Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Importance of Knowing Yourself

"People will stare. 
Make it worth their while." 

- Harry Winston

Who are you? Why is it important to know, or at least be curious about, your inner workings?

Figuring out all the details about who you are and what you want as a person enable you to walk away from the kind of life where you simply drift by, accepting what happens to you and never taking action. Learning about YOU can lead you on adventures and encourage you to really experience life- and if that's not the point of us being here, what is?

I'm not saying you have one purpose in life, and I don't believe in any traditional concept of fate. But we all have things that speak to us, activities we are called to or actions we feel is it important to take.
Discovering those things and understanding why we are inclined towards certain attitudes or behaviors can help us take more steps towards them and grant us a more fulfilling life.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and we were talking about celebrities, I think, and she said something that struck me. She said, "well, if I had to look like anyone else…" and there was more to the conversation, but I loved the way she said if she had to. She did NOT say how much she wanted to look like anybody else, which told me pretty clearly that she preferred who she was. Most of us would probably say the same if we really understood ourselves, and that is yet another reason to understand who we are- though that conversation was about physical beauty, the idea holds true in most aspects of our lives.

At the end of the day, we admire and respect other people. We may even be jealous of them. But who we truly desire to be is usually a better version of ourselves. We should learn to examine our reactions to other people and learn what that says about ourselves and our desires for our own lives. I'm not saying you have to be 100% satisfied as you are; it's better when you're always striving to improve and learn and grow. In becoming aware of who you are on the most profound level, you find your strengths and weaknesses, you're able to identify what you like about yourself and what you don't, and eventually you are able to create your most personal life.

But I'll admit- it's hard.

It's hard because, quite simply, it's terrifying.

In order to know yourself you have to be totally honest and face both the good and bad about your personality, your lifestyle. A lot of us don't want to admit anything that's not great about ourselves, but admitting these things is what allows us to identify what's causing any less than ideal behaviors/situations and change them. For example, maybe there's a coworker you catch yourself constantly rolling your eyes at because they can't seem to get anything right. Are you perhaps being judgmental because you're afraid of not getting things right yourself? Maybe this can teach you to relax your judgment, perhaps lend a hand. And this is a pretty mild example.

To learn who you really are, you have to dig deep, maybe admit things you don't like about yourself. Hopefully discover the great things you have to offer as well. You have to learn how to stand facing all your scars and stories, all your experiences and the fistfuls of dreams clenched in your fingers, and say YES, I accept this. I accept all of this wildness that is myself, and I embrace it as the unique being that is ME.

Accept that you might have things about yourself that you want to change. Again, this is scary. Change is hard, an embrace of the unknown. Often we can cling to parts of ourselves we don't even like because they've become part of our identity, without us realizing it. Maybe you're always late, and you've just accepted that the cringing feeling you get every time you look at the clock and realize you're ten minutes behind is just part of your life.

But it's not. Again, this is a mild example but proof that there are many small things we can examine and potentially change. If there are things you really want to change about who you are, admit them, and decide to either accept or confront these things. With the lateness example, either stop worrying about it and truly, wholeheartedly decide that you are always going to be a little late and that's just the way of things (and in doing so expend more energy on things that really matter), or put a little extra effort into being more timely.

On the flip side, this is also an opportunity to realize the great talents and skills you have residing within you, to draw them out and develop them like so many rolls of film. Do you excel at making your friends feel better after a bad day? Know this. Embrace it. Welcome how it makes you feel and take pleasure in the smiles on your friends' faces. Are you phenomenal with a sketchpad and some charcoal pencils? Read about drawing, practice daily and start showing people your sketches!

One of the best things about knowing who you are is that you learn when to say yes and when to say no. This sounds simple, but is it? How many times have you said no to an opportunity that terrified you, only to sit around later wishing you had said yes? When have you said yes to something hoping it would help someone else, or benefit you in the long run, and ended up regretting a lot of wasted time and effort?

In order to say a resounding no to the things that aren't right for you and a whole-hearted, ear-splitting YES to the things that do, you have to know the reasons behind your answers, which are best derived from having learned the roots of your decisions and understanding the foundation of your personality.

Knowing yourself means being able to change. To accept that you, like a snake, may shed your skin from time to time. This does not mean you have wasted any time in your old self. After all, your old skin protected you from dirt and held your organs together as you dragged yourself from experience to experience, but now it's worn out and time for a new one.

Change, too might hurt. But it is so, so worth it, so important.

Knowing yourself is necessary. I encourage you to dig to the very bottom of your soul and see what's there. Cast around for what's dark and ugly,and shift these things around so you can extract what's glittering and shining so brightly you can't believe you didn't know it was there. Keep digging and shifting, commit yourself to the grand reorganization of the closet that is your mind until the whole thing is a bright diamond of pure YOU, ready to spill out your edges and into the universe. Learn yourself. Know yourself. And as always, BE yourself to the fullest while embracing your highest potential.

"self" by Laurel Guido / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

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