When I was a senior in high school, I thought I had the world figured out. Didn’t we all? We were adults, brand new adults with freedoms we’d never known before. Of course that meant we knew everything!
Not so much.
What has amazed me since then is how many major life decisions we’re required to make when we’re so painfully ill-equipped to make them. Pick a major, decide where to live, choose your career, rent or buy a home, start a retirement account, etc. I could go on, but you get the point.
All those choices are things I look back on now and wish I’d done something different. But every single one of them helped me to find my true self. Without the mistakes in my past, I never would have learned who I really am. My life would have taken different turns, and I don’t believe in regretting my past. I can’t change it, and I love the life I have, so why wish it were different.
Although not going into debt would have been nice.
For every decision we make, we can learn something. We should learn something. Sometimes those life lessons teach us about the world, something about our close family and friends, and almost always they teach us about ourselves. Those are the best lessons.
When we’re young, we’re told what to believe. We go to church with our parents (or not), we follow their rules. We listen to our teachers and other adults around us. But once we grow up, we have to take all that information and start to form our own beliefs about the world.
As a kid, everything is black and white. It’s either right or wrong, and your parents and teachers tell you which is which. But as an adult, we have to make those own determinations. We learn that life is really more shades of gray than black or white. Every choice we make has multiple consequences. Nothing is easy like when we were simple. You will argue with the people closest to you about things you never thought mattered, but all of a sudden they do.
One of the first things you learn when you find yourself is what you believe. What make you want to stand up and shout? What makes you angry? What hurts you? Then you have to figure out how to handle all that.
What You Do
I’m a timid person. I don’t like confrontation. I shy away from conflict. I avoid people who are argumentative. It all makes me uncomfortable. I envy people who can articulate their thoughts and feelings well. I have to feel prepared. If I know what I’m going to say, or am passionate about something, I have no problem standing up for things. But as a general rule, I avoid it.
I wish I could be more vocal. I wish I could stand up more. When I feel I’m unprepared for an argument, I walk away. It’s rare that I will challenge someone.
But I can write. If you give me time to process, time to think, and time to frame a response, I’m there. It’s my personality that I don’t like in-person conflict, but I like to think I’m not going to back down. I just need time. I know what I believe, and I know how to handle confrontation my way. And it took me a long time to be okay with that, but it’s all part of who I am.
Who You Are
We are all special snowflakes. Each of us has a passion, or a few, a belief system, a personality profile, etc. Each of us is made up of complex experiences, painful and thrilling, that have helped form us. We all have thoughts and emotions and ideas that are truly unique. And all that comes together to form us.
If you have siblings, you know that you can experience the same things as someone else and have completely different reactions to it. We all handle events differently. And that’s a good thing. The person you are helps you make the choices you have to make in your life. You will be the one who decides if you buy the new house or rent an apartment for a few more years. You will decide if you go to college or start working immediately. You will decide if your dreams come true or not.
Years ago, my husband and I were looking at building a new house. We loved the house and were ready to move from our townhouse since we were about to start our family. There were tons of options out there that we could have bought, but we wanted that one. A friend questioned me about it, and I told her no one would make my dreams come true for me. I still remember that moment because it was one that reminded me who I was. I stood on my own two feet, with my husband at my side, making one of my dreams come true. It wasn’t an easy process, especially since I was pregnant through all of it, but it was worth it. When we made the decision to sell that house and move 800 miles away, it was tough to let go of that dream, but I knew I was moving toward another dream of mine. And again, no one was going to make it come true for me.
Finding yourself is not limited to becoming an adult. I still have to find myself every few years. We change, we shift, we adjust. But at the core is always our beliefs, what we do, and who we are.
How did you find yourself?
He never imagined he could feel whole again. When he meets her, she brings a light to his life that disappeared long ago. He’ll do anything to hold on to it, and her.
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