We’re constantly in a state of trying to find ourselves. In order to become who you’re meant to be, you need to know yourself first. It’s a myth I was telling myself and believed for years and it held me back.
We think that once we find ourselves, we’ll figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives.
But life doesn’t work that way.
Knowing ourselves or “finding” ourselves doesn’t always mean we’ll know what to do with that information afterwards. It’s why we often fall back into old habits, old jobs, and our “old” identity once we’ve “found” ourselves.
Finding ourselves isn’t the real challenge. We already know who we are, where our priorities lie, our talents, strengths and weaknesses.
We’ve always known who we are.
We just don’t like the person we’ve become.
If that’s the case, then our main goal in life shouldn’t be to know ourselves, it’s to become better than who we currently are.
As Michel Foucault said,
“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.”
The self is multi-faceted and unstable at best
Our sense of self is constantly changing. It is multi-faceted and dynamic at the best of times.
The concept of “self” has been theorized for centuries by the world’s best-known philosophers.
From Aristotle, Plato, to Hume. There is no definitive definition of self that we can all abide by or agree on.
As our circumstances change, so does our sense of self, our identity. As Hume would argue, the self is a bundle of our life experiences and perceptions, and in essence, the self is forever changing and always evolving.
And I tend to agree.
If we believe that we are the same person we were 5 or 10 years ago, it means we’ve been stagnant for the last 5 to 10 years.
And that is rarely the case of humans.
We’re supposed to.
Human beings are not supposed to remain stagnant. Our goal in life and in work is to move forward and grow into a better and even into a different version of ourselves than what we started with.
Our experiences and thoughts are always changing thus so is our identity.
Don’t forget but forgive past experiences
There is a huge misconception that we can’t move ahead with our lives without first dealing with the past.
We often try to deep dive into our past to figure out who we are. After all, our beliefs about ourselves and about the world stem from the past and the foundation for our identity and our sense of self are derived through our interpretation of those past experiences. They form our beliefs and our values, which are the guiding lights to our past, present and future actions.
However, when we embark on the journey to find ourselves, we often end up moving backwards, at least temporarily.
We deep dive into our past, leave everything we currently have behind, try to figure who we are and how we got to where we are today.
Does it really matter how we got to where we are today?
Yes, those past experiences made us who we are now but the past cannot be changed. The laws of the universe won’t allow it. Instead we can only learn from the past and apply those lessons to the person we are now…and move forward.
The past can never be forgotten but they can be forgiven. Forgiven so we can move forward, to grow, to learn, and to be the person that we’re not today.
You don’t need to know yourself to create a new you
When we’re finding ourselves and we tell people we’re trying to find ourselves, it may sound like we’re on a spiritual journey. One that we feel we should be proud of. However, embarking on a journey to find ourselves means we’re lost and too scared to take our life into our own hands.
So scared that we end up quitting our present life.
We quit our jobs, we give up our material belongings, sell our house and even leave our families and friends to “find ourselves”.
What we’re afraid to admit is that we’re scared and lost.
Scared to be accountable for our past.
Afraid to give up our beliefs and assumptions about ourselves and the world.
Scared to admit who we’ve become.
Fearful of change and what may lay ahead.
Lost in a sea of our forgotten potential.
George Bernard Shaw says,
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
The truth for many poor souls is that they already know who they are and the person they want to be. They’re simply too afraid of what it will take to become that person.
Because creating ourselves into someone different and better is hard work. Work that many of us are not willing to put in.
So, they remain exactly as they are, never growing, never learning.
Life is not about being stagnant or complacent. It’s also not about finding ourselves or figuring out who we are.
Why do we need to find ourselves when we’re already here?
The challenge in life is not knowing who we are or even knowing what we want to become. The real challenge in life is to become better than we were yesterday.