Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit lost. With everything that’s going on, I feel that I’ve been losing pieces of myself among others. I’m in a new place, surrounded by new faces, and all of the people I’m speaking to are still merely loose friendships that still don’t have the strongest of foundations. I’ve been spending more time getting out there and meeting people than anything else, and while that’s a good thing, I’ve realized something quite scary: I haven't been able to pick myself out of a crowd.
Who am I?
Now, that’s a serious question that surely digs deep into anyone’s gut, because the truth is, no one really knows who they are. We have hobbies and likes and dislikes and opinions, but who are we really?
But, it doesn't matter who we are, because we can be our own, individual person regardless. We can acknowledge the things that make us who we are and use this acknowledgment to remain our own individual person. This is something I’ve learned over the past few weeks.
But, how do we stay true to ourselves? How can we be our own, independent person when we don’t know who we truly are? How can we find ourselves among this crazy world that pulls and tugs on our core values?
I’ve gone ahead and listed some things that have helped me connect to myself during these past few weeks.
Learn to be by yourself
Many times, when we are feeling alone or lost or confused, we tend to go to the comfort of others, lean our heads on their shoulders and use that feeling to feel accepted and whole. But, to truly find ourselves, we must learn to be completely okay with ourselves and all that we are, on our own. However, doing things alone is something I’m still struggling with. The minute I can’t find anyone to eat lunch or dinner with, my heart sinks. Or on weekends, when I’m alone in my dorm room for hours... let's just say I have yet to be completely okay with that.
Nobody likes being alone. Especially not in public places. Or, at least most people feel this way. It’s strange, really, to be in the comfort of only yourself. After a while, one starts to feel lonely.
But, the thing is, there’s a difference in loneliness and independence. Often, we mistake the two, so when we are on our own, we feel alone rather than strong and brave. It’s all about the way we perceive what’s going on in our lives.
And really, eating by yourself can be an amazing thing. Getting coffee alone, going to the dining halls alone, going to a restaurant alone, etc., can be extremely relieving, especially for people like me who are constantly surrounded by others.
I suggest that you do all of this without getting on your phone or snapchatting your food or tweeting, "Man, it feels good to be alone." Be by yourself completely.
Having alone time can help you figure out what you truly enjoy, because oftentimes when we’re always surrounded by people, we tend to become those people we are around, and lose who we are.
Doing things alone is completely okay. And remember: If you love who you are, and love being in the presence of yourself, you’re never truly alone. Right?
Make time to do what you want to do
When I first got to college, I stopped doing everything I did in high school because, in a way, I wanted to reinvent myself. I wanted to meet new people and find new hobbies and try new things, but the problem was, by doing this, I lost myself. I stopped writing, reading, meditating, doing yoga, swimming. I even stopped waking up early, and I’ve slowly turned into a night owl, which I seriously dislike! I don’t think I ever intended on doing any of these things, but I did. I certainly did, because now even my bookstagram feels foreign to me, and I never know what to say in my captions! It’s like I’m the same person but I’m also several different people and I can’t decide which one fits me best anymore.
So, don’t ever stop doing what you’re meant to do. Take a break from everyone and everything and participate in something you truly enjoy.
For example, I joined a creative writing club on my own, as frightening as it was to attend a meeting by myself. I’ve also started practicing yoga every day, and I try to go to the gym often, and once I went to the recreation center to swim laps. I do these things alone, and that’s okay because they’re my hobbies and my hobbies alone. And when I’m done doing the things my heart enjoys, I go back to everyone else.
Don’t forget to do the things that make you who you are. It doesn’t matter if they’re universally liked or not. Just do it.
Find your style and avoid following trends
The other night, I went to a bonfire with some girlfriends. I was planning to wear leggings and a sweater, but everyone else wanted to wear crop tops. I own a crop top (for the sole purpose of wearing it with a high-waisted skirt for when I’m feeling beachy), and because everyone else was wearing one, I decided to wear mine, and I hated it.
It wasn’t their fault that I hated it because I was the one who decided to wear it. But it just wasn’t me at all. I would’ve worn a sweater and leggings and boots if I wasn’t trying to be somebody “cooler”. (High school never ends, I swear.)
There have been many instances when I’ve looked at people and seen their outfits and I’ve thought to myself, “Is that how I’m supposed to dress?” At the beginning of the school year, I started dressing differently. I don’t even know what I wore that felt so different, but I knew it didn’t feel like me. It never really did.
Then the other day, I dressed like myself for the first time in what felt like forever. I wore knee-high leggings, mixed-matched socks with Converses, a nice floral shirt that was loose and comfortable but also fitting, and I wore big, orange, dangly earrings and a jade necklace. I brought a gray cardigan as well. And all day, I felt like myself.
My style is crazy and cute at the same time. It doesn’t always go together but I always make it work, and that’s how it’s always been.
You can change your style, of course. I’ve changed my style just a bit, at least. But, remember to wear clothes that you feel best in. Don’t put on crop tops just because someone tells you to, and don’t wear athletic clothes if that’s not your thing, and don’t wear jeans if you absolutely hate them. Wear you. Who cares if everyone is wearing something entirely different?
Embrace who you are from the outside-in.
Meditation is probably my favorite thing for balance and connection. I’ve been slowly getting back into it, trying to incorporate it into my daily practice. For example, yesterday I meditated in the morning right as I woke up and at night right before I went to bed.
Meditating is a great way to find your center and align yourself with your core.
It’s also a good idea to practice meditation in complete silence. By sitting in silence, your true thoughts come alive and are able to freely flourish in your mind. That’s one of the ideas behind meditation, at least, to understand what’s really important. The thoughts that appear in silence are the thoughts that really matter.
For just five minutes a day, or more if you wish, find a comfortable place and think about who you are and what you thrive to be, and meditate on that. You’ll find pieces of yourself you never knew existed.
Listen to your body
Oftentimes, we are rushing through the day and never get a chance to stop and listen to our bodies. If you need to pause for a coffee break, you should do that. If you want to revisit an old friend, be sure to do that. Your body, or your heart, knows best.
Develop yourself into who you want to be. Eat the foods you want, do the things you want, and be present with yourself, in your skin.
You already know who you are--you just have to clear the clutter and self-doubt in order to get there.
Authenticity takes time, but becoming your own best friend is the best feeling in the world.
Like me, you might feel funny in your own skin sometimes. You might look in the mirror and smile and feel like you’re smiling at someone else, rather than at you. And that’s okay. That means you’re changing, you’re adapting.
Life gets crazy and chaotic and sometimes we can't tell what is up and what is down, but we will always be able to go back to us. We will always be there for ourselves. We just have to sit back and listen to our bodies.
It’ll all work out in the end. It always does.