Thoughts: Forgetting Yourself vs. Everyone Else

I woke up one morning to this message from a friend: “Would you rather wake up one day and forget who you were or forget everyone else you knew?”

Groggily, I misread the question and replied with “Forget who I am… I don’t have time or money to go back and learn multiplication”. I thought he had asked about forgetting yourself or everything you knew.

After sitting down and thinking about it some more, I have decided that I would rather wake up one day and forget who I am.

Both are important, of course, which is why frankly no one would ever want to have to choose between the two options. My final choice reflects my desire to regain both attributes in the least amount of time.

First, the fact that I can remember “Hey, that’s my mom” or “That girl is my best friend” already indicates a basic outline of who I am at the very least. The relationships that I remember with other people tell me who I am to that person. Therefore, even after forgetting who I am, at least I know I am a daughter to this person or a friend to that person. Additionally, remembering the people I know will tell me about what kind of people I enjoy being with. If I remember a person as a friend, there must be a reason for it. There must be something that connects us, whether it is a shared hobby or a past experience. Again, this tells me more about my own interests and things I’ve done. I personally believe more in learning from others, anyways.

Second, don’t all adolescents go through some form of identity-crisis anyways? The whole “who am I?” black hole that many youth undergo as they enter stages of young adulthood may not be as extreme in this hypothetical case, but at least it gives a sense of losing one’s self. You wonder, “What is my purpose for living?” Everyone spends their life trying to figure out themselves, so how is this any different? Maybe the difference is that in this situation, people actually give you time to figure yourself out.

Third, you have more time and resources to learn about yourself again. Essentially, you are with “yourself” all the time. In my room alone I have about 7-8 journals stacked as self-documentation of my own days. Look at all the stuff in your own room, your clothes, and the objects you value enough to keep in your own personal space. Those are all things that also reflect what kind of a person you are. Trying to remember everyone else seems almost impossible with no actual evidence of your friendship (except maybe Facebook… “see friendship”).

Fourth, you may not care too much about remembering everyone else, but you will have to find out who you are. You can’t just continue on with no idea of your own values, strengths, or flaws. So rationally, you will make yourself remember and re-learn your “self” or create a new “self” completely. And when that is finished, you will have both your relationships with others and your mended or newly formulated relationship with your “self”. Whereas if it was the other way around, there is no way you will be able to mend your relationship with everyone you knew.

If I wake up and forget everyone else I know, I’m afraid I will be struck with a deep fear from all the strangers around me. I will probably be paranoid and lost. Any roots of mine will have vanished, and it won’t fully be regrown just by looking at old photos or videos. I would feel so very alone and detached from the world. I imagine myself looking at myself in photos with friends or family, but feeling nothing. Even if I remember who I am in terms of my own personality, goals, and knowledge, I wonder if I will be able to withstand looking at a “me” who I don’t feel like is even “me”.

But! If you choose to forget everyone else around you, then you’ll be able to see who your real friends are! Your real friends will be there for you and your not-real friends will just allow themselves to be forgotten.

That may be true, but I don’t necessarily find that as some attractive benefit that will help the situation. Sometimes, just because another person doesn’t care about being forgotten by you doesn’t mean you should just forget them. As for the “real friends” effect, I’m sure that either way a real friend would be there for you anyways.

Friends, she had realized, could make you do that. Forget the things that worried you most.
― Jodi Lynn Anderson, May Bird Among the Stars

What would you choose?


2 thoughts on “Thoughts: Forgetting Yourself vs. Everyone Else

  1. That is a very interesting question worth serious consideration. For the choice, “Forgetting who we are” – if that means not just remembering our past and identity, but a total wipe of all learned special skills, that would be pretty devastating since it would be like starting over again from the last thing you can remember. That would have serious consequences for being able to support yourself or maintaining your current position. Our personalities could be radically changed by new experiences without the benefit of past experience and knowledge.

    On the other hand, forgetting everyone else means you lose all the bonds and connections created throughout your life, which could also be traumatic and dangerous. Not only would you lose the knowledge of who your closest friends are, you’d have no idea who your greatest enemies are either, who could now pose as a ” good friend”.

    I’d have to really think about that question some more before I could answer, but I lean towards forgetting everyone else since if I can remain intact, the important people in my life could still find me and help me remember who they are in my life and I would be able to function and form similar bonds and relationships as before.

    For those suffering from traumatic memories or deep regrets, there could be benefits from forgetting ones self or relationships as it presents a chance to start over again fresh.

To Loewe:

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