Here’s the truth. I care so much more about being myself than I do about feeling the shame that occurs if my individuality rubs off the wrong way on another person. You be you, and I’ll be me. I know that I cannot and will not impress everyone, and I’m so happy to finally be at peace with this. But, how does a person get to the point when she knows herself well enough to figure out how to feel comfortable in your her own shoes?
Pay Attention to Your Gut
We’re all so influenced by the world around us. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard the same messages from your parents and peers over and over again or you’re bombarded with brand advertising and messaging about what the most-recent hottest celebrity is doing nowadays, what you’re surrounded by has the power to influence who you become.
But, you still have control over it. To develop your own sense of self, you need to weigh the influence all these messages have over you.
So, trust yourself. What sits right with you? What feels “off”? When you honor your intuition and adjust your surroundings so that you’re spending more time feeling good and less time feeling uncomfortable, you’ll grow to care less about your outside circumstances, because you’re better available to feel confidence in yourself without the sway of those external circumstances.
Knowing yourself takes time. And, when I was in my twenties, and even teens, I didn’t want to wait to figure it out. I was ready to grow up and be confident and happy and own my personality, but it seemed as if everything set me back in some small way. One time it would be a breakup, another it would be a big move. Who am I? I wondered constantly. Everyone seemed to have it all figured out, yet I felt like I was floundering.
Here’s the truth. Everyone else was just as confused as I was. They just didn’t let on that they were.
As you age, you begin to know yourself better and better. And, this isn’t simply because you’ve circled the sun another time, it’s because you’ve accumulated more experiences than in the past, and those experiences molded the way you think, feel, and experience the world around you.
Surround Yourself With the Right People
My son is starting middle school this year. Now, I’ve been there. Middle school is the absolute worst. Between hormones and a peek into a life of independence, these years can be difficult to get through. Then, once you’re through, you experience a rebirth again for high school, college, careers, and any other transitions that can challenge you to the core.
I try to think about what I’ll say to him when he stuggles with his identity in the next three years. There’s no perfect advice to give, but I’ve found the best way to be myself—and not care in any way what others think of me— is to surround myself with a good, diverse, and kind group of friends.
Now, by all means, I don’t think I’ll be the same person at 40, 50, or 60 as I am today. Just because I have a better grasp on who I am now, doesn’t mean the idea of my “self’ won’t evolve.
It will. It should.
I just know myself well enough to be myself at this point. If I’m not going to be me, who will? Don’t wait too long to get to know the real you.