It sounds rhetorical, but it’s still a question that we should sometimes ask ourselves. After all, each of us has an idea of the person we want to be when we grow up, so it’s only fitting that we ask ourselves from time to time, “who am I?”
Many people, myself included, would often wonder the same thing. How is it that despite living our lives up to this point, we’re still at a loss for words whenever someone asks us to give a short introduction of ourselves? Surely no one would know us better than ourselves, right?
Well, the short and paradoxical answer to that is no. Sure, we’re aware of the basics, such as our hobbies, interests, and dietary preferences, but what about the deeper aspects of our life? What about our character traits, personality, moral standards, among other things? More importantly, how do we find that out?
This is sometimes the reason why people take “breaks” from life. It could range from a student taking a gap year to reconsider their options, to an overworked employee taking unpaid leave to figure out if they are where they should be at.
However, the deeper reason behind those breaks is because they reached a point of dissonance, and require more time and new experiences to figure out more about themselves and the future path they have to take.
Everyone will eventually reach that point, which is when your values or beliefs will be put to the test. These should never be compromised, as they define who you are. However, should you find yourself in a tight spot, learn to forgive yourself and move forward, ensuring that you never put yourself in that position again.
This usually happens when we enter a new stage of life, and the impact it has on our lives depends on the severity of the dissonance. During such periods we usually have expectations of how we will react to a new environment, and if our actual behaviour doesn't match our expectations, we tend to be at a loss. Hence, it inspires us to take a step back in an attempt to discover more about ourselves in a variety of measures.
For instance, most of us would already be aware of our personality from our experience interacting with others (such as how introverted or extroverted we are), and we can use this as a gauge to determine more about ourselves. By analysing our behaviour in as objective a manner as possible, we can discover more about ourselves that may have flown under the radar this whole time.
We can also set goals for ourselves to document our growth into the person we want to be. It can be as simple as telling yourself to stop procrastinating so you’ll accomplish more in a day, to conditioning yourself to take the initiative, and improving your leadership qualities. Change always starts from within, so it’s important to know what you want to improve on before making that change.
Sometimes, it helps to condense your identity into a few simple lines or traits to guide you along that path (such as being “fun-loving and cheerful”) to ensure that you’re on the right track and staying true to yourself. As a bonus, it also helps when you’re asked to introduce yourself in the future, as you would already have the answer ready on the tip of your tongue.
Additionally, having some “me time” to relax and think about our progress is also important as it helps us to evaluate whether we’ve developed into the person we aimed to be. Simply put, if you look back now, would the old you be proud of who you’ve become? If not, how can you improve on that?
But then, how do we know for sure if that’s who we really are? Well, sometimes we simply do not; we’ll never really know for sure. We’re constantly changing and evolving, so who we are today might be different from who we are next week or next month. However, even knowing who you are today and being sure of your self-image is probably enough to give you a sense of satisfaction.
In the end, I hope that this article has helped you on your journey to discover your “self”. Hence, the next time you look in the mirror, you should know exactly who it is staring back at you, and hopefully, it’s someone you’re satisfied with.