The notion that we all must be one way at our core has always been somewhat baffling to me. One of the main teachings of the religion I was raised in is that we are all able to make our own decisions, and to me, that means the ability to change ourselves. In that case, there is no core (exactly) because we can change ourselves.
We see this idea of “core self” play out in popular society too. Women are nurturing because of estrogen, men are brutes because of testosterone. This notion is pervasive, but many of us also accept it as untrue. We all have these hormones present in our bodies at different levels. Many men are not brutes, many women are not “born nurturers.”
With all of this, I’m sure you can imagine my relief that there are actual scholars that agree with my idea that a core identity isn’t exactly true. Julian Baggini spoke to a group of young people in Manchester about the experiences we choose making who we are. That we are not the sum of our experiences, rather we are a collection of experiences and our reflections about them. Throw in the experiences we choose to have and we have a person.
You might be wondering what this thought process has to do with self-care. So, what if we have no core self? I think the notion that we aren’t fixed to be extremely empowering and can help us choose self-care activities that will help us be the people we want to be. This notion can also help us choose self-care activities that acknowledge where we are in our lives. What self-care looks like when you’re a student or parent looks a lot different than if you’re a single person working full time.
What do you think about the notion of a core self and is it empowering to you to feel like you can be yourself while honoring this season in your life?