It takes a lifetime to really know everything about yourself but if you are in the middle of an existential crisis, the desperation to know who you are and what you are even doing here can become overwhelming. We have all been there and most of us will have some sort of identity crisis at some point, whether it is the classic teenage existential crisis or the cliched midlife crisis.
Though you may never fully know everything about yourself, learning which parts make up the whole will help build your confidence. Only when you are truly comfortable with who you are is it possible to hold your head high. There will always be tough times but equally, having the ability to surprise yourself is no bad thing either.
So, who are you really?
The Ability to Learn, Always
Learning is at the heart of being human. We are a curious species and learning comes naturally to most of us. Learning is all about growth. We are constantly influenced by the things we see, read and watch which is why cultural pursuits are so popular. Humans crave knowledge that can’t be expressed simply, which is why the arts continue to reinvent themselves. If you are after the answers to fundamental questions like ‘who am I?’ the arts are a very good place to start and the more you learn about the form, the more will be revealed to you.
But knowledge can also be incredibly useful. Most jobs are defined by the knowledge you are expected to have and the understanding you can provide. For example, you would expect a nurse to have a particular set of skills and knowledge to provide care for their patients. Doing a vocational degree like an online MSN MBA dual degree is a good way to push yourself and discover new talents. And, there is nothing like caring for another person’s health and other basic to bring about self-enlightenment.
Constant learning is good for you. It keeps your brain active, opens up new avenues for fun and can often lead to making new friends too. Attending classes and workshops is highly sociable and, since you already have something in common, it is usually easier to make new friends this way than simply picking someone to talk to out of a crowded room. And never underestimate what you can learn from a conversation with a friend.
Your Passions and Interests
The pursuit of knowledge often fuels our passions and interests but you don’t need a degree or any formal education to have a passion. A passion can be anything and most people have several different passions over their lifetime. Of course, if you are in the pits of an existential crisis, figuring out what you are passionate about can be tough.
A good start is to look at the things you keep doing and the interests you are constantly pursuing. This doesn’t have to be anything profound, being passionate is about understanding what makes you tick, not what makes you exceptionally boring at a dinner party! Often, looking back to your childhood is a good clue to what you are passionate about but, as above, the more you explore, the more passions you will discover.
For some lucky people, a passion can become a job but don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself right now. Passion projects are often fun and compelling because they aren’t a part of your regular job. A great passion project will give you a chance to explore a different part of yourself. It’s no wonder blogging is so popular!
Your Attitude and Outlook
You should never underestimate how your attitude and outlook can shape the person you are. Perspective is one of the most important attributes you can hope for and something you can learn. And, with perspective, it’s possible to overcome unhelpful attitudes and outlooks to make more of your life and give yourself a chance to really discover the person you are – and then begin to actually like yourself.
When you have spent much of your life being self-critical and negative, it is all too easy to fall into a self-destructive pattern. While changing how you think is no small thing, it is possible to change your attitude and outlook for the better. A change in perspective is often all it takes for you to realize that you know who you are after all; you just needed to clear your vision and see yourself differently. Your friends can really help with this, modeling different attitudes and outlooks and helping you to change your own.
People who have positive outlooks tend to have a better relationship with themselves than others. Learning to let go of the trivial things, to rely on yourself to be happy and truly expressing yourself are all essential elements for building self-confidence. Self-confidence and happiness are circular. When you feel confident enough to make the choices that make you feel happy, you will feel happier enough to make the next bold step towards growing your confidence.
The People You Surround Yourself With
Your friends and family affect you far more than you might think. These are the people who shape your ideas – not just of your surroundings but also of yourself – so it’s really important that you gather the most supportive and wonderful people around you. Finding a group of friends who genuinely understand you and are willing to be honest with you even when it’s hard is vital. Indeed, finding a diverse group to bring out the best in each other is the best thing you can do for yourself.
But even when you have a wonderful set of friends, it’s important that you still give yourself opportunities to meet other people. This can be nerve-wracking, to begin with, but the more you talk to others, the more your own sense of self will solidify. Talking can be affirmative but it can also be challenging, pushing you to change your ideas and forcing you to take a different perspective, even if you don’t actually change your mind.
For all that the internet is bringing more and more people together in a virtual landscape, people are still hugely influenced by the people who are literally in their neighborhood. This is why so many techies move to Silicon Valley even though they could easily do their work from anywhere else in the world. The point is that in your locality, you could bump into all kinds of people and finding the culture that suits you is an important part of fulfillment.
What makes you YOU is a profound and ever-changing set of ideas. At times, it can feel like everything is up in the air and it is easy to be thrown off-course, and yet, returning to just one of these ideas can help you return to yourself. Being out of balance is all part of life and if there were no changes, we would not be able to grow. Remember this when you next have a crisis of self-confidence or lose your sense of perspective.
Your sense of self should not be tied to possessions or money or a particular job or title; your sense of self is much more fundamental and doesn’t rely on anything but your own self-knowledge. This is why so many people feel like frauds when they are trying to be someone they are not. Honesty with yourself must be the starting point for discovering who you are.
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