The Art of Becoming Who You Are

I’ve quite recently come the the conclusion that I have no idea who I am.

I thought – perhaps naively – that at 23, I was nearly done figuring out who I was, that I would have some sort of idea by now, but I’m no nearer to understanding myself now than I was at 5, or 10, or 15.

I thought graduating college and starting my first full-time, big girl job would provide some clarity, some insight. I thought I knew who I was becoming. But I find myself more confused than ever.

Isn’t adulthood meant to be a culmination of the discoveries of your youth? Shouldn’t I know who I’m supposed to be by now?

But truthfully, I shouldn’t be surprised. I have already been so many different people in my short life.

I have been shaping and tearing down and rebuilding myself as long as I can remember, scrapping the parts I don’t love, sloughing them off like dead skin, borrowing traits from others like cups of sugar.

Maybe I’ll be constantly searching for the girl I want to be. Maybe the uncharted territory beneath our skin is what makes us who we are, not the absence of it.

But how do you find yourself if you don’t know who you are?

Sit in the sunlight and drink coffee in strange cities and meet new people. Never trick yourself into believing you are a finished product. We are all endlessly creating and rearranging ourselves, becoming better, bolder, bigger.

Make time to be by yourself, discover who you are when no one else is around. Let the silence fill you up but never swallow you whole.

Learn how to let go of the past eras in your life with a gentle grace. Don’t keep the sweater that doesn’t fit anymore. Don’t force yourself into a life that is not your own. Learn when it’s time to say goodbye, and understand that sometimes that time will come before you’re ready to let go.

Adopt an unwavering belief in yourself, even as the definition changes shape. Carry an unshakable set of principles with you, no matter where you go or who you become. Light a fire in your rib cage to carry you home.

Buy yourself flowers and memorize your grandmother’s recipes and dance in the kitchen. Dye your hair or cut it all off or both. Reconnect with your childhood best friend or move to a new city when the time comes.

Call your mother to tell her you love her, text your dad to let him know you’re thinking of him.

Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend. Hold your head high at the end of the day. Support your sisters and be a voice for the voiceless. Learn to accept help, but never defeat.

Never let yourself become complacent, but understand that stability is not the same thing as stagnation. Don’t sacrifice self-definition for comfort, and vice versa.  

Listen to records you loved as a child and ones you hated. Learn something new about yourself with every verse.

Stevie Nicks once said, “I’ve been afraid of changing ‘cause I’ve built my life around you.”

Never let the foundations of your life become a cage. Take a good long look in the mirror. If you’re not in love with what you see, tear it down to the bones and start over. If you’re unhappy with your story, write a new ending.

Know that no matter what happens, you are the most important thing in your life.

So no, I don’t know who I’ll be next week or next month or in five years. But I can’t wait to meet her.

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