I have a theory about people. Well, I have lots of those, but here is one of them.
One thing I've noticed about college-aged folks is that there is a wide variety of maturity among them. I do not wish to speak of vices and poor habits, but particularly the part of maturity I call "self-awareness."
To be "self-aware" in the particular sense that I refer to it is not the same as sentience, the difference between humans and other animals, but the amount someone is aware of their true self.
I believe this manifests itself in a few levels: the amount someone is in touch with their own feelings. Feelings, in this sense, goes beyond just emotions, but also opinions and thoughts about the nature of who they are and what they do. If you're confused, just keep reading.
The first level of self-awareness is "I feel." At this level, the person is just self-aware enough to express something. You begin at this level as a baby.
The second level of self-awareness is "I am feeling." At this level, the person expresses feelings and is aware of them. Usually some time after a person starts talking they are able to reach this level.
The third level of self-awareness is "I am feeling because." At this level, the person is aware of their feelings and is aware of their source. Much like the second level, some time after a person starts talking they are able to work at this level, perhaps less frequently.
The fourth level of self-awareness is "I have felt." At this level, the person is able to reflect on past feelings and see how they have felt certain ways over time and see some level of a pattern.
The fifth level of self-awareness is "I have felt because." At this level, the person is able to reflect on past feelings, see how they have felt over time, see a clear pattern and understand their feelings in a larger context.
The sixth level of self-awareness is "I feel because." This is the highest level of self-awareness in which the person is able to achieve all of the aspects of the fifth level but also integrate this awareness in every day life and relate it easily and clearly to him or herself and others.
If this idea is confusing, let's make an example. Let's say a person were asked about being bullied at a young age. Someone in "I feel" would simply cry. Someone in "I am feeling" would tell you they feel sad. Someone in "I am feeling because" would tell you they feel sad because you brought up that memory. Someone in "I have felt" would tell you that being bullied made them sad but they eventually got out of it and it only upsets them when people bring it up. Someone in "I have felt because" would tell you that being bullied made them sad, that they eventually got over it, that it upsets them when people bring it up, that they are sometimes insecure because of it, and this causes them to sometimes react very strongly to gossip. Someone in "I feel because" would tell you everything in the previous sentence without having to think about it for very long.
People with higher levels of self-awareness don't wear masks very much. They are more genuine, more real, more in touch with themselves. People on lower levels of self-awareness wear masks a lot...even lower, they may not even realize they're wearing one. People of higher levels of self-awareness are better able to understand others with lower levels. Ever watch a little kid do or say something and think "I know what he's thinking, and furthermore, I know he doesn't realize I know what he's thinking." That's what I mean.
Most people I meet that are a little younger than me are functioning somewhere between the third and fourth level of self-awareness. Sometimes I wonder if they realize how obvious it is to others functioning on a higher level of self-awareness how much about themselves they're hiding, and how unaware they are of how they are acting. They're pretty easy to manipulate, too.
I can always tell when I meet someone who's on the fifth or sixth level. They're very interesting people and fun to talk to about living life and talking about "deeper things." I feel like when I'm talking to someone on the sixth level, we just sort of "connect" in such a knowing way.
All of this is really hard to describe. I'm pretty sure this blog post doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Oh well.
There was a dream that I dreamed, a dream for greater self-awareness.