Ok, so I’m not a counsellor or a therapist and I’m in no way trying to be! There are certain times when our mental health requires a specialist to intervene, to help you back on the right track and looking back at certain points in my life, I would have benefited greatly from accessing a professional. But with stigma high around mental health at that time and then my “I’ll get through it on my own” attitude towards the issue, I just never did.
So, when it came to knowing myself, I’ll be honest, it took a while to figure myself out. It seems silly right? The concept of not really knowing yourself? Something we all take for granted, as there is almost an unwritten concept that we should know ourselves better than anything in the world and when questioned about, we get on the defensive…”Of course I know myself! What a silly thing to suggest!” But, if we’re really honest with ourselves, at a point in our lives when we were so adamant about this topic, is when we really didn’t know…and that insecurity makes its appearance in other ways….
The wild days! You know the ones I’m talking about! Wink! Wink! Nudge! Nudge! Where you did things regarded as “out of character” (well, the character you thought you were), slept too little, drank too much, didn’t eat enough, hung out with people who you would not normally associate yourself with… Just me?? Ok…you keep telling yourself that…. In all seriousness looking back, this was me trying to figure out who I was and I was miserable while doing it too….my mid 20’s when everyone else seemed to be having the time of their life (and me looking like I was). I’d describe my 20’s as one of my most difficult time periods in life…I was working too much (Yes there isn’t a typo there! I was working 4 jobs, plus a full-time degree), not sleeping enough, not having enough meaningful social interaction, my finances were a mess, I wasn’t where I thought I was supposed to be in life and I had no idea where I wanted to be… I was in a very dark hole wondering how the hell I was going to get out!
I remember being at school and in such a rush to grow up. But why? Being older signified independence, money, no restrictions, my own place, living by my own rules… Little did I know, that those things didn’t just magically appear when you reached a certain age. I needed to reach certain points in my life to have all of those things. Poor naive Serena….
At school my friend and I had birthdays exactly a week apart. So, we made up a ritual that we performed to recognise the triumph of growing a year older. In the school yard during break time, we would celebrate with a silly little dance, that involved bumping our bums together whilst chanting how old we were going to be that year and then how old we were going to be the year after and the year after that and so on and so forth… We found this hilarious! It still makes me chuckle thinking about it to be honest….
Reaching my 20’s was not the fairy tale dream I thought it would be…far from it. I spent a lot of it, watching (bad) TV, staying up too late playing games (The Sims! Don’t judge me!), spending money I didn’t have; reading at night and sleeping brought a solace and escapism of the nightmare that I felt I was living. In hindsight, what I needed to do was, exercise a little gratitude, have some focus, stop feeling sorry for myself and recognise the people in my life that added value….and to know myself. I used to have a little saying, right up until I met my partner in crime “My 16-year-old self would not be happy!” I was referring to my current state or point I was at in life. My expectations, however, were so unrealistic.
This was my timeline of life…
16 – 20 years old: Go to college, have fun, meet the love of your life, pass my driving test and drive an amazing car.
20-25 years old: Land a great job with amazing pay and get my own place.
25 – 30 years old: Get a promotion with a sizeable pay rise, get married and have my first child.
30 – 35 years old: Settled in my own perfect home, with my perfect little family, have a perfect circle of friends, be a managing director of a company etc…
35 years old and onwards (because you had everything sorted by 35, plus 35 is so old!): Lots of savings in the bank and be planning my retirement. Holidays to the Caribbean would be standard.
Ok! Ok! Have you finished laughing… calmed down… Yes, I know! Like I said, young and naive. For some, this will be accurate, but for most, this is far from reality. Oh! I’ve nailed the friends circle though! You know who you are 🙂
Since I arrived at my mid-thirties, I have really started to pay attention to different parts of my being, my understanding and taking notes on what excites me, what angers or irritates me, what inspires me, my emotions in general and figuring out their origin. I suppose a little psychotherapy on myself and you know what? I’m much happier for it. Just going through the process of it….so I don’t think you necessarily have to 100% know yourself to be happy, or achieve self-belief, but at least be honest with yourself about where you are right now….
So, I’ll ask you again, and be honest…how well do you know yourself? This is not a trick question… when it comes to happiness, positivity and self-belief, I think this is so important! But, don’t feel bad if you don’t and this is definitely not a dig at your character. No matter where you are in life, we’re all learners and some will know better than others… I consider myself a lifelong learner and will never stop, as long as I live. Going through this journey is teaching me so much about myself, which in turn is bringing me so much happiness and focus in my life.
So where do you begin to get to know yourself…? Ok a few things you can do and start immediately…
Listening to yourself… I mean that inner voice. Yes, the one that you cannot turn off, that speaks so loudly at times you cannot even hear anything else… This is a good beginning to understand how you see yourself. Are you kind to yourself, or is that voice critical and negative…? If it’s the latter, start to challenge it with positivity…
Values…what are your own values? Are you able to easily exercise them in your day to day life…in your work, for example? Or does the job that you do, work against those? I find that when looking for jobs and looking at that person specification, we try so hard to see how we fit it; what examples can I bring to showcase that particular quality, skill or my experience…? Whereas, what I think we really should be doing first, is spinning that on its head and saying… How does that job fit my own values? Will it help me exercise them…or will I have to go against them? Again if the latter, chances are, you’re unhappy or stressed in your job (where you spend most of your time), which bleeds into the rest of your life… I know I have been there, but that’s another story!
Comfort zone killer… If you’re comfortable and content and living your dream ignore me. But if you’re comfortable, but restless, bored, down, stressed and depressed, then I challenge you to challenge yourself and get out of that comfort zone… see my other blog titled “A Must Do to Achieve Self Belief”
Which leads me onto my final point in my blog…
What lights your soul on fire? What excites you! I mean really gets you going? Makes you really happy that you wish that you could exercise at all times, your passion…if you don’t know, now is your time to find out! To try new things to get to know YOU…
Thank you again for reading my blog! If you never want to miss a blog, please subscribe here.