To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. -e.e. cummings
One of the biggest challenges in life is discovering the people we are rather than creating the people that are acceptable to others. People need to be accepted or perceived as a certain type of person, so instead of just being who we are, we rely possessions and words to define us. We use a label, like "climber," "metal-head," or "artist," to define us. Our lives then revolve around that label. We buy certain things, shop certain places, wear a certain brand of clothing, dye our hair a certain color, and we only partake in activities that are suiting to the image we want to give off. We can basically create a person that we want to be. When I was in Alaska on a NOLS trip, I saw what happens when people are stripped of their labels and material possessions. We were a group of people from different backgrounds sent out to brave the Alaskan wilderness as a team. When we were in the backcountry, you couldn't tell who was the hippie or who was the frat boy. We all looked the same; dirty and wearing rain jackets, hats, hiking pants, and boots. Our looks and our possessions didn't matter. Our true selves were exposed because we didn't have anything to hide behind. We had what we needed to survive and that was it. We didn't talk about who had the most high tech phone or what brand of jeans was our favorite. Those things weren't important anymore, so it opened up the conversation to deep and meaningful subjects. Real friendships were developed based on who we were as people, not by our possessions or our image. After we got back into society after a month, it was weird seeing everyone dressed in their everyday clothes and talking about the car they owned or the job they had to go back to. It was like that wasn't them. It was then I learned that people who live off of the bare minimum are their true selves. Possessions and labels don't define them, they are just living and being. Living in nature with the bare minimum is key in overcoming the challenge of discovering our true selves. When you have nothing to hide behind, all that is left is you.