Chances are, if you are reading this, you are struggling to find inner peace, searching through articles and trying to find quotes to make you feel connections on this ridiculously large yet lonely planet.
I have been there, I am still there, and I am also still trying to find these feelings. What an interesting world we live in.
A place where it is necessary to find peace and serenity but also somehow fit this mold of being normal and not too much for others to handle, all while finding this perfect balance of uniqueness.
Here's the thing. I am not going to start giving tips about how to find yourself and be yourself because chances are, my guesses are no better than yours.
I am a nineteen-year-old girl, and can gladly say I have no idea what I am doing. However, the majority of my life, I have repeatedly tried to be other people without even knowing.
Did you read that? Yes, subconsciously I have tried to mold myself into other people. Not exactly one, but little parts of many. At an early age, I started to recognize the "things" that made others "happy" and tried to fit their unique puzzle pieces into my own, very different border.
So now, here I am, with absolutely no clue who I am. The reality is, "things" can not fulfill you, they can bring you joy. About a year ago, I was completely dumbfounded from all of my weaknesses and struggles, I was convinced that I would never find a place of harmony.
I could not fathom the idea that I needed to change. I even refused to do so. But the good news is, I didn't. I changed my perspective and found some peace without even realizing it while holding on to who I truly am at my core and recognizing that I needed to stop looking for these positive attributes of life in exterior things. It is true that you should not change for anyone.... except yourself.
For a very long period of time, I was conflicted at the thought of not knowing who I am, feeling disconnected with peers, and having major anxiety over the idea of not having any idea where to go.
Back then, I had decided that not knowing these things. was on an equal level with failure, and it was better to have an idea of something, than nothing at all. I am not in a place now to say I have it all figured out.
Yes, you read that right, I still do not know who I am. But I am learning more every day. I still have doubts and struggles, and I do not look at myself as a perfect human being. I do know a few "perfectly-flawed" things about myself:
1. I have a big heart.
Yeah, I do. Probably way too big at times. Sometimes I let people stay for way too long. I deal with things that most do not, on my own, because sometimes others are not there when I need them, but I still see the good in them.
I let this blind me at times. I see the good parts of people and in the world. I have compassion and empathy. What wonderful characteristics to have! While some may look at it as a downfall, I look at it as a success.
I have been through some really tough situations in my life, and still, yet, I somehow have this loving heart that desires connection and wants to love above all. This is something I used to resent because it often left me feeling too much or too little.
But I have come to a point in my life where I can set boundaries and I am happy to say that the love I experience very deep and special. It is a really rare gift to have.
Unfortunately for others, they may never experience a feeling as true as this in their entire life, and while it hurts when it is bad, it is so much better when it is good.
2. I am growing.
If I met last year's version of myself, I would literally throw her down a set of stairs. I am a completely different person now. I still struggle, go to counseling, and go through changes in depression medicines.
That does not mean I am failing. And it does not mean you are either. I find happiness in small victories now. I am proud of my weaknesses. I find the good things in the bad, even if they are minimal.
That does not mean I am good, it just means I am better. I am a better version of myself now than ever, with endless opportunities. I am changing physically, mentally, and emotionally every day. I am a different person and that is something to take a great amount of pride in.
Growth is what life is all about. If we knew all of the answers, what would be the point? Seems cliché to say, I know.
There is not always comfort in these words, even for me. But luckily, I am at a place now where I can say that I am grateful for the lows, because not only are they necessary, but they make the highs feel so much sweeter.
3. I have no idea what my passions are.
I always longed to be the person that knew exactly what they wanted in life.
I have always envied and resented other people for knowing exactly what they wanted in life and also those that have this burning passion for activities or hobbies. Well good for them! No, but seriously, that IS great.
But I have no idea what or where I want to work. I do not particularly know what activities or hobbies I have passion for. I do not have this burning desire to be someone or something.
Of course, I know that I enjoy doing specific things like painting and singing and running. But no one sticks out more than the other.
Jobs and working have not yet made me feel fulfilled. I experience joy and not fulfillment. And it really irks me when people tell infer that you must eventually figure it out.
But I do not have to know. I am only answerable to myself, and I know now that other's expectations (and my own) of needing TO KNOW everything, just ruin the beauty in the journey.
It is nearly impossible for materialistic things to bring you fulfillment because it comes from within. I believe that I will know when I know, and I need to stop trying to skip the journey.
The reality is, I may never know. I have found peace with not knowing because I learn new things about myself every day, and for now, that is enough. Things bring us joy, not contentment. It is difficult to realize this when you are discovering your inner-self and that is okay. As people, we are constantly changing.
4. I am emotional.
It is very easy for me to get my feelings hurt. I read into things and internalize them. I am irrational and take things to heart. I cry in mediocre movies and get angry easily.
Maybe it is too much, but I recognize it as a healthy lifestyle. To me, being emotional means to experience all emotions as they come and deal with them.
Allowing them to come and go as needed, and experiencing what life is really all about: learning to live with yourself. It is not realistic to experience one feeling forever.
Yeah, it's true, happiness is not a destination. I have come to realize that it not seizable or healthy to make this a main priority, because true contentment and fulfillment come from being kinder to yourself and listening to your heart.
5. I have unrealistic expectations, for myself and others.
My standards are too high. It is easy to say things like "never settle for less than what you deserve" but the facts are that I do expect things that are completely unrealistic out of my self and others. I am never content because I set this bar so high up that no one will ever reach it.
For a long time, I decided that I would not change just so others could treat me worse than I "deserve". And it is true, you should never EVER settle, but I am truly irrational sometimes. It is difficult to decipher between feelings of being rational/realistic and used/disappointed.
I often trouble myself with the thought of accepting less than what I deserve, and sometimes, maybe I do. In this, I have come to the peace with the idea that my part of my brain that thinks I always deserve more (no matter how much I have been given) is there to protect me.
This particular part is driven to success and wants me to be the best version I can be. That is great, but it is not completely matured or rational. There is a very specific balance between the two ways of thinking.
I have to constantly remind myself that I need to hold myself accountable for my own life, take care of myself, and not need or expect that others can fix my problems and issues. I can have special people in my life, but I cannot lean on them for everything. This challenges me every single day.
But, along the way, I have learned how to analyze my thoughts in an adult manner, rationalize them, and figure myself out, by myself. It has also helped me to develop new ways of reason and ideas on how to rely on the only person I have control over: myself.
6. I do not like big crowds of people.
Yeah, that's right. Once a social butterfly, now an introvert. I desire deep connections. This is something I have not grasped with a big group of friends. I do not feel as if people "really" understand me. It is like everyone has this soulmate or this big group of friends that they will have forever, and then there is just me.
I can fit into many different groups, and talk to many different types of people, but I never leave feeling connected the way I wanted. I have tried doing the whole big group and partying thing, meeting new "friends" every weekend.
The truth is, it was exhausting. I was trying so hard because I wanted that to be my "thing" but it just simply wasn't. It brought me joy, at times, but I believed it was the only way to find contentment.
I have come to terms with the fact that I may never have a huge group of friends. I use the fact that generally establish "surface-level" connections with others to be an opportunity for me to become deeply connected with myself.
7. I am very hard-headed.
I could realistically argue with a fence post. I am very good about not standing down. I do not like to be wrong, and I like to get my way.
The amount of arguing I do sometimes is absurd. I have strong beliefs and values that I am not willing to compromise. This was once a challenge. I believed everyone should be like me and think like me and that no one understood me. Still yet, I struggle with these things.
But I do realize how necessary it is to be open-minded, to respect other's opinions and beliefs, and not belittle them for any reason, no matter how much the issue matters. I have learned to accept and open myself up for learning. I listen more now than ever. I want to hear other's opinions and rationale behind different issues that occur in my life.
I am still as strong as a brick wall when it comes to change, but I have learned to truly try to understand the view of others, stand with it, and respect it, even if I do not side with it. It is necessary to have diversity.
8. I refuse to believe I am a failure for all of these characteristics.
At one point in my life, I looked upon myself as a complete failure. All of my personality traits that made me who I am were considered problems because they left me feeling empty, disconnected, and very unsettled. I have learned that it is important to embrace strong parts about myself.
At one point, I could only look at these things in the dark, with the belief that I truly would never feel contentment unless my entire persona did a 360. It has taken a lot of time to get where I am, and not a chance in hell would I say I was pleased. But I have more peace now.
I am grateful for this growth and realization that maybe I do not have to change myself, but just the way I perceive this journey. Now, I feel much more confident in finding joy in connections and contentment with my own self.
I have come to peace with the idea of the journey. I have come to peace with the things that I do not know about myself, and I can honestly say, a year ago, I looked at life in a completely different light because of this.
I have come to peace with growth. With the idea that everything might not be okay, but it will happen, and I will learn how to deal with things as they come.
I know that I am on the greatest expedition of all time, and although at some points I feel completely alone, deep down, I know that I truly am not. I know now that I do not have to change myself to experience feelings of fulfillment.
We can all take these strong characteristics and make them beautiful. You are not too much, or too little, or "too" anything. You do not need to CHANGE yourself to feel contentment and achieve connections. You are you, and it is a special thing to be.
You might currently be surrounded by your own struggles, but with a little growth, rational thinking, hard work, and a positive mentality, that can turn into outstanding harmony.
I still have a long way to go, but the good news is, I have a long time to get there. It is difficult and sometimes impossible, but I have started to take time and devote it more to myself because self-love is not always bubble baths and face masks. It is actual work. It is journaling and challenging yourself to think in ways you never have before.
It is accepting good and bad feelings & characteristics and realizing that not one of them is wrong. "Your happiness was never about your job, your relationship, your degree, or following in the footsteps of those set out before you.
It was always about the discovery, listening and following your heart where ever may take you, and embracing the person you are becoming. It is about learning to live with yourself. It was always about you." (paraphrased) -Bianca Sparacino And I hope someday, you are brave enough to start and accept this journey too.