Finding yourself is one of life’s toughest challenges. So many people, young and old, seem to feel lost these days.
We’re all fed these huge expectations about life and spend the first twenty years or so pursuing what we think is going to be a life of success and meaning. Then we find out that what we’re doing is feels anything but successful and meaningful.
It’s unbearable when the things you’re doing in life don’t match your values. It’s tougher still when no one understands how you feel. You try to explain it to them and they just sigh and say ‘Well, that’s life – grow up and deal with it like everyone else’.
But everyone else just seems happy to go on living an existence that, for you, has no appeal whatsoever. You can barely find the reason to get up in the morning and go through it all.
You’re different, and those who are different are the ones who make the difference. But carving out an individual path can be isolating and lonely. Finding yourself can take a lot of soul-searching. And it can take years of slow, unaided effort to get where you want to be. Worst of all, the approval and even the company of others may be the price you pay for the freedom to be yourself.
1. When you want to do something extraordinary, you might have to go it alone.
It’s easy to get help when you want to follow a conventional path. It’s safe, your parents or your spouse will approve, there’s plenty of opportunities around. When you want something that goes against convention, however, it’s something you’ve got to figure out for yourself. Finding yourself means finding the inner strength not to need approval.
Other people, even your elders, don’t always know everything, and they certainly don’t necessarily know what’s best for you. They may want the best for you, and think they know what that is. But that doesn’t mean they’re right. All they have to go on is their experience of life. Conventional wisdom is not always the best. Oftentimes, listening to other people will just stall your progress and help you do nothing but waste time treading water.
2. When you embark upon a big change, it might make people unhappy.
People come to expect you to behave in certain ways and be certain things to them. When you’ve outgrown certain patterns in your life and feel like you just can’t go on like this any longer, it’s a sign you’re headed for a metamorphosis.
Finding yourself can cause other people to feel like they don’t know you anymore. That’s sad for both them and you, but life is very short, and there may well be nothing after it at all. If you aren’t true to yourself in this life, when are you going to be true to yourself? Will you live just to keep others happy? You can, if that’s what you feel your calling is, and that’s wonderful – perhaps the best you can do in life.
But if you’re suffering, suffocating because your external life doesn’t match your internal needs, then you may have to break away. It will take bravery and you may have to go into a kind of chrysalis phase, where you’re completely isolated and don’t have a clue what your future will be, but once that phase is over, you may just emerge as the butterfly you always wanted to be.
3. It’s hard to be truly individual.
One of the hardest things for us, as social creatures, is dealing with loneliness. For this reason, most people go with the crowd. It’s the path of least resistance and it guarantees that you’ll never have to face life alone. Difference frightens people and it makes them feel threatened. As if by being different to someone, you’re implying that you’re in some way better than them.
Herd mentality, however, has been responsible for nearly all of the greatest monstrosities and cruelties the human race has inflicted, on its own members, and on the planet as a whole. It’s individuals who are responsible for the greatest achievements in history and the things which we’re proud of as a race. Those individuals always had to carve their own paths. They had to have confidence in their difference and separateness from the crowd.
In the Tarot, there’s a wonderful card called The Hermit. Let’s forget for a moment the truth or untruth of the Tarot’s divinatory capabilities, and look at it only as a collection of archetypal symbols associated with the human experience. The Hermit shows a man moving forward in the dark with a lamp held up and his eyes closed.
This symbolizes the part of the human journey where a person truly has to go into themselves and be guided by nothing but the light of their own inner knowledge, gained in solitude and darkness. For those who need to go it alone, this is a wonderful symbol and a comforting one. It shows that solitude is an integral part of the journey to finding yourself.
Go after what you want. Remember that life is short. Remember that this may be it.
Have you lost people on the way to finding yourself? Share your experiences with us.
By Carolina J.