The bigger questions of life, such as, “Who am I“, come up when we’re dissatisfied with our lives, unhappy with the choices we’ve made, or maybe overwhelmed with working and not getting ahead. We thought that what we wanted would make us happy, but it isn’t. We’re bored with our lives, or we’re tired of pretending to be something we aren’t.
“Man, Know Thyself.
You probably have seen this quote. I had read this many times, but earlier in my life, I judged it. I thought only a self-indulgent, narcissistic and pompous, a pedantic person would contemplate questioning, “Who am I”. I mean, we’ve lived with ourselves and already know all our idiosyncrasies, our faults, and our strengths.
Then I found myself being asked the question. I was feeling depressed in my thirties and not sure what was wrong with me. I had been sure of myself before that, having success as an artist, and I was loving my life. Now I was feeling worthless and unlovable. Nothing about my life was fulfilling anymore.
My husband and I joined a group led by a psychologist. The group was an extension of a Parent Effectiveness Training class we had taken.
I find it ironic that after learning how to deal with our children more effectively, we ended up having to deal with ourselves.
Here we were, in a group playing like children in the class. We played games which our reactions-I realized later-would possibly trigger negative experiences.
In one of the games we played, a group of eight of us sat in a circle. Our psychologist instructed us to tell everyone else ten things we were when it was our turn.
I thought this would be easy. “I know what I am. I am a mother, a wife, an artist, a good cook, a contributing member of our community, a woman, a teacher, a docent, a traveler, a fair skier, and a better tennis player.”
But, when my turn came to answer, “I’m nothing” was all I heard as I rattled off the list of things I had mentally prepared to say.
My reaction to the question “Who are you?” startled me, upset me even more than my inability to feel happy had before. Now it had become official. There was definitely something devastatingly wrong with me.
I can laugh at myself now that know better. I don’t see that reaction I had in the group as tragic today. If I were to face a similar encounter now, I would respond differently. I would celebrate.
I would see it as a chance to start with a new, clean slate, a blank canvas on which I could create the woman I wanted to be. But at that time I wasn’t aware of what I know now.
The realization that I believed we are what we achieve, convinced me that so I had become the woman I was because I was seeking approval and respect. I did it out of fear of being rejected.
The sad part to me now was not that I realized what I’d become was nothing, it was that I didn’t know who I really was.
Through counseling, I discovered that I didn’t really know what I liked. I had been so eager to please others that I didn’t have a clue what I’d prefer eating, which movie I’d rather watch, or what songs were my favorite.
I didn’t know that my thoughts were the reason I had become so unhappy; that and the belief that I was the victim of life’s circumstances. I hadn’t been able to see I had choices.
I have this quote on my refrigerator:
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
I did end up having to find myself (aka: Know thyself) before I was able to create myself as I preferred to be. This is also what creatives need to do. An artist has to develop the skills to paint what they wanted to share, and a writer needs to write a lot before they can be aware and adept enough to know what they really wanted to express.
We have to do the same in our lives. We have to have the skills and know-how to be able to discover what is in the way of our being happy.
I bought the quote for my refrigerator as inspiration while I created a new me, and through the process, I realized I didn’t want to create myself as anyone who needs to impress for approval and respect anymore. I had come farther than that. What I wanted now is my self-respect, sense of worth, and the confidence I was lacking.
What I’ve found since then is that creating ourselves isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a never-ending journey.
Because of circumstances and events that are thrust in our lives, the changes we face force us to change, too. The woman I was is not the woman I am now. And future versions of myself will evolve from one moment to another depending on the realizations I’ve made.
Sometimes we make awarenesses that will enhance who we’re being.
Now I’m certain I don’t have to remain stagnant. I can change any time I want to be happy.
Who am I? I’m nothing like I’m going to be.
For more on Self-Awareness go to https://wp.me/p9td7w-w3