It’s fantastic to know and understand what you think, and how you feel about life, the universe and everything. It gives you identity and helps you make decisions quickly, without agonising over the possibilities. For example, if a friend suddenly turns to you and suggests you steal something from a shop, you understand whether that is acceptable to you or not and can quickly reply with “yes, that’s a great idea!” or “no, that’s ridiculous.” Without this self assurance, it can become very difficult to know what to do in such situations. People start to default to whether the loyalty they have to their friend is stronger than that of the loyalty to someone with the opposing view – they conform to the views of the person they like rather than searching for their own opinion.
If you don’t know who you are, or where your morals come from – perhaps you’ve never thought about it – I would be making that a priority in my life if I were you. Too many people live their entire life as someone else, just a sheep following the flock never finding out what they believe themselves. How many men support the same sports team as their fathers from a young age onwards? A very basic example, that’s true, but the principle shines through. It takes many people a long time to make the connection that they’re morals do not have to be the same as their parents’ – or their teachers’. Not everything you were taught in school is ‘true’, much of what you were taught was government opinion at the time. I’m not saying that this makes any of it particularly questionable, but it certainly doesn’t make it indisputably correct. The truth is, when it comes to morality, you cannot say for certain that one thing is correct over another, you need to find what you believe to be truth; whether that’s achieved by accepting an entire moral system or by making independent decisions on individual issues.
There are very good reasons to prioritise finding this personal identity over other things in your life. Firstly, you don’t want to end up doing things that you’ll disagree with in the future. It would be incredibly awkward to become a professional criminal, only to realise you were a Christian (not that it is impossible to do so.) You can work yourself into situations where it is very difficult to change your way of life, regardless of what you truly believe about it – just because of the huge investment you have made in it. You may already be in that situation, doing something you know to be wrong; lying to yourself. I assure you, there’s always a way out, it just may be scary or hard to find. And then there’s the fact that life is fragile. One day, you will die. There have been billions of people to live on Earth and none of them have yet escaped death. I don’t mean to be depressive on this subject, just realistic – when I die, I want to die knowing I seized the day; I knew who I was and I acted on it every day. I want to feel like my life was worthwhile and I didn’t just sit at home avoiding moral confrontation. That may just be me, I don’t know that for sure. But, to me, that’s the only way to live.