What stops people from becoming themselves?

What stops people from becoming themselves? This is a strange question since you can argue that we are already ourselves. It is a valid point, but if you consider a plant growing in an ideal environment, with all the nutrients and support it needs it would grow differently than one germinating under a bridge in the city.

I think the biggest factor that affects us is our environment. We are social creatures and peer pressure, culture and habit play a much larger role than we would like to admit. To this end I believe that the biggest factor that prevents us from in not becoming ourselves is the mould we are forced to grow into by our parent’s and greater society’s beliefs. All the beliefs we would never choose for ourselves but internalise anyway. Take for example political affiliation. If you had absolutely no political affiliation up until the age you were able to vote would you still choose the same party you associate with now, or along similar lines for religion? If you had no exposure to religion and had the opportunity at the age of 18 to pick one would you still end up choosing the same beliefs?

Much of who we are is shaped by who we think we are. If we just took the time every once in a while to look at our beliefs in an objective light, view them as an ignorant outsider, we might get a glimpse of how to better become ourselves.

[Inspired by this passage from HPMOR]

She let him go on like that until she’d finished pouring herself a glass of grapefruit juice, and then she said, “I’ve got a question for you, Mr. Potter. How do you think people fail to become themselves?”

What??” said Harry.

She looked at him. “Pretend there isn’t all this stuff going on,” she said, “and just say whatever you’d have said yesterday.”

“Um…” Harry said, looking very confused and worried. “I think we already are ourselves… it’s not like I’m an imperfect copy of someone else. But I guess if I try to run with the sense of the question, then I’d say that people don’t become themselves because we absorb all this crazy stuff from the environment and then regurgitate it. I mean, how many people playing Quidditch would be playing a game like that if they’d invented the game themselves? Or back in Muggle Britain, how many people who think of themselves as Labour or Conservative or Liberal Democrat would invent that exact bundle of political beliefs if they had to come up with everything themselves?”