When we’re children we dream and let our imaginations flow. We believe we can be anything in life. There’s a freedom to it.
As we get older, we become more aware of and are more influenced by society’s rules, constraints and expectations. That freedom to think without boundaries constricts.
For me, I’ve never wanted conventional things. They’re just not what light me up. I’ve had my own ideas for the life I want, and I have followed them. I’m not saying I live a perfect life, or that everyone should live as I do, but I have been able to define my priorities and set up parameters for a life that is true to myself. I’ve been told by people over the years that they wish they were able to do the same.
So how does one shuck off society’s definition for what life “should be”, or what “success” is, and live according to what’s inside of them?
The first thing is to know yourself. Truly know yourself. Many people jump straight from being at home or in college to living with someone and defining their life in parallel to someone else’s. I don’t think that’s bad ultimately – BUT I do believe people benefit from taking some time to themselves to really figure out who they are. In my opinion, it’s very important to spend time exploring your likes and dislikes and become in tune with what resonates with your soul. This can be done at any point in one’s life. In many ways it’s preferable to do it earlier in life, if possible. That way, you go forth knowing who you are and attracting more of the right kinds of energy to yourself. Sometimes it’s not possible to do this till later, so know that you can take this journey at any point.
Some ways to get in touch with your true self
- Take time every day, or at least several days a week, to do something by yourself: go on a drive, explore a location, etc. Learn to be comfortable with and enjoy your own company.
- Try doing something creative. Sit and write stream-of-consciousness for an hour, play an instrument, draw, etc. Let yourself do this without judgment. It may feel awkward or strange at first, but it will get easier — and the reward, to get more in touch with yourself, is SO great! The more you do these things, the easier it becomes to be at ease with yourself, to clearly hear what your mind and body are telling you, and to develop a steady sense of confidence.
Once you know yourself better and are able to hear and listen to what you truly want, you can move toward a life that more purely aligns with your soul. As with anything in life, there are almost always obstacles, like money or location. However, there is always a way to achieve the life you want to some extent, on your own terms.
For me, from a young age I knew I wanted to be an artist. I also knew that I didn’t wish to get married. I have faced a lot of judgment for those choices. No matter the criticisms or odd looks, I have had this compass inside me that just would not let me go any way but toward where my heart directed. For you, your desires for your life will likely be quite different from mine. The point is to not pass judgment on yourself. And as much as possible, don’t compromise who you are or what you want. I think a lot of people find it less difficult to brush off the judgments of others as they get older. What other people think simply becomes less important. And when you have, or develop, a strong sense of self, it becomes simpler yet.
Another thing society likes to impose on us is its definition of “success”. I believe this sets us up to fail. Without the “perfect” job, partner, home, body, etc we feel we are not enough. It’s incredibly easy to get caught in this trap. When we take the reins into our own hands though, and say, “ok, here’s what is important to me, and here’s what it would mean for me to feel successful”, the dynamic completely changes. There is further freedom in knowing that we’re allowed to redefine what those things are at any time and however often we wish. Feeling that control automatically makes taking steps to achieving your goals more attainable.
What is it that would make YOU happy? What would your life have to look like to not have regrets?
To answer big questions like those, and to continue to know yourself more deeply, meditation is a great tool. Meditation can help instill calmness, clarity and a strength of vision. I’m not going to go into actual meditation exercises here, but there are many resources where you can find different types of meditation and how to perform them. One type of meditation that I have found particularly useful is creative visualization. Taking time daily, if even for a few minutes, to envision the things you want and to see yourself in situations you want to be in, is very powerful.
We never fully know ourselves. And we are constantly changing. But taking the time to discover ourselves as much as possible is an invaluable investment. I felt lost when I was bobbing around trying to be different things I thought I should be. Once I became more comfortable with myself and who I am, I have felt an overall sense of security. Again, no one is perfect, and there will be moments of confusion. Don’t punish yourself for your confusion. Explore them and stay in the discomfort till things start to become clearer.
After I became happy with who I am, I developed a trust in myself that allows me to handle whatever life throws my way. If that’s something you’re longing for in your own life, I genuinely hope you’ll take the time to invest in yourself and discover the unique wonder that is you. Feel free to contact me here or on social media 🙂