How exactly does one discover themselves?
Through exploration, experimentation and being open to the unknown.
If you live your life in the box of what you know, you may think that you know yourself. But actually, there is so much more of you to explore outside of that box.
As much as there is ‘the me I know’ inside of the box, there is also ‘the me I don’t know’ outside of it.
Granted you can’t experience every single thing in life but you can try things that are outside of your usual routine.
It can be big or it can be small.
- Visiting a new city
- Joining a group or class
- Doing the thing you’ve always thought about doing but kept putting off
- Going for a walk
You might think you know yourself or that you’re content with your life. But when you do a journal prompt like ‘Describe your dream life’ you might find you’re nowhere near where you want to be. Maybe you settled for an unfulfilling ‘stable’ job and you never even took the time to figure out what you truly wanted to do for a living.
“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, talking helps.
When used correctly it’s an excellent tool for self exploration where you can walk away from conversations and gain insight into aspects of yourself you hadn’t yet uncovered.
The beauty of it is that you don’t have to even need talking about the thing. However, you do have to be open and vulnerable to allow things to rise to the surface.
Yes, it might feel scary or uncomfortable but you don’t have to hold onto those feelings.
Do it, because you believe that by exploring your mind it’ll help you figure some things out and that might lead to a breakthrough.
Just as ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ is the same way you’re not you when you’re worried.
A person that worries chronically may end up having sleep problems, self-harming and developing fidget habits like pulling at their hair.
Those kinds of behaviours often end up overshadowing a persons core self and then others fall into thinking that those things are who they are.
But when you remove worry from the equation you feel a sense of freedom. You have room to maneuver, you have room to be.
You’ll feel like a whole new you and begin experience life in a way that is so far from what you’re familiar with.
Life will feel easier or at least much more manageable but it’s not that you’ll never worry again. It’s that the worry will come and pass like the flow of water rather than being something that stays with you long term and ends up being debilitating and reducing your quality of life.
If you have a worry habit, the idea of being without it probably sounds like bliss (with a hint of fear because you’re so familiar with worrying it seems strange to think about being without it.
It might be hard to believe but it is possible to significantly reduce worry and not have it as such a dominant part of your identity, you just have to figure out how.
For about a decade I’ve written almost daily and in the past 7 months I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t written.
But I recently started to wonder if I should stop writing. Not altogether but to simply take a break. I’m not sure what the benefits would be but it would definitely be a challenge.
Writing is embedded in me, it’s part of who I am. It’s the thing I do when I’m bored, inspired, overwhelmed, thinking, planning or looking to capture a moment or feeling.
I suppose like with any creative thing it’s good to take breaks and refresh your mind. Or even try creating in a new medium, painting for example.
How strange it would feel to pick up a brush instead of pen. It would be like flexing a new muscle or an old one in a new way.
But perhaps in that space of strangeness, newness and unfamiliarity there’s something worth exploring.
Focus on doing things that are helpful and try not to get distracted by the seemingly significant things that are also known as stuff.
If 764 people read this post, I might come to the conclusion that I should write ‘Reasons to…’ posts more or that this length or writing style is the winning combo.
But in doing that I wouldn’t be giving myself the freedom to explore and develop as a writer. At the crux of it when you have a passion for something it will never just be about the numbers. It’ll always be more about the feeling, something you can’t measure.
When you’re in-flow and the words pour out with an almost trance like ease it might not be the most popular piece of work you’ve created but it took something for you to create it.
Even if you find a formulas that works you still have to innovate to some degree and after a while you might get bored because you’re no longer just being creative.
The use of a formula adds rigidity and constraints.
Checking the stats could also be done for reassurance that there’s at least one persons on planet earth reading what you’ve written and there’s nothing wrong with that because nobody puts stuff out there for it to go unread.
You might find a way to convince yourself that checking the stats will make you as better writer when the truth is writing will make you a better writer. The stats are just a distraction.
Who are you when you visit new places alone?
Who are you when you deliver a presentation?
Who are you when you’re under pressure with a deadline looming?
I think it’s important to go out and explore these things as a way to explore yourself. Sometimes mediation helps, looking inwards is great but don’t get so caught in those internal things that you don’t actually take action.
You don’t want to spend your life wondering about certain aspects of yourself that you never allowed yourself to experience.
Don’t spend so much time trying to figure yourself out and. Pondering and ruminating on where you fit in and the kind of person that you are.
Give yourself some credit and remember that you aren’t so simple that you fit into a neat box or that you’re easy to label.
You’re complex and ever-evolving.
There is comfort in being able to say I’m this kind of person and this is what I like . But often when we do that we don’t give ourselves room to grow. The last thing you want is is to end up boxed into limitations of your own making.
Go out and explore yourself, what does it mean to be you? It might be strange and beautiful but that’s okay.
You might find that you’re a juxtaposition of messy and particular, simple and complex, a painter and a scientist, there’s endless possibilities and it would be a shame to never find out.
According to the dictionary app on my phone self-discovery is ‘The learning of what kind of person one really is, or what one really wants to do with ones life’.
I think that is something worth pursuing.