The art of finding oneself is talked about immensely. It's tremendously overestimated.
Google anything along the lines of finding yourself, and you'll probably be able to read for years. Personal stories — such as this one — narrated by young adults who share their lightbulb moments of finding who they are will sprawl across your screen. Scams and $9.99 instructional books will pop up in your results.
They all offer the secret to truly discovering yourself. Or at least, they make it seem that way.
As a 21-year-old female who grew up in a first-world country with no actual troubles or struggle, I too went on a search to find myself. I clicked on all the articles, bought a few of the instructional books and searched for the secret to ultimate self-discovery.
Along the way, I tried many different attitudes and personas. I debated dropping out of college and quitting my job, in order to haul my ass to Europe. (You know, the whole "Eat, Pray, Love" way.)
I also tried really hard to be the complete opposite of my wonderful parents. Sorry, guys.
I was on a mission, and I thought I was quickly on my way to success. What I didn't realize was this: By trying to find myself, I was actually losing myself.
But as I continued reading my material and watching indie movies of characters leaving their old lives behind for their search, my finish line grew further away. Yet, I had myself believing I had already crossed that finish line.
I was there. I had found myself, and I had everything figured out.
Then, I got an interview at a place I had always dreamed of working at. The week between scheduling the interview and the actual interview crawled by. When the day finally arrived, I nervously answered all their questions.
When it ended, I spent the rest of the day (and the day after) in bed. I was accompanied by my tears, food and Netflix.
I thought it had gone horribly wrong. I had rambled on during the interview, and my dream life crashed around me. The person I had worked so hard to find was slipping away.
Thankfully, I got my sh*t together. I got out of bed and kept on moving.
The next day, one of my family members mentioned something about going out on a boat for the summer. I got really excited about that idea.
But then, I remembered that if I did end up getting my “dream” job, I would have to move away. I would have to leave my family, my friends and my home state.
Suddenly, my dream life didn't seem like a dream at all. In fact, it seemed more like a nightmare.
I kept my thoughts to myself, however. After all, I had been talking about moving away and working for this publication for years now. I had put my life on hold to save for my move.
I barely did anything with my friends. I complained about everything in my hometown. and I declared my love for what would be my new home. If I told people that I suddenly didn't feel like moving, they'd think I was crazy.
I was confused. I thought I knew what kind of person I was. I thought this was the future I wanted.
I thought this was the only way for me to be happy. So, why did I not want to move? Why did all my hard work and research toward figuring out who I was not turn out the way I thought it would?
I decided that if I really wanted to figure out what was going on, I would have to stop reading other people's stories. It was time to stop watching characters find themselves on my television screen.
I took the next month off. I didn't write, I didn't read and I didn't watch indie movies. I didn't search for myself.
Instead, I spent money, got an apartment (without roommates), hung out with friends and enjoyed my life. It was during this time that I realized I had never actually found myself because you're not supposed to find yourself.
You're not supposed to go on a scavenger hunt to realize who you are. You're just supposed to live and enjoy your life. Along the way, you will learn things about yourself.
Traveling isn't supposed to be a way for you to find yourself. It's about experiencing a new culture, country and people. It's about making memories.
You can't act completely opposite from your parents and expect to find yourself. You're bound to share some similarities, considering you share DNA.
You can't read other people's life stories and anticipate that the same thing will happen to you. You're not these people. They don't have your life. There's no secret to finding who you are because there isn't supposed to be one.
Stop trying to find yourself. Just be yourself. Live your life the way you want. You know yourself better than any quiz out there does.