The myth of finding yourself
You decide to break your routine, say go backpacking or volunteer. Suddenly, everyone assumes that you need, or are trying, to find yourself. They give you their most heartfelt encouragements to ‘go find yourself’. However, it feels somewhat offensive! What’s this big deal about finding yourself?I have been seriously baffled by this concept. It not only implies that you are somehow emotionally lost, but it also gives the impression that there is a point where, voila, you discover who you are and therefore stop becoming an even better person.
These are my current thoughts on the subject. Please do feel free to challenge them.
We are a work-in progress. The self is not mysteriously hidden at the top of a mountain or at the end of your gap year. At no point during our lifetime, do we stop morphing. We are perpetually changing because our experiences are. And in the process, they are slowly moulding us into a different person. So how can we find ourselves if there is not just one self for each of us to find?
I am a firm believer in constantly discovering who you are. And I think that just like any other journey you make mistakes, learn and discover. And there is beauty in this. Be it a new job, an addition to the family, the loss of a loved one, sickness or a stressful situation at work, we are persistently stretched and squeezed to points we did not believe possible.
Nowadays, there has been a lot of emphasis on travelling as a means of getting in touch with your inner self. As a keen traveller myself, I totally get why; you are constantly put in the arena not knowing what you are going to face. However, I think it would be unfair to say that this is the way to do it. You do not need to travel far to reflect about your life and your decisions. Seriously, it is when I am watching the sun set back home that I think about my life, not when I am struggling under the weight of my rucksack or testing all possible positions in order to get some sleep on a plane! If you do not want the stress of backpacking, don’t! If you find thrill in living on the go or want give it a try, do! There is not one path. There is not the right path. There is the path you choose and the path you make the best of. A married life with a 9 to 5 job can fire you with enthusiasm as much as a nomadic one can.
Whichever your lifestyle, the problem, in my honest opinion, is settling into a life where we do not provoke our thoughts nor challenge our choices. It is us, who have the power to change what we do not like and to keep on trying to improve who we are day by day.
Every so often, I look back at who I was and my outlook on life at different stages of my life so as to put my current self into perspective and keep on track with the becoming-a-better-person project. There was a time where this, just like when reading an old diary, would make me cringe. However, now I am proud of the change I see, because more than anything else it signifies self-development and, at least, an intention to grow as a self-assured, emotionally-stable individual.
Finding yourself is overrated. Being present in your own life is not.
Author: Stella Arthur
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” - Oscar Wilde
"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." - Heraclitus