Knowing yourself aka Am I the Passenger or Driver?

Who am I? Where am I? Am I Ryan Gosling or am I the passenger at the back?

These are important questions to ask if you are striving for success, happiness, productivity and achievement. A saying you may have heard is that “you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with”. Let’s pretend that you’re in car, and you’re sitting with these five people. First, if it’s a five seater then this is illegal already (5+1=6 duh) <dadjoke>.

But pretend that you’re in a people mover. Look around you, at the people sitting around you. Where are they going with their lives? What goals are they trying to achieve? Am I just along for the ride because I’m scared of change? If this is the case, there’s a good chance you are the passenger. As a passenger, will I look back and regret not taking the wheel? There probably has been lot’s of examples of this already.

There’s nothing wrong with being a passenger, I mean heck my 4.75 Uber rating suggests I’m an great passenger. However, I’d invite you to zoom out of your life, and take an eagle’s eye point of view. By doing that, you get to see the bigger picture. For some, this is frightening. It’s terrifying to be driving to McDonalds when you’re vegan. For others, it is invigorating because where they are going ties in with who they are. And for the rest, it’s somewhere in between.

The family environment and personal experiences you have had shape your beliefs throughout your life, and have a large hand in shaping the driver vs passenger identity.

Jordan Peterson, in his book “12 Rules for Life”, has the following:

“You must determine where you have been in your life, so that you can know where you are now. If you don’t know where you are, precisely, then you could be anywhere. Anywhere is too many places to be, and some of those places are very bad. You must determine where you have been in your life, because otherwise you can’t get to where you’re going. You can’t get from point A to point B unless you are already at point A, and if you’re just “anywhere” the chances you are at point A are very small indeed.”

Therefore it’s important to know where your car is heading, because you cannot get there unless you move in that direction. Random wandering will not move you forward (unless you’re in Counterstrike trying to snipe that guy between the doors). It will instead disappoint and frustrate you and make you anxious and unhappy and hard to get along with (and then resentful, and then vengeful, and then worse).

Some will hide this pain well, with alcohol, drugs, gambling and so on. This is like not liking where your friends are driving you, so you cope with it by putting on a blindfold and some earphones. Sure, this may be fun for a while, however deep down- how is this lining up with who you want to be? What am I worried about if I take off the escapism? That I won’t be able to cope? What if I can? What happens then?

What solutions are there to knowing yourself?

Here’s a quick checklist:

[  ]  I know what values I strive for

[  ] I know how to set boundaries with others that aren’t in line with my values

[  ] I acknowledge my mistakes, because these behaviours and feelings teach me about who I’d rather not be

[  ] I say what I mean, so that I can find out what I mean

[  ] I have a destination set, and I have others that will support me in this journey

Practice reflection, zoom out ask yourself the hard questions and make the choice that is right for you. Be the driver, take the wheel!


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