“Who am I?” is the title of one of the episodes of Sense 8, a series written by the Wachowsky sisters. It’s a difficult question to answer. In fact, you may well have asked it of yourself and didn’t come up with a clear answer.
The character of Lito Rodríguez, one of the eight protagonists of Sense 8, makes it clear that “no one is better than anyone else”. We’re all equal and unique. In this particular episode, he tells us about the importance of roles and the danger of labels.
“Who am I? Do you mean where I’m from? What I see? What I one day might become? What I do? What I’ve done? What I dream? Do you mean what I’ve seen? What I fear or what I dream? Do you mean who I love? Do you mean who I’ve lost? Who am I? I guess who I am is exactly the same as who you are. Not better than. Not less than. Because there is no one who has been or ever will be exactly the same as either you or me.”
-Lito Rodríguez, a character from the series Sense 8-
Roles and labels
Who am I? You often answer this with your name, profession, age, where you live, how many children you have, or your marital status, etc. In fact, you seek to respond with what you believe characterizes you. Furthermore, what you feel is a useful way of presenting yourself.
In reality, your response is what you believe will be socially acceptable. In other words, what other people expect to hear. In fact, you tend to believe that these roles make you who you are. However, is this really the case?
People around you have probably been telling you what you’re like for years. Indeed, they’ve repeated it so many times that you now believe it. Consequently, you’ve taken that role on because you feel it’s what’s expected of you.
For example, you may believe you’re a weak or a cold person. Not because you are, but because you feel that’s what’s become expected of you. It’s like others open up a space for you and you simply “slide in”.
However, labels are harmful and dangerous. They lead you to judge a person without even knowing them. For instance, you might judge someone by their skin color, race, religion, or sexual orientation without ever getting to really know them.
“To remember who you are, you need to forget who they told you to be.”
Who am I?
Lito’s reflection makes it clear that answering the question “who am I?” is both simple and complex at the same time. It’s complex because you’re seeking a unique answer that doesn’t even seem to exist. This is because you’re actually the result of your past, present, and future experiences. On the other hand, it’s simple, because you’re a unique human being building your own history day by day. You do this with every decision you make and each interaction you have with anyone who crosses your path.
Indeed, you’re so much more than that predetermined role you didn’t even choose for yourself. You’re much more of everything. In fact, you’re a perfect combination of both chosen and unchosen roles.
Who Am I? A Question to Challenge the Ego