The concept of finding yourself is an interesting one. It is referred to in many 90s films and often depicted by a woman who is exasperated with her love life. She makes a journey (usually to somewhere tropical e.g. Eat, Pray, Love) in order to ‘find herself’. Even most Disney films are a journey of self-discovery, Mulan, Moana, Finding Dory… Personally, I find this the phrase ‘find yourself’ quite ambiguous and maybe a bit misleading. Because it implies the first step is to simply ‘find’. Often we don’t even know, that what we are looking or even lost in the first place. It takes an awful lot of introspection to realize the first Step in ‘finding yourself’.
Step 1: Realising that you are Lost.
Introspection is not an easy task and might not come naturally to a lot of people. To reflect on one’s own actions, thoughts, and feelings. This is all to better understand Why we do certain things and feel certain emotions. To examine our own mental and emotional processes and realize that ‘I am not okay, I am not happy, I am Lost’. It is only in realizing you are lost, that you can truly begin to find who you are. As a human being, we have many emotions or feelings. Sometimes the feeling of being Lost or looking, can be displaced by romantic worries. Wanting to “find someone” or find happiness through meeting a significant romantic partner. So many times I felt lost but never understood I was just that: Lost. I was searching for something specific, a feeling, a person, a safe space, comfort? I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. People, relationships and money couldn’t fill It. I only recently reached this specific answer: that whatever I was searching for, was within me. Everything I have ever needed is within myself. I think this is a beautiful realization and a destination I wish I had arrived to sooner.
Step 2: Understand what feelings, emotions, and reasons resonate the most with feeling Lost.
So this bit is a bit more complicated. It is one thing to realize you are lost, and another aspect entirely to understand WHY you are Lost. I myself felt and even currently feel, lost for a number of reasons. I am not where I thought I would be in life. I gave up a dream I had for so long, a passion that was in with me, and by giving that up I have become confused/unsure of who I am. I do not know who I want or am meant to be. I had a passion, was so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I couldn’t imagine myself not fulfilling it. It is hard to recover from a feeling so intense, much like love, it never entirely leaves you. So by abandoning the dream, I felt I had abandoned who I could be and who I had pictured myself being for so long. There can be many reasons for feeling Lost. Independent of time, age or status. Everyone’s journey is different and the path to understanding yourself can be treacherous. However, in the words of Miley Cyrus ‘Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb’
Step 3: Understand who you are and who you want to be
I’ve wanted to be and do so many things in my life. There is nothing stopping me from doing those things. However, without understanding who I am as a person, what I am capable of and what passion drives me to achieve certain things, I will continue to feel lost. Identifying goals and steps to accomplish your goals however small they may be, fills you with a sense of pride, reassurance, and confidence. You are proud of what you are achieving, each step will reassure you of the direction you are going in and you will have confidence that you are actually making moves towards becoming the person you desperately would like to be.
Step 4: Clear any distractions that will confuse you.
I don’t just mean men, women, people. I mean any distractions that clutter and take up space that could be spent taking time to understand yourself better. Time is precious and We never really know how much time we really have left. Life is unpredictable. There is a reason why one of the 5 love languages is time. Because it is valuable. The time you invest in others, be it family, friends or lovers, could be precious time invested in you, your aspirations or hobbies. Yes, these are important people, however, if they are adding confusion rather than comfort, maybe it’s better to subtract certain people that are convoluting the equation. The equation is a whole you.
Step 5: Enjoy the process.
Finding yourself should not be painful, though sometimes it does involve unpeeling layers. Much like an onion, this might make you cry. A hurtful journey, memories that you may not have healed from just yet. However, finding yourself if about you and your future. The past can affect you, yes. BUT it is important that it does not define who you are. I have had a painful history, but many others have had it worse. I will not let my past experience shape who I am destined to be. The people who have hurt me, I will not allow them to continue to do so. They will not walk in my head rent free. You (whoever is reading this) and I have so many years ahead of us to enjoy life, to live, laugh and finding yourself is a more than a journey. It is a way of life, and I don’t think it ever truly ends.
I have been in a lost state for many years now, without ever knowing it. Allowing people romantic or otherwise, to distract me from understanding who I was and how I felt about myself. Validation fooled me into thinking I was okay, and my life was moving in the direction of someone who didn’t know where she was or where she was going (literally and figuratively). Too caught up in past grievances and emotions to see I was repeating the same foolish mistakes. I currently still might be. The one massive difference now is the epiphany. A certain self-awareness of not knowing who I am and that I have been allowing others to mold and shape me. I should be molding the experience of this world like clay dough, crafting something beautiful and unique to only me.
I have starved myself of self-love and it’s easy to do. Life becomes distracting, people are demanding and love can be demeaning. However, just because you’ve lost yourself doesn’t mean you’ll never be found again. What’s important is that the person you find, you love.
From the UCB word of the day:
‘Let God replant you’
A farmer’s fruit tree consistently produced bumper crops and became a real money-maker for him, so he put all his efforts into marketing and never noticed that the tree was dying. Then one day he woke up and realized the root had dried up. He’d been so focused on the fruit that he neglected the root. How about you? Are you focusing on numbers and outcomes, or are you focusing on the purpose, people, innovation, culture, and the root of your success? Nurture the root and you’ll always have fruit. Ignore the root – say goodbye to the fruit! One author writes: ‘Like a plant constrained in the same pot, our roots become bound and twisted. Over time we’re unable to be fully nourished. We can’t grow beyond the limits of our environment. In the words of Scripture, we become “like a garden locked up…a walled-in spring, a closed-up fountain”. But God sees the person inside…the one with the potential to become everything He created you to be. He sees the impending bloom of the locked garden, the refreshment of the innerspring, and the sound of the running fountain. He knows you’re inhibited and closed, and He wants to set you free. Some hardships like death and divorce cause necessary replanting…an opportunity to establish deeper roots and realize our potential in a new container. Ask God to replant you…to gently remove you, free you from captivity, and find the perfect place for you to grow. Let Him nourish your roots so they extend into the rich soil of newfound freedom.’