For the past past few weeks I’ve been meeting a lot of new people and I have been put into several situations where I’ve had to introduce myself and give this sort of “quick spiel” of who I am. Also, I have some upcoming assignments that have been forcing me to really dig deep and look into myself. One major assignment is a personal essay of why I have chosen the career of Human Services, helping people.
A few months ago I had to give a speech that asked just that question: Who am I?
I remember brainstorming about being the middle child of 7 siblings, my cultural background, being an aunt, my job, and blah blah blah, and I landed on basing the speech on my zodiac sign, Leo. I find that I use that to define me a lot. I’m comfortable in finding comparisons between myself and a female lion/ queen, and that starts the basics of how I would describe my personality, actions, determination, and confidence. The truth is, I think that question “who are you?” may just be the most complex question on earth. It’s so vague and so heavy. I asked my best friend what is the most complex question on earth, expecting agreement from him, and he said “if you’re talking to a female it’s what do you want to eat?” LOL. There is some truth there, I’m not gonna lie. After that I asked him “who are you?” and he answered “ I don’t know. Who am I meaning what?”, and that response only proved my point.
I decided to do a four part series, this being part 1, on self discovery and the concept of self defined identity because we’re always discovering ourselves right? We’re such fascinating, diverse, and ever changing creatures that a question like “who are you?” at any given time can have the possibility of so many different answers. The American English Dictionary defines self-discovery as “a becoming aware of one’s true potential, character, motives, etc.” It can also be defined as “the process of acquiring insight into one’s own character”.
Self-discovery means many things. You do not get to know yourself simply by growing up and growing old. Knowing yourself is a conscious effort; you do it with intention and on purpose. It means finding your purpose in life, it means digging deep into your childhood and revealing experiences that shaped you…good and bad. It means realizing what your beliefs are and living by them. The effects of self-discovery include happiness, clarity, fulfillment, and even enlightenment. It can end with you completely changing the course of your life, and starting to follow your true passion and purpose.
The journey however is not always an easy road. The journey includes fear, doubt, confusion, misunderstanding, and literally re-visiting all your choices and experiences in life, including choices that were made FOR you, but ‘whoo’ I’m not gonna go there yet.
The journey starts with basically interrogating yourself.
To begin with, do you know yourself well?
Are you clear about what you want in life?
Do you have a sense of purpose?
What defines you?
What makes you happy?
If you stop to think for a second, you may find that you have answered “no” or “don’t really know” to some of the questions above. Which is fine.
If I were to ask you who you are, what would you say?
Would your answer include your name, sex, or ethnicity?
Would it include your job, relationship status, age, or faith/religion?
Would you include your parental status: “I am a mom, dad, I have no children”?
Would you list character and personality traits? Take a minute to think about it.
Would it be easier to recollect someone’s else perspective or description of you? What about recollecting what your parent’s want you to do or be, which defines your current life? Example: “I’m going to school for nursing, my mom says I will always have a job once I’m in the medical field” Is it easier to recollect your shortcomings and how you’re not the person you want to be right now? In my experience it always seems to easier for people to list things they regret or wish happened, than to state confidence and firm belief in who they are now in this moment.
I’m asking a lot of questions but it’s only because I really want to get you thinking. My biggest goal for this series is to challenge you to dig below the surface. What if the condition of answering the question “who are you?” was that you could not include any of those outside factors I just mentioned. Yes they are a part of you, I’m not taking that away, but what those things are, as I like to call them, are “molders”. Those things have molded you into the person you are. We have many different people in us. There’s you at work, and there’s you in social environments. There’s you with family, and there’s you with friends. Sometimes there’s a different person for different friends!
Then there’s YOU. Underneath it all. In private moments. What is that person like, what do they want out of this life, what do they believe? What is his/her core values?
Up until now, it is very possible that you don’t have a clear idea of who you really are. Self discovery should be an important goal for everyone. It’s only through discovery of self that we can identify our purpose and fully actualize and maximize our potential. Maybe you haven’t spent enough time getting to know yourself. Maybe you’ve been defining yourself by the things mentioned earlier, or the things you do or don’t have.
What are the steps to self discovery? How do you burrow below these things in the picture above and find that true self?
I love sharing outside sources because they give me more insight into topics I find interesting and I know can provide you more insight and follow up on the topics touched in my posts. Today I want to share these posts with you A Journey to Self Discovery, Simple Steps to Self Discovery, and hope it can help you begin your journey or continue to navigate your journey to knowing you, and creating your own identity profile.
To get the most out of this series it’s going to be important to be open, honest, and committed with yourself. Until we meet again next week, I want you to find 15 minutes in your down time to do the following:
Find a quiet place/ time where you won’t be distracted for the time. Take the first 5 minutes to enter a space of relaxation. You can close your eyes and just breath, or meditate, whatever it is that will get your mind clear.
Next, reflect on these three questions:
Who am I? Why am I here? What makes me unique?
I would suggest you speak your answers out loud as they come to you as though you are outside yourself, talking to yourself. Or write it down, which I always prefer by the way, visualization is everything. It doesn’t have to make sense, just whatever consciously comes out, make note of it. Do so for 5 minutes. After a few minutes if you possibly draw a blank and feel like “that’s it”, no. Don’t get uncomfortable by the silence and keep thinking. Now take the final 5 minutes to reflect on how this made you feel, what did it give you insight into? What memories came up? How have these things contributed to who you are today? How much of it can you say is your identity?
Okay, that’s your homework and it’s the first step to clearing the blur and getting down to the real you. The posts I shared also give you other soul searching exercises and thought provoking questions to help you as well.
Until part 2 next week, Safe and fruitful travels down your journey 🙂 Love ya!
“That wonderful and terribly frightening journey of self-discovery. That process of growth, of being an independent person, of learning who you are and what you want from life, is the real secret of life, happiness and beauty.” – Diane Von FurstenBurg