Who are you? That simple statement makes people think of the obvious: child, sibling, your occupation, your nationality etc. Nothing is wrong with those answers, but they aren’t really the depth of who you are, are they?
I was with a colleague and friend, whom I care for deeply. He asked me if I knew who I was. I knew that the obvious answers were not what he was looking for. I answered honestly, “I don’t know” I said. As I am typing this, it is the next day after he asked me, and this has been on my mind. He also said that the person I should be, may not be someone that everyone (including loved ones) will even like at all.
When I look at myself and even some other people, I realise many of us become or act a certain way to impress, to scare, to dominate, and to do so many other things. I know that for myself, I am a people-pleaser. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily by nature but because I have been taught that if I do not make those around me happy, then I am wrong and eventually this becomes a nagging guilt. I was brought up this way. Slowly in my own way, I have been abandoning this principle. Not because I don’t want to see people happy, but because I was not.
You know as a child you are required to do certain things that make your parents happy, because they feel comfortable. Like hugging and kissing family members; not saying your opinions, doing exactly as they wish and following their beliefs. Then as you get older, you begin to adopt different mindsets that fit better for you. For example, I am not a very big hugger, I hug some friends and some family, but if I truly am uncomfortable, I do not like to force myself. That hasn’t always gone down well with a few people. I was told to hold back opinions and as a result, I fear saying my opinions at work. So now, instead at work, I say it with my face and slowly construct my words to convey my opinion. If I am understood, I take it that I either didn’t string my sentences together properly or it was the other person who refused to understand me.
What I guess I am saying is, who are you outside of the person you were told to be like growing up, the person expected at work and in social events and the side of you that you may be too scared to show? I am still on this path of discovery, but I know that side of me has come out a few times and to people’s surprise. Remember, people have known you a certain way and to change that will be difficult for them to comprehend and some will want to leave. Those who leave wouldn’t have had much space in your life to begin with and probably were taking the space of someone who should be there.
Embrace the real you. That is the you outside of who everyone defines you to be or even the roles you take on, on a daily basis. Remember that you need to make yourself happy and then the other people can follow.