Updated: Sep 5
To know yourself and be who you are may sound slightly cliche. Most of us probably think we are very obviously ourselves already. Who else would we be? But I've become convinced that very few of us truly know ourselves. The outer influences on all of us are simply too strong and shape us in all sorts of ways that are hard to recognize. When we do meet someone who seems confident in being themselves, we tend to comment on it (sometimes rather disapprovingly), because it's somewhat rare.
If you look back over your life thus far, how many roles have you played? If you're anything like me, you've been very different people at different times in your life. So which ones were you and which ones weren't?
It may not be easy to answer that question. Society has many ideas to share on who we should be, and what the ideal woman or man ought to be. Our families also have their ideas and so do our peers. It may not be so simple to sort out these influences and decide who we were born to be when there have always, from the moment of birth, been forces that mean to weed out parts of us and strengthen others.
We women might like to think of ourselves as very nurturing, for example. Keep in mind that women in our society are expected to be nurturing and to care for those around us. It would be seen as supreme selfishness not to be nurturing, which would make it difficult (if not dangerous) to admit that maybe that just isn't you. It would be practically akin to admitting you are a narcissist, as far as our society is concerned. But does it really make sense that every single women is a born Nurturer? I would say no, just like not every single man is a natural Warrior.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
How do you know what you're naturally suited for? I believe the truth resides in the body. How do you feel when you are called upon to nurture others? Does it come naturally? Do you feel invigorated by it? Or do you feel drained and sucked dry? Do you get physical symptoms if you have to nurture others for any length of time? More importantly, could you admit to not being particularly nurturing, thereby going against the grain of society's expectations and opening yourself to judgment? This is why truth is never as neat and clean as one might hope, but without truth we can get nowhere.
We often see ourselves unclearly because we subconsciously want to fit in, to be accepted and meet expectations. Or at least, we don't want to be actively judged or rejected or ridiculed. But if we're honest, many of us know we've done all sorts of things we were not well-suited for because there was some societal imperative at work, or to please others. It's crucial to recognize when you're doing something that you want to do and are skilled at versus when you're conforming to expectations.
If you want to be happy and at peace with yourself, you must take the messages of those around you with a massive grain of salt because they are under the societal spell, as well as having their own personal agendas for you. Check in with yourself and follow your own inner leading. The consequences of not doing so can result in a myriad of regrets, like an unfulfilling career, bad relationship, wasted money on inappropriate school training, or a host of things left untried. If you don't know who you are, you won't know what you really want or what your purpose is.
This is why self-exploration is so incredibly important. As is getting into your body. If you disconnect from how things make you feel, you'll never pick up on the cues your body is sending, the truth it is trying to deliver. This is why yoga and meditation are so beneficial. If you connect with the body or sit in silence long enough, you'll begin to know what you actually believe. And that is worth knowing. Somewhere in there, you know who you are. Connect with that truth and all becomes clear.
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