Becoming who you are is a life-long process. Half the issue so many people have with understanding themselves is that they think who they are is a definitive, rather than an evolving idea. Because that's all it is at the end of the day: an idea of what's happening. It's up for your interpretation. It's measured by your own standards. There will be a few core ideas you have about yourself that will prove to be very true. There will be a million others that you'll look back on and laugh hysterically.
We like to think of how we are because we hope that's how it is. To not have any sense of self is to feel as though you're constantly navigating a field of complete uncertainty: without purpose, without plan, without laurels to feel affirmed by. You can't not have an idea of who you are, and at the same time, you can't get too attached to the temporary idea of who that is, either.
Confusing, right? Well, that's why so many people struggle with it. The real work of it all is being able to wake up each day and ask yourself: who do I genuinely feel like today? What do I want to do? What do I desire? Over time, you'll see that the same few, core facts remain, and everything else ebbs and flows.
The point is not to get too attached to what these things "mean" about you. You never stop evolving, you can only get stuck in one idea you had of yourself. That's why you'll feel resistance and discomfort. Not because you don't understand your current truth, but because you refuse to acknowledge it. Here, eight ways to connect to your innermost self and be a little more true to it each day.
Stop Pretending You're Under A Spotlight
Unless you're Kim K, the truth is that few people (if any) actually have any stake or concern with exactly what you're wearing or the barely-visible tear in your stocking or whether or not you tripped a little on the sidewalk or whether or not your life is "going as well as it could be." If you're walking around as though everybody is noticing you, it's usually a good indication that you're actually not noticing you — not in the way that matters.
Ask Yourself: "Do I Like This, Or Does Someone I Want To Earn Love From Like This?"
It sometimes seems impossible to differentiate the two, but that's only because we often adopt the opinions of our loved ones' (and the people whose love want to replace ours) as our own.
Define Yourself Without Relation To Other People
If you are not your job, you are not your relationship or your role to someone else, who are you then? To not consider this is to not consider who you really are, because jobs end, and relationships come and go, and yet, you remain? What is your truth if not in relation to other people you need to "be something" for?
Practice Asking Yourself How You Feel Honestly
Our true feelings often get pushed to the side in favor of what's more appeasing or what someone else wants to hear. Write down at varying intervals during the day what's going on in your life, how you think you feel (or how you're telling someone you feel) and then how you actually feel. When you read back through the log, you'll either feel at peace or infuriated or both: either way, you'll have some truth to work with.
Tell People What You Really Think
Too many times, we associate the idea of being honest with being rude, or unkind. That doesn't have to be the case. You don't have to end a relationship over your honest opinion, and if your disagreement with some statement starts tension, it means you have to re-evaluate the friendship or relationship, not your opinion.
Always Maintain Your Truth — Even If You Can't Express It To Others
Even if it's not polite or necessary for you to communicate how you're feeling about [some random arbitrary thing] don't lose sight of your truth. Your opinion is not only real when it's expressed to someone else.
Regather The Dreams You Thought You Lost
That sounds abstract, but hear me out: every loss you've had, every relationship or "failure" that's seemed to rob you of a sense of self (or your idea of what you thought would become of your life) was not the world taking away from you the potential to live it out. Those dreams still exist within you. You projected what you wanted in a person on that one relationship you happened to have, you (wrongly) assumed your dream life could only play out in one certain apartment, and so on. Let go of the set, focus on the script. You still have it, it's a matter of whether or not you're going to let it go on.
Learn To Express How You Feel In A Constructive Way
I'm not trying to police how you express yourself, I am simply speaking to the fact that most people suppress how they really feel because they don't want to create tension (see above). If you can figure out how to communicate your needs, your wants, your feelings, your fears in a way that communicates with people effectively, not just creates unnecessary drama for no reason (or, perhaps, a very good reason, one that you'll never get around to addressing if you can't communicate what it is in the first place).