There’s a quote from the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness movie that’s been a foundation aspect of my life because it mirrors how I’ve felt since my life got turned upside in 2001 with the Dot-Com Bubble bursting and I’ve had to try to reinvent myself in this rapidly changing world.
I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I only know what I can do.James Tiberius Kirk, Star Trek: Into Darkness
Last night, while watching the final episode of the Disney+ series American Born Chinese, there’s a pivotal scene where Jin, the main character, is talking to his mother and father in a dream sequence. At one point, he says, “I don’t know how” in response to his mother asking him to unlock his strength which mirrors the feeling of the quote above from Star Trek: Into Darkness. But in response to Jin’s confusion, his father responds with, “Just be you, Jin. Just be you.”
You have to be brave Jin.
But what if I’m not?
Do you know who you are?
You are worlds clashing into each other.
You are all the pieces merging into one.
You are everything we ever hoped for.
None of it makes sense Mom.
I wish you know how much strength you have inside you.
You just have to unlock it.
I don’t know how.
Simon WangAmerican Born Chinese
Just be you, Jin.
Just be you.
This is an extremely poignant and pivotal part of the show because up until this time, Jin’s been struggling to try to fit in at his high school, so as to try to attain a sense of belonging within it. But to really attain a sense of true belonging with himself (as Brené Brown describes it), he needs to accept who he truly is.
Why this is so poignant on a larger scale is because it mirrors how identity and growth truly work in real life, as explained by these paradoxical quotes below.
What occurs in these systems is contrary to our normal way of thinking. Openness to the environment over time spawns a stronger system, one that is less susceptible to externally induced change. What comes to dominate over time is not outside influences, but the self-organizing dynamics of the system itself. Because it partners with its environment, the system develops increasing autonomy from the environment and also develops new capacities that make it increasingly resourceful.
I say this is contrary thinking because we usually act from the reverse belief. We believe that in order to maintain ourselves and protect our individual freedom, we must defend ourselves from external forces. We tend to think that isolation, secrecy, and strong boundaries are the best way to preserve individuality.
Paradoxically, it is the system’s need to maintain itself that may lead it to be come something new and different. A living system changes in order to preserve itself.Margaret Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science
Briefly stated, it is this: that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is — to be fully invested in his current positions. By rejecting the role of change agent, we make meaningful and orderly change possible.Arnold Beisser M.D., Paradoxical Theory of Change
The ultimate dragon we encounter is to face who we really are and portray ourselves authentically to others. Mastery as a change practitioner is impossible unless we do this. Only then can we match our true Character and Presence with clients who value both what we do and who we are.Daryl Conner, A Hero’s Journey for the Practitioner
In reflecting upon this all, I realize that my life’s journey the last couple of decades hasn’t been about trying to reinvent myself. It’s about just being myself.
In other words, until I unequivocally embrace who I am and what’s pulling me deeper into a larger sense of self-identity, nothing will change in my life. So I have to let go of trying to make sense out of everything right now (as well as the uneasy feeling of uncertainty that relates to it) and just fully dive into who I truly am so as to let the process of who I am becoming naturally occur.