How to (Really) Get to Know Yourself

Before this year, I don’t think I really knew who I was.

Not for any particular reason, but just because I’d never stopped to think about who I am and what makes me, me. I think I’d just gone along with life, with the idea that it’s something that happens to you, rather than something that’s in your control.

After a challenging 2018, I decided 2019 would be a year of growth, and that meant focusing on myself for the first time. I’ve pushed myself to try and do new things, as well as change and/or embrace things all in pursuit of learning more about myself and creating a fulfilling life.

This period of learning who I am has brought about huge change in my life, my attitude, my confidence and my creativity. It’s been an important time in my life so I want to encourage you to take a look at yourself and start to really get to know who you are and what you’re capable of.

You don’t have to be unhappy to start this journey. But it could lead to a lot more happiness – and that’s always worth the effort, right?

As we’re heading towards the end of my year of ‘self discovery’ (and one that I now think I’ll be working on for the rest of my life), I wanted to share some of the things that you could give a go, to try and understand more about yourself and how to get what you want from life.

Embrace vulnerability

I’ve put this one first because I think it’s the most important. When you’re assessing things in your life, making changes and trying new things, you have to get comfortable with feeling vulnerable.

Any time you try to reach outside your comfort zone has the potential to be scary, but one of the biggest things that has supported all of the other things I have done is: I’m open to feeling vulnerable. I’m open to putting myself out there.

It wasn’t easy to start with, but, I promise, the more you do it, the less scary it gets and you’ll start to realign vulnerability with growth.

If you want more advice on accepting and harnessing your vulnerability, then you definitely need to take a look at Brené Brown’s books and work. In fact, you should do it anyway – she’s great!

Read widely

I’m an absolute sucker for a good self-help book, there’s something about the format, the ideas and the introspection that I love and find so interesting. Anything that dives into the human psyche and condition has me hooked!

You don’t need to go down the self-help route if that’s not your thing, but I would recommend reading from a variety of different voices. Learning from the knowledge and experience of others is a great way to get a different perspective on yourself and your own life.

Whether it’s authors sharing their stories of health struggles, family dynamics, life-changing events or years of dedicated research, there’s so much wisdom to soak up from others that can impact how we decide to live our lives. I’m happy to share some recommendations if you’d like!

Visit new places

You definitely don’t have to travel the world to see things from a different perspective. However, I would highly recommend visiting somewhere, old or new, on your own.

Learning how to navigate a space by yourself, and feel comfortable doing so, is a great way to boost confidence and get to know who you are when you’re actively doing something by yourself. It’s a liberating feeling knowing you can do what you want, when you want and that you’re capable of doing those things alone.

Tick something off your to do list

If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to do, or have been putting off trying for a long time, now is the time to do it. There’s so many reasons that people can be afraid to try something and come up with excuses for why they can’t do it, but you’ll always feel better for knowing you tried – and who knows, it could end up being a great new hobby?

For me, I put off starting a blog for years and years. I thought I had nothing to say, no one would read it and that it would be pointless to start. But I always longed to find some form of creative outlet for myself, hoping it would just drop into my lap. Eventually (and finally!) I got bored of making the same old excuses, started my blog and, well, here we are! I love running this little corner of the internet, and I feel genuinely motivated and inspired to regularly write now.

Don’t hold yourself back. Try that thing you’ve always wanted to do – even if it’s just to say you did it!

Say yes to more things

It’s easier said than done, but if you really want to commit to getting to know who you are then you’re gonna have to be at least a little bit brave!

Meet someone new for a coffee, sign up to do a class or join a friend on a fun adventure. Be open to giving new, interesting things a go and see how you respond to them. I like trying new things to see how I behave in different situations, to learn from them and perhaps widen my interests into things I may not have considered before. It’s been said a million times before, but, you don’t know until you try.

Start saying no

If you’re a bit of a people-pleaser like me, then saying no can be difficult. But part of getting to know yourself is about understanding your boundaries and learning how to move through potentially uncomfortable chats.

If something doesn’t feel right, make you happy or is asking more of you than you’re able to give (whether that’s time, money or effort) then it’s okay to say no.

Obviously, it’s important and beneficial to be brave in certain circumstances and not just say no because you’re anxious, but it’s as important to recognise when you’re stretching yourself thin or feeling a pressure to do something that doesn’t fit in with who you are or who you want to be.

Reach out and meet new people

A chance to be brave, embrace your vulnerabilities and do something new all in one!

Before this year, the idea of meeting up with someone new would have given me major anxiety. But, by spending more time getting to know myself and what I am capable of, I’ve been way more comfortable in sharing who I am with other people. I now really enjoy meeting new people – it’s a great way to learn new things, have new experiences and find out more about yourself too!

Whether it’s reaching out to someone in your community, working on a creative project with someone or just deciding to spend some more time with someone you find interesting, there’s so much that can be learned from new relationships.

Think about your goals

As you start reviewing and changing things in your life, it’s a good time to think about what you want to achieve or things that you’d like to do. They don’t have to be career related or huge life defining moments – they could be goals that are just important to your own life and wellbeing. For example, you could plan to visit a new country, sign up to a workshop, or prioritise your mental health.

Whatever they are, by recognising your goals you can make sure that you’re taking steps (however big or small) to achieve them. But it starts with making that list!

Be kind to yourself

As I hit month 9 of trying to do new things and take in as much information about myself and the world around me that I could, I started to feel a bit fatigued. Although building momentum can be great motivation to keep moving, it can also start to feel a bit like a runaway truck.

Remember that you don’t need to change everything at once. You don’t need to try everything. Getting to know yourself, your interests and your capabilities is a process – and a lifelong one at that. If you need to take a break or slow down, that’s also okay. We’re looking for positive, sustainable change – not change for the sake of it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these tips and that you’ve found them useful. If you’ve got any of your own experiences or advice, please do share in the comments! I’m always open to new ideas.

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