, their parameters of judging you change as well. So you can never know who you are; only who you want to be.

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