Sometimes in life you can be so set on knowing yourself and figuring out who you are that you don’t leave room for flexibility.
I think it’s important to find the balance between knowing yourself, whilst still remaining open to new things.
You don’t want to end up being rigid.
However, the reason we close ourselves off to new things is because it can take a lot of effort to change.
Your thoughts, opinions, beliefs and world view took a long time to develop and become what they are today. Being open to new information that could change any of that can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. Or maybe it feels like a threat to your sense of self.
Suddenly, the things you aspired to, cared about and believed in are different. It’s almost like you’ve become someone new, which is not a bad thing. However, the hard part can come from showing up as a changed person and letting go of your old self.
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.
If something is bothering you, don’t ignore it. Say it now.
Of course there may be times when you need to process and check in with yourself to ensure you’re not making a mountain out of a molehill but that won’t always be necessary.
Often, the reason we ignore things and don’t speak up in the moment is because we don’t want to rock the boat, we’re afraid of what the outcome will be, we’re worried about coming across as confrontational and sometimes we fear we’ll be dismissed.
It sometimes feels easier to say nothing and push the feeling aside. But then time goes by and that feeling grows and often ends up bothering you more than it did initially.
Putting things off also tends to cause anxiety and tension in your body as you’re quite literally holding onto you’re words.
And when you finally do decide to say something you’re reaction is totally out of proportion.
There’s not much use in putting it off, you might as well just say it now and get it over with.
We can be so quick to find ourselves and figure ourselves out that we end up taking on traits, roles and habits to help us feel less lost.
We then close ourselves off to experimentation and new ideas, it’s too risky.
In turn this leads to you becoming a person that isn’t really you, it’s just the person you’re pretending to be. You either commit to being that person for the rest of your life or you reach a point where you choose to change.
When you truly realise that the person you’ve been showing up as is not only not the ‘real’ you but also not the person you want to be, it allows all that is not you to fall away.
This then opens you up to you, stripped back with nothing to prove.
It’s so interesting that often in different types of relationships we hold back instead from just being ourselves and allowing things to work out the way they’re meant to be.
You make a conscious effort to be less of yourself instead of just modelling what you want from your relationships. This choice leaves you feeling unfulfilled. You may end up finding yourselves in spaces you don’t want to be in, sometimes even with people you don’t really like because you have sacrificed your true self.
I think sometimes we’re scared to be ourselves for fear of rejection and so we wait for others to go first and be open. But if you find yourself in a space where you think you’ll be rejected for simply being yourself, then deep down (or maybe even just beneath the surface), you know that you’re somewhere you don’t really want to be.
Perhaps you want people in your life that you can be vulnerable with, yet when you have the opportunity to open up you choose to resist. And if the people around you aren’t being vulnerable with you, you end up feeling frustrated. But I think it’s fair to ask yourself, if you’re not willing to open up why should anyone else?
And in the grander scheme, if you aren’t willing to show up as your truest self in your relationships, why should you expect anyone else will?
When you’re so used to following the rules and simply doing things the way they’re ‘meant to be’ done, it can be almost impossible to find your own flow.
The way things are is a great starting point but if weeks, months or years later you find that things aren’t working for you, then why not be open to change?
The idea that we should stay stagnant, simply because we’re too afraid to carve out our own path or stray from what we know, is the beginning of a life of limitations.
Being open to new ways of doing things leaves you open to innovation. It’s not about your way being better than than old way. But perhaps you will find something different that works better for you, it doesn’t need to be for everyone.
When you know what you want it’s easy to end up being closed off to all else. After all, you don’t want to get swept up in something that will veer you off path.
But as much as it’s important to know what you want, it’s also important to allow some room for flexibility. Often the things we want come packaged differently to how we expect.
And so if you’re too rigid, you might end up missing out on the very thing you’ve been striving for.
There is a time to be open and there is a time to be less open.
It’s important to choose wisely.
Being open with people can be a great way to create understanding and build a connection. But it should also be appropriate to the situation. The openness required to create understanding with a romantic partner and a manager are very different.
Plus, the level of openness is also affected by the boundaries in place by others and also ourselves.
If a client asks how you’re weekend was the boundaries you have in place will ensure the openness is fairly restrictive. But if a friend asked you’re more likely to go into significantly greater detail and divulge information that you may not share with anyone else.
These thoughts about openness and boundaries are nothing new or revolutionary but I do think it’s interesting to think about. It gets even more interesting when you observe the way openness decreases and increases as relationships change. Perhaps as a colleague becomes a manager or a friend becomes a romantic partner.
I just googled not being able to voice your needs and there were about 1,220,000,000 results.
Being able to voice your needs is an important part of life. If you can’t say what you need, you probably won’t get it.
If you’ve ever been that person you might have been lucky enough to find someone that gets you. Not in any romantic sense but just someone that understands you even when you’re not able to find the words. That kind of person comes into your life through you being open and vulnerable enough to voice your needs.
It could be as simple as letting someone know that you need space, at first the person might be surprised or not take it well. But over time a good friend or someone that cares about you will understand that at certain times you need to be alone. And it won’t become an issue, they won’t try and make you feel bad or tell you that you have to have to talk now. They will listen and respect your needs.
On the flipside, people that aren’t able to voice their needs might end up falling into feeling misunderstood or uncared for and then carrying that feeling around them everywhere they go. But more often than not, that feeling isn’t true at all. It only feels true because you’re not saying what you need.
If someone asked you why you didn’t achive a particular goal it’s likely that not having the opportunitiy would be one of your reasons.
When you’re far from where you want to be it can be difficult to realise that you are capable of making things happen. And it’s not that you’re in control of everything but more that you don’t have to rely on external things all the time.
You can create your own opportunities.
I think that statement has been true for a long time but with Instagram, Youtube, Podcasts and really just the internet in general, that has chnaged.
The person that wanted to be a talk show host can gather a few friends and put something together for YouTube or the person who wants to be a stylist can share images of their work on Instagram.
But opportunities can be created offline too in your everyday life. They might not be so obvious but they’re there. Often it is just a case of being open enough.