Who you are does not have to be so rigid that you force yourself to be defined by ticking several boxes and sticking to them. You can be one thing today and another thing next week.
So often we go through life trying to find ourselves and figure out who we are so that we can settle into ourselves. Yet in doing so we end up limiting ourselves because maybe who you thought you were or wanted to be at 20 will be very different to who you evolve into in your 30s.
We focus on things like having a career that we work towards from our teen or even pre-teen years. We assume that the plans we made 10+ years ago won’t change. And even when they have changed we struggle to let go because it opens us up to changing and exploring ourselves once more. We aren’t always ready for that because there is societal pressure to figure yourself out and settle down.
You’re told that you need to have your life together by a certain age which sometimes leads to you making choices to do things that you don’t even really want to do. And if you get to 30 or 40 and you’re still exploring you’re considered somewhat fringe, unconventional and even looked down on.
But maybe you don’t value the things that other people value. Perhaps you’re very aware of the life that you could or could have lived but you’ve chosen another path that has lead to a deeper exploration of life and self. Something you’d have never had the option to do if you had chosen to give in to expectations of the way that life should be.
Sometimes it helps to take a few steps back and return to the way things were. We often perceive this to be a negative thing as though we have regressed. However, it might actually be the case that the way you used to do things was much better.
So often we search for better or new because we don’t know what’s out there. And so we turn away from what we know and venture out to see what else is on offer. Sometimes we find other great options or ways of doing things but other times we end longing for what once was.
It’s normal to want to explore and try new things but perhaps you’ll ending up finding that the way things were is exactly how you want them to be.
Something really interesting happens when you start spending time alone.
You learn a lot about yourself. You learn what you like to do, how you like to spend your time, what brings you joy, what fulfills you and so much more outside of your relationships with other people.
So often we learn about ourselves in conjunction with other people. ‘My sister and I like to do this, when I’m with my friends I like to do that or my partner and I often do this together’. And it’s not that you don’t enjoy those things or that it’s not the real you but I think it’s important to explore yourself by yourself.
You might discover that there are a whole heap of things that you enjoy doing alone that you never previously had time for because you always prioritised spending time with other people. Or, you might find that you appreciate making time for yourself to spend doing small and simple things like bake, take a walk or read outside in a park.
The familiarity of what you know might be the thing that keeps you from exploring other ideas or options.
Let’s take the example of food.
Imagine you go to a restaurant and order the duck. Now imagine the duck is incredibly delicious and so each time you go back, you order the same thing.
You find yourself sticking with what you know because you know you’ll like it. But there are many other options available to you that are worth exploring. It’s not that you’ll like them more but instead a reminder of the important of taking advantage of what is available. I think sometimes in life we take our options for granted.
As much as there are so many other options available for you to experience, you turn them down because you’d rather play it safe with wat you know than venture out into the unknown.
But what you end up forgetting is that the very thing you’re clinging to because of familiarity was also once unfamiliar, you just got used to it over time.
From a young age it is likely that you were taught to figure out what you wanted to do with your life. That in turn dictated the choices you made and paths you chose for many years that followed.
Sometimes what ends up happening is you end up creating a very specific life where you rarely explore something new.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with knowing what you like and what you’re interested in, you don’t want to be so set in your ways that you’re closed off to the unknown.
Exploring something new every once in a while allows your mind to stay fresh. It could lead you to take a new path or just remind you that you’re exactly where you want to be.
When you feel low or sad about something it can be difficult to know what t do with the feeling. After all you don’t want to feel it, you’d much rather the sadness just left you alone.
But the thing with difficult feelings and feelings in general is that they don’t leave if you don’t allow yourself to feel them.
And then there is the question of how do you feel your feelings.
I don’t think there is a set answer of how but I’ll share what works for me.
Writing is incredibly therapeutic, I do it everyday.
Writing allows you to explore yourself freely and can be used as a tool to express how you feel. If you’re feeling hurt you can write about it. But you can also ask yourself questions like ‘why does this bother me?’ or ‘what would make me feel better right now?’ and then write until you have some kind of answer or at least until your mood has shifted.
So often we cling to the familiarity of what we know. We cling so hard that we’re unable to see any other option as viable.
Even when what we know is no longer working, we resist change because that means we have to learn a new way of doing things and maybe change our perspective.
And so we defend what we know, we say things like ‘that’s just the way things are’ or ‘that’s what I’ve always done’, often full of pride.
But what you’re actually doing is stunting your growth and development, closing yourself off from the opportnuty to explore a different way.
So next time you think something isn’t working, don’t just stick with it, take it as an opportunity to try something new.
It’s easy to stick with what you know especially when it works.
But sometimes it’s good to try something new, explore uncharted territory.
Not just because what you’re used to isn’t working but because there’s is so much out there.
Trying new things help broaden your perspective.
Plus, how can you talk about how great something is when it’s the only thing you’ve tried.
Granted what you already know might turn out to be the best option but it doesn’t mean that alternatives aren’t worth exploring.
Don’t be afraid to try something new.
For many people if they give it some thought they’ll find that a large proportion of their character is based on who they think they are.
Often those opinions are made at a young age without any real judgement. Yet you carry them with you into adulthood without even checking to see if your mind has changed.
It could be something as simple as a food that you don’t eat. Perhaps as a child you weren’t willing to explore with what you ate so you told yourself ‘I’m not the kind of person that eats that kind of food’ or ‘I don’t like to experiment with what I eat, I just like simple food’. Twenty years later you’re still saying the same thing and maybe that’s true but maybe you haven’t changed.
We get so attached to the idea we create of who we think we are that we close ourselves off to anything that challenges that.
The idea of exploring is one I don’t think is valued enough. I don’t mean travelling and exploring new countries or cities, I mean exploring self.
Being able to know your own limits whilst also being able to put yourself out there and experience new things.
It’s so easy to stay within the remit of what you know because there’s comfort in familiarity. However, it’s also worth considering when you don’t venture outside of that you lose the chance to learn about yourself about and understand yourself.
When you give yourself the opportunity to explore life a little more, you might find that you don’t actually believe the things you thought were true.