You may have heard this quote by e.e. Cummings:
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."
I have always loved this quote, because it is so true. All through my teens and twenties I thought I knew who I was, with the false bravado so typical of teenagers. I realize now, in my mid-thirties, that I was lying to myself.
I was desperate to fit in, and became a chameleon of sorts: Adapting to my various friends, liking what they liked, talking like them, dressing like them, watching the same TV shows and listening to the same music.
The problem, however, is that you have a hard time being in your own company. At least I did. Because I didn't recognize the person I was becoming, and had the nagging feeling that I wasn't myself. But the big question was: Who was I?
"Just be yourself." How often have we heard it? Said it? Thought it? Countless times. Yet it is one of the hardest things to do.
First, you have to figure out who you really are, and that's easier said than done. We all want to be part of something, belong somewhere, and in order to do that many of us adapt to our environment.
The people we hang out with are often the ones that happen to be part of our normal life: fellow students, co-workers, neighbours. We didn't choose them, life put them in our path randomly. In our desire to belong, we will sometimes do or say things that we wouldn't do or say otherwise.
But by doing that, we are in danger of losing ourselves. Not knowing who you are is a confusing and frightening feeling. Your sense of self is what defines you as a person, what makes you strong and confident. It means you respect yourself too much to not be true to yourself.
In order to find out who you really are you have to turn your attention inwards, towards yourself. The first clue is how you feel in any given situation. Are you feeling carefree, happy and comfortable in that situation? Or do you have this little churning sensation in your stomach, your smile is forced and your whole body is uncomfortable? Listen to these clues. Your subconscious is trying to tell you something, and it uses your body to convey the message.
Once we realize that certain places or people make us feel ill at ease, we have to let them go. Cutting people out from our lives is a difficult, but necessary task. When people are toxic for us we need to distance ourselves from them.
Constantly checking your behaviour, trying to please other people and attempting to follow their unwritten rules is exhausting.
By letting go of that pressure and deciding to do what feels right for you, your life will not only become easier, but so much more enjoyable!
Making choices without needing the approval of others is incredibly liberating.
While it is helpful to seek the advice from others, nobody but you knows what is right for you.
The great thing about making your own decisions is that you take full responsibility for your life.
It may not always work out (spoiler: it won't), but that doesn't matter. What matters is that you are okay with yourself, imperfections, mistakes and all.