I have heard so many people around me say something along these lines, “I am going to travel the world so I can find myself” or “I don’t know what I want to do, I am still finding myself”. There are so many articles out there giving advice to people in their twenties on how to find themselves. Travel alone to a faraway place, take a gap year, explore different things, meet new people and the list goes on.
We overemphasise on the process of finding ourselves because we believe that once we actually do, we will be happy and contented. We will wake up each day doing the things we love. We will be fulfilled at our careers. We will be in a state of comfort and stability. Right now, things are not working out because we have not found ourselves.
I hate to sound so harsh, but honestly, I feel that all of this is crap.
Before you think I am being mean or am out to rebel against the norm, please hear me out first.
I am always a fan of social psychology because I believe that people understand themselves and others best through social interaction.
I mean, how do you know how you would react when you are angry unless someone pisses you off and you find yourself either screaming back at that person or blocking out that person to cool off?
How do you know if you prefer hanging out with one or two friends instead of a big crowd unless you experience them both and know which one you enjoy better?
Through our daily interaction with others, that is how we get to learn more about ourselves. After different scenarios we are put in, we get to reflect on how we reacted and understand ourselves better. They even have a term for it. It’s called Introspection.
So if social interactions can help you find yourself better, what makes many of us think that escaping from everyone and everything is going to help? Even if you say you choose to interact with new people or escape from your everyday lives to meet more people, that way you are only experiencing the surface of yourself. How are you going to really understand yourself unless you go through your routine, interacting with people around you? Because only then you get to see how you react in these typical social interactions. That way, you get to see your true self.
It is a journey, not a destination
People like to see “finding themselves” as a destination. Do step 1 2 3, and there you go. You have found yourself and you are going to be happy. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Understanding ourselves is a life-long journey. As much as we hate to admit, we change as we grow. From your preference of music to your opinions about politics, you will change your perception over time. It is not something bad. Is just that we need to see that we are always evolving.
As tempting as an escape from our daily lives may sound, it is only a break from the routine. It will not help us understand ourselves better. By living the routine, going through the daily grind, that is how we get to find ourselves.
Actually committing to a job makes you learn if the work is what you enjoy or not. It makes you learn how you react with difficult customers. It makes you understand your working style. It makes you find where you belong through experimentations.
Being with your friends and family members, even the ones you do not really like, helps you to broaden your mind and understand why you hold on to your beliefs and principles. It makes you realise the kind of people you click best with.
Going through the hustle and bustle of your routine helps you to grow and expand your skills. It makes you learn how to appreciate your time alone and understand how you function when you undergo stress and crisis.
Hence, I am a strong believer that you learn most about yourself in the ordinary. From the people around you to the job you are working, and to the ups and downs of the everyday routine, that is how you get to understand yourself most.
“Life is about creating yourself, not finding yourself”
I came across this quote by George Bernard Shaw and found it to resonate best with my thoughts on the self. As much as we want to learn and understand who we actually are, to know our core self, I believe that we should focus more on creation rather than mere finding.
Our self is ever-changing and flexible, and it is highly dependent on the people and the environment around us. I find it comforting that there is no one true self we need to find in order to be happy. But rather, we should learn and understand ourselves for self-acceptance, and at the same time, create ourselves to be the best version we dream to become.
Our self is not pre-determined entirely. We have our whole lives to create, craft and fine-tune ourselves to be the person we want to become. We do not need to find ourselves to be happy. We just need to accept the things we are, and work towards the person we aspire to be.
Just some final words to end this post.
We do not need to travel the world or do something extraordinary in order to find ourselves. We understand ourselves through the everyday routine and interactions with people around us. We take some time to evaluate and reflect on them as we go on our daily lives. We just need to be more aware of the things we say, do and think and take some time for quiet introspection.
But as you are learning about yourself, don’t be too hard and critical. Regard your strengths and feel good about it. Accept your weakness and flaws and work on them. You can still continuously create yourself and work towards a better person each day.
All the best in your journey.
I would love to hear from you. Share your thoughts or journey on discovering yourself by emailing me at email@example.com or contact me and we will talk more.