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You Made Yourself Into Who You Are

Warning, Bourne Ultimatum spoiler ahead.

In the final Bourne movie, Jason Bourne finally discovers his true identity. He discovers who and what made him into a completely new person, an assassin. And the truth is: he made Jason Bourne.

Certainly, the creepy government agents helped. They were the ones who stripped his brain of his past…but he consented beforehand. He even insisted. They turned him into a trained killer at his own request.

He did it because he thought it would be the right thing to do. But after his accident, he found himself questioning all that. Ironically, he couldn’t remember that this had been his own decision. Instead, he blamed others.

In the same way, I think we often find ourselves wondering “wait…how did I get here?” “Who made me this person?”

The answer is—primarily, you did.

It’s time for the usual disclaimer that there are a lot of things in life that we can’t control. Those things also shape who we become. But what really truly shapes us is how we respond to them. Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor psychologist, wrote about Man’s Search for Meaning and came up with the theory that people can react well to even the worst situation. In fact, that’s how they survive.

The good news is this means you can make yourself into who you’re going to be.

If you’re in debt, who you’re becoming will still be in debt. But maybe that person is headed out of debt. The you of becoming doesn’t have to be in debt forever. You get to choose how and who you want to be. If you have decided that you hate debt, you can cultivate a life where you no longer get into debt. You can cultivate a life where you’re getting out of debt.

What you’re doing every day is a part of becoming. Maybe you’re becoming more and more sedentary. Maybe you’re becoming deeper and deeper in debt. But I hope that you’re becoming more and more peaceful, more and more fulfilled, more and more debt-free.

If you’re like me, you’ve still got a long ways to go. But that’s ok. Every day is becoming and progress little by little will get you there.

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Emily May 6, 2008 at 5:10 pm


Excellent post! It’s so easy for people to blame others for what they dislike about their life but it boils down to only one person can change it if you don’t like and that is you. Taking responsibility for what one doesn’t like in life, owning it, and fixing it are hard to do but worth it.

And I love the Bourne series 🙂

Eden May 6, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Heres to taking responsibility for our own lives! Something that doesn’t seem to be so fashionable these days…

Laura May 6, 2008 at 6:52 pm

I’ve have not met a successful person who didn’t take responsibility for their actions.
It’s tough, but you can improve until you realize what your responsibility is to yourself and others. I try to work on it day by day.

Jason Burne rocks..

James May 6, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Ms Micah,

Ah! The proverbial question, how much of your life outcomes are due choice or other factors?

If we take the argument to the logical conclusion- then it leads to some very sticky implications regarding race and class.

For example, its pretty much a given statistical fact that African Americans make less income and have lower overall levels of net worth.

Should we then conclude that African Americans are poor by choice? By extension, are patterns of financial decision making different in the African-American community? Or, is it something about race that makes African Americans poorer?

Regarding class – how does the notion of the importance of individual choice play into class based inheritance patterns? Should we say that the 3rd and 4th generation of Rockefellers are rich because of their own actions? What about the wealth of Bill Gates children?

Now, I am frankly undecided on this question. Individual choice plays a role, to be sure, but how large of a role it plays seems like an open book.



Cath Lawson May 7, 2008 at 4:14 am

Hi Mrs M – Brilliant post. I guess two people could experience almost identical problems in life, but they could turn out completely different depending on how they react to them.

I also still have a long way to go. When I was ill for a long time, I used to get myself down about how hopeless life was and how I’d missed the most important parts through being ill. My attitude was so self destructive.

In the end I just told myself that it could carry on being like that, or I could concentrate on getting well, forget about what I’d lost and make the future better.

Mark May 7, 2008 at 9:54 am

Mrs. Michah, a most timely post for me. Thank you for putting so much into it. I’m in the process of picking myself up by the bootstraps and moving on. It isn’t easy but the alternative isn’t either.

Heidi May 7, 2008 at 9:58 am

Well said.

Taking responsibility for how your life turns out – it’s called having a high internal locus of control. Mine has steadily increased in the last five years. It’s amazing the mountains you can move when you take full ownership of your past and future.

deepali May 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Good post, even if I disagree somewhat. 🙂

Taking responsibility for your actions (and reactions) is the mature thing to do. But it isn’t always accurate. We are, as much as we don’t want to think it, products of our environments. Much of our behavior is learned. It can be unlearned, true, but the opportunity has to exist to do so.

Alice May 8, 2008 at 8:14 am

I agree that external factors can play a huge role in a person’s wealth or lack of it. However, I think that everyone has the opportunity to choose who they are: not in terms of worldly wealth, but their character.

I think you’re right about our being shaped and influenced by all kinds of things, and not everyone has the courage or honesty to face up to their past (to see what influenced them) or their present (to see what they’re really like).

Good post, my dear!

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