How do we know who we are, and what we’re all about?
After all, it may not be obvious.
Some of us have been through a LOT on this journey.
We’ve been through storms. We’ve survived attacks.
We’ve been betrayed. We’ve been momentarily silenced.
After all that…it’s not weird that some of us have forgotten who we are and what we’re all about.
The struggle to meaningfully develop your personal identity can be at the core of basic psychological struggles, such as depression or anxiety.
Trauma, in particular, has a way of making us forget who we are and what we’re all about— or burying it under a hurricane of OTHER things to pay attention to, for the sake of survival.
So who are you, really?
Part of you knows.
Part of you hasn’t forgotten.
Part of you has hung on to what makes you tick. What’s important to you.
What you have to do now is rediscover it.
That involves a lot of listening— which, itself, involves a lot of patience.
Rediscovering who you are and what you’re all about requires paying attention— and refusing to judge.
Remembering who you are requires you to approach who you MIGHT be with compassion and curiosity…as opposed to scorn and impatience.
Many of us have spent years trying to be who someone ELSE wants us to be.
We’ve spent years trying to be someone we think won’t get made fun of. Someone who won’t get bullied.
We’ve spent years trying to be someone who is acceptable to “them.”
But what makes YOU smile? Like, really smile?
What makes you laugh? Really laugh?
What makes you cry? Authentically, spontaneously cry?
The project of developing and affirming your personal identity begins with you sitting down and writing about who you MIGHT be.
Your emotional life has clues.
Your fantasy life has clues.
What turns you on, what excites you, even what repulses and repeals and enrages you.
These are all clues about who you are.
Sit down and write out a list of people you admire. People you respect.
People you like, people you are attracted to, people you love, even people you hate.
Sit down and write out the music that moves you. The movies that captivate you.
Then, step back, and look at what you’ve written.
Themes will start to emerge.
Who you are will start to take shape.
What kind of person is into those things? Who loves those people? Who hates those other people and things?
Form some hypotheses.
Imagine who you could be, who you might be.
Develop that picture slowly, consciously, patiently.
This is your life’s work. Take your time with it.
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