Do you spend much of your day being the person others expect? From our choice of jobs to the foods we eat, most of us go through the day being the version of ourselves that others expect to see.
A little self-exploration can help you figure out if the person you show the world is really the individual you want to be and, yes, you can change it if it’s not to your liking. After all, you need to be OK with who you, regardless of other opinions.
I was reminded recently that most people lack a particularly deep sense of introspection and self-awareness. It seems generally, we just bang our way through life, bouncing from wall to wall, changing direction as circumstances dictate without a moment’s understanding of why we do what we do.
Taking the time to understand our own actions and why we make the choices we do can help you be the person you’d like to be. One place to start is to accept what is often unacceptable by modern society – you’re not as simple as you think.
First, try to remember that each of us is multi-faceted, with layer after layer of complexity that make us who we are beneath the surface. No one is any one thing, though we’re often pigeon holed by those around us.
I’ve always rejected the idea that people are only one thing in life. “He’s a doctor,” or “she’s an business executive.” People just aren’t that one-dimensional regardless of how society prefers to encapsulate them.
In order to start down the road to self-awareness you must first accept that there’s more to yourself than meets the eye. Part of that sociological encapsulation of who we are starts in our own minds. If we believe we’re “this one thing,” then so be it.
Next, embrace your dark side. Some believe that our dark side is responsible for all the mistakes in life, but that’s just not true. “The Devil made me do it,” is for children’s stories. Your dark side can actually help you achieve what you want.
For example, when you stand up to someone who has seriously wronged you in some way, you depend on your “dark side” to squelch what might be a more predominant tendency towards civility and really let them have it!
There are also other aspects of who we are that we tend to ignore or just don’t show people. Sometimes people hold back characteristics of themselves that they believe would be poorly received by those around them.
Imagine an artist with a flare for business, or a professional rock musician who relaxes to classical chamber music. We often refer to this side of ourselves as having a “guilty pleasure.” It’s usually something that seems out of character but that gives us some sense of enjoyment and we don’t want anyone else in on it.
I would say, for me, a guilty pleasure would be indie cinema – that’s Indie, as in “independently produced,” not related to “Indiana Jones” as some might imagine with me. I will sometimes have an indie flick streaming in the background while I’m working or catch one when I have a couple of hours of downtime.
I’m generally more of a mainstream movie type so the indie films wouldn’t be something I would usually choose. So, to friends or family, it would seem remarkably odd for me but there is an interest there in the writing, the cinematography, whatever.
Also, spend some time looking at yourself in other ways. I don’t mean in a mirror, but make a list of things you like to do and try to figure out why you like them. Then, do the same for things your friends and family enjoy doing but that you really don’t and try to understand why.
What makes you partial to horror movies or spending time exercising rather than listening to classical music or attending symposiums about geraniums? If you can do that, you will be able to isolate more of the things you like and focus on them. Anything that makes you happier and helps you feel more like yourself is worth the effort.