Keeping up with Kincaid: Am I a man or am I a muppet?

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Laken Kincaid

Managing Editor, Laken Kincaid, discusses the idea of failure and the pressure it holds.

Laken Kincaid, Campus Editor

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Just exactly how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? If a mysterious figure named Peter Piper decided to pick a multitude of peppers, somehow already pickled, where did he place his newfound collection of brined vegetables?

Other age-old questions include: how far does the natural world expand? Are we alone in the galaxy? Eventually, my hair brained self circles back to why can’t woodchucks chuck wood? Then again, I know I have a unique thought process that permits entertainment from the slightest of intrigues. I have spent hours Googling woodchucks before my melatonin kicks in at night. 

While I do ponder the infiniteness of the universe and the true meaning behind literary tongue-twisters, the question which nags at me the most is the question of who I truly am. Of course, there is always the discussion of past lives but I tend to look at my present life (I do believe I was a pirate in my past life but that is a side note). 

I have previously harped on the importance of self discovery in college in a multitude of my past columns so it seems to be a moot point. Yet, it is obviously not something I have gotten through my thick skull so here we are again writing another piece about it.

One of the best realizations I have made on this voyage is finding out that I am not alone on this ever winding journey of knowing one’s true self. Who would have thought that others feel the same way? 

My best example comes from none other than “The Muppets” (2011). 

In “The Muppets”, we see the story of brothers Gary (played by Jason Segel) and Walter (played by Walter) who band together to help save Muppet Studios. However, along the way, they face some of their own identity probing. About halfway through the film,  the audience is graced with the absolute banger of a song “Man or Muppet” performed by Gary and Walter. In the catchy tune, the two explore who they are and what their paths are in life. Therefore another age-old question presents itself: am I a man or am I a muppet? Other inquiries include is: Segel a muppet of a man? Is Walter actually Jim Parsons behind all of the fluff and stuffing? However, we will only be focusing on the initial topic for the purposes of this column yet I encourage further research for those interested.

All jokes aside, one line that stood out to me in the ballad was what Walter said in his initial verse: “I look into these eyes and I don’t recognize the one I see inside.” I. Got. Chills. When I heard this in the theater, I was taken aback (please disregard the fact that I was only nine at the time this movie came out). 

I have taken a myriad of personality tests and examined my attributes and traits from as impersonal of a lens as possible. Yet, there is still the nagging feeling that the person looking back at me in the mirror isn’t who I actually am. I begin to wonder if I even knew who I was in the first place before scrutinizing my behavior under a magnifying glass. 

Neurodivergents like myself have these nagging ideas often. One common intrusive thought is that I am subconsciously manipulating all those around me into enjoying my presence because I am so intolerable. Therefore, I mimic those around me so that I am likable and have no knowledge of who I truly am without masking. I acknowledge that my approach to conversation changes depending on who I am around; the same goes for my habits and the topics that get discussed. I act more seriously around my professors and bosses than I do with friends and work peers. Does this mean I do not know who lies beneath “the acts?”

While you may argue that it is acceptable to change your actions depending on who you are around, you may even suggest it is something to strive for, this adaptability leaves me plagued with anxiety that I am no one without someone near me to replicate. Am I a puppet controlled by those around me?

Then again, maybe the ability is what makes me who I am. I am sure that in most conversations I am still scatterbrained, ambitious and kind of hilarious. However, I do what I can to make people comfortable, and that is no fault of mine. It is just a courtesy I naturally take. Perhaps it has behooved me to consider these acts a trait that makes me who I am and not just a reflection of those I interact with most. My ability to conform displays my respect and kindness towards others which, underneath, could be the core of who I am. Perhaps my discourse in questioning who I am is a trait in and of itself. 

I look back at those questions we ponder and accept that a woodchuck can not chuck wood and that Peter Piper was actually a character from a story that I should not worry about. Yet, the discussion of if I am a man or if I am a muppet remains. In the end, I think I want to continue to ponder this query for a while rather than coming to a conclusion hastily. There are multiple facets of my personality that dictate who I am and how I present myself and questioning those allows me to acknowledge who I will become for the rest of my story.