“I’m a little bit of everything rolled into one… I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint…”- Meredith Brooks
You know you’re a true 90s kid when you can recall driving home from middle school in your mom’s Dodge Caravan jamming out to Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” on the radio. Oh the thrill of signing the word bitch as the minivan peeled away from my catholic school student pickup line.
Fast forward a solid 15 years or so later and thankfully my advancement in maturity replaces that rebellious thrill for a whole new appreciation for that song.
We go through the progression of childhood, teenage years and make our way into early adulthood all the while learning and growing. Childhood is bliss. We can learn, explore and ultimately have no true responsibility for our actions because we’re “just kids”. The teen years that follow have been burdened as perhaps the most challenging because supposedly we learn here who we are and where we’re going. You go from 0-60 in a few years. One year you’re an awkward freshman with a tucked in collared uniform T-shirt speed-walking through the halls to be early for class; two years later you’re attending college fairs and determining exactly what it is you’ll be doing for the rest of your life and to support your future family that sex-ed is trying to prevent you from having. But seriously, no pressure.
With all that, though, I’d have to argue that the post college, young adult years are the most challenging of all. So you’re graduated with that degree you decided you’ll pursue when you were 17… now what?
My 7th year post college graduation is fast approaching and it is only until recently that I can truly and honestly answer the question: “Now What?”
The answer is: hone in on your Self Awareness. Undoubtedly your career, social network, family, and romantic relationships are important but it is my experience that these young adult, 20-something years are so crucial to finding your identity. Who are you now?… independent of who you were as one of the herd in school reacting to structure. Who do you choose to be out in the vast, open world?
I definitely struggled with uncertainty during my initial 20s. I found it difficult to determine who I was without my backpack, syllabus, and basketball practice routine. Being someone who finds comfort in planning and structure, I soon felt as if I was walking blindfolded on an unfamiliar path.
No matter if you’re a recent academic graduate or on the brink of a mid-life crisis, the wisdom I have gained throughout my uncomfortable but necessary journey is to keen your focus inward during these times. Hone in on what makes you, you. Recognize what makes you happy, sad, confident, and motivated. Take time to appreciate yourself and you’ll soon find the key to true success, happiness, and balance in all aspects of life is to first discover who you are.
Words Into Action
So how can we progress from limited self-awareness to gaining a true understanding of our identity? Here are some practices that I’ve found effective:
- Regain or practice independence: Do something for yourself by yourself. It will empower you and it will in turn strengthen your other relationships.
- Slow down: It’s difficult in this fast-paced, work-harder-with-less culture we will live in but when possible, try and slow down and take some time to think and reflect. You can’t possibly discover who you are and where you’re going in life if you’re always at 100% speed.
- Read: Self-help books are particularly helpful but just taking time to escape the world and center yourself can be therapeutic. I’ll admit I resisted my mother’s influence to read self-help books but I have found in my wiser and more open-minded years that they truly provide valuable insight.
- Engage in something you’re good at: Re-start the activity that you thought you no longer had time for but always made you feel good about yourself. Re-activate your talents and you’ll see how great it makes you feel to be you.
- Give yourself credit: Write down when you do something positive or true to yourself: I have a dry erase board on my kitchen wall where I record every time I do something in line with what makes me feel good. i.e. workout, read, journal, blog, worship, donate.
Food For Thought
- Who were you as a kid, teen and now adult?
- In what ways can you become more connected to what makes you, you?
- Do you think your life would be more all-around successful, happier, and balanced if you took time to appreciate and learn more about yourself?
Go and be a bitch, lover, child, mother… Just go be you!
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