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  • Barbara Emrys

I Am What I Am

They say people don’t change. And they’re usually right. It’s easy to be cynical about someone else, saying, “He is what he is, and he’ll never change.” We tend to say the same about ourselves.


“I am what I am,” you might have heard yourself say once or twice. But what does that mean? Does it mean you’ll never change, or is it your excuse not to change?


“I am what I am,” is a simple statement of truth. The problem is that few people actually recognize the truth of what they are.

There are so many ways we can define ourselves. We can say we’re male or female, lucky or cursed, Taurus or Virgo. We can identify as citizens of one country or another. We can claim to be human beings, or refugees from an alien species. We say all sorts of things, but none of it is really true.


We’ll never know what we are. We’re as mysterious as life itself. We’re as incomprehensible as energy. We’re as miraculous as light. We are so much more than words can describe…and so much more than knowledge can explain.


“I am what I am,” says you’re certain of what you are, and that you’re equally certain you’ll never change. It even suggests that you’d like to avoid change. Changing behaviors and attitudes takes an act of will. It takes self-respect. It takes practice, and that might sound too hard to do.

To most people, change sounds like too much trouble. It’s too emotionally challenging. It’s like an extreme diet, right? Except that, in this case, the food you need to avoid may be the food you never realized you were eating.

Your emotional appetites might be keeping you from being a happier person. How? A steady diet of outrage throws your world off balance. Too much drama makes your relationships unstable. And how often do you gorge on self-pity, just for fun?

Let’s say it’s impossible for you to resist a hearty meal of guilt. It’s hard not to be jealous. And it’s a pleasure to bask in someone’s sympathy. You know you shouldn’t eat that stuff, but how do you stop the cravings?

As with any diet, you want to develop a taste for things that promote your emotionally health. They may be foods you’ve been avoiding your entire life– foods like love, truth, and self-awareness. Those are healthy, sustainable foods.

Once you get a taste for truth, for instance, it’s all you’ll ever want to eat. Awareness makes you less tolerant of emotional poison, even your own. And unconditional love for yourself can become a lifelong indulgence, if you let it.

They say people don’t change, but some do. Some insist on changing, out of respect for themselves. They challenge their core beliefs, and they face their most stubborn fears. They choose the inconvenience of waking up over the comfort of a waking sleep….

“I am what I am,” doesn’t mean what you think it means. It speaks to the inexplicable mystery of you. Behind the words, you can almost hear life inviting you to explore new tastes and experiences. You can feel it calling you closer to truth.

My advice is to put down whatever you’re eating, and go.


-Barbara Emrys

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