Asking yourself “Who am I?” might be the hardest question you’ve ever had to consider. Discovering who you are is critical to achieving goals, being happy, and much more.
You are a unique individual and no one is better equipped to understand you than you.
That also means there is no one quite like you, so it’s important to focus on who you are (and aren’t) instead of comparing yourself to others.
It’s also critical to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re honest with yourself, it’ll be easier to figure what you’re good at and where you still have some room to grow, which is key to discovering who you are.
Discovering who you are can feel like a tall order. Don’t worry, self-discovery doesn’t come naturally to many of us, and takes years of reflection and patience.
There are many reasons why self-discovery isn’t easy. First and foremost, we are complicated individuals made up of our conscious and subconscious thoughts, desires, and emotions.
In addition to that, every experience we have influences who we are. This also means that we are always changing and shifting in response to our experiences. With that in mind, discovering who you are is a lifelong journey.
In our fast-paced society, it can be easy to look for instant gratification and quick answers. Unfortunately, that’s why self-discovery is so difficult—it takes patience and self-reflection.
Even though the journey won’t be simple, it helps to know where to start.
Now that you’re ready to discover who you are, start by thinking about your identity.
In the simplest terms, your identity is the characteristics and traits that make you unique. The possibilities for the characteristics and traits that define you are endless.
If you are feeling a little stuck, try to break some of them down into categories. After you pick out a few categories, list the traits that describe you and see how all of that adds up to form your identity! If you’re having trouble coming up with categories here are a few places to consider starting:
Your personality makes up a large part of your identity. Of course, your personality is affected by a lot of the same things as your identity, but there are definitely some traits you can pinpoint. For example, are you the class clown? Or do you prefer to take life a little more seriously?
Looking for personality traits you have will help you discover who you are. If it’s tough for you to define your personality off the top of your head, consider starting with talking to your friends and family. They can point out the personality traits you might not even be conscious of.
Remember to be honest with yourself, though. Don’t try to force yourself to be someone you aren’t. For example, if you aren’t the most selfless person in the world, that’s okay.
We all have areas where there is room for growth, but there is no need to stress about conforming to your ideal identity.
Your cultural identity is an important part of who you are. Think about where you come from and what traditions have shaped who you are.
How your interests and personality traits might be affected by your cultural heritage is a great place to start on your journey to self-discovery. Even traditions within your own family are a part of your personal culture.
If you don’t have a strong connection to your cultural identity, that can be a part of your discovery. It’s never too late to tap into your roots. Do some research by talking to your family or even searching on the internet to learn more broadly about your culture.
Your values also play a big role in understanding your identity. Since they make up your moral code, your values affect the decisions you make, the experiences you have, and how you interact with others.
All three of these factors have a substantial impact on the formation of your identity. Really take time to consider what your own personal values are and how they affect your identity.
Your religious background likely has an influence on you as well. Your belief in God, or some other higher power, probably informs your perception of who you are and your role in life.
It’s important to dig deep in every aspect of your life. Each time I set goals, I take time to ponder on the meaning of not only my life, but life and existence in general. My faith informs my personal identity a great deal.
Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, you do yourself a disservice if you don’t take spirituality into account when finding out who you are.
What you like to do also affects your identity.
Think about when someone asks you to tell them about yourself. You might tell them what sports you enjoy, your favorite music or books, or other hobbies you have.
The easiest way to describe ourselves is listing what we like, but remember that your interests are not the core of who you are.
That being said, it may be helpful to think about how your passions and interests define you and how that affects the rest of your identity. If you’re someone who enjoys playing sports, you might have a competitive spirit. If you’re happiest when in your garden, it’s possible that you have naturally nurturing tendencies.
Be sure to pay attention to why you enjoy doing these things, as that can point to the deeper truths about your identity that your interests represent.
If you want to dig deeper into your identity there are a lot of online personality tests and other other resources you can try out.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test can give you some insight into who you are. It’s a long personality test designed to help you uncover your dominant personality traits.
For example, the first part of you typology will be an “I” for “introvert” or an “E” for extrovert. Of course, only you can decide for yourself who you are, but this test can help you get an objective view of your personality traits and tendencies.
Discovering who you are is important in many ways. Self-discovery will help you unlock the best parts of yourself, and also figure out which areas need some work.
Knowing yourself also helps you be compassionate towards others. If you understand that you are a unique person, it’s easier to understand and accept that truth about those around you. This could lead to a greater degree of empathy and better communication with the other people in your life.
Understanding yourself better can also help you figure out the best opportunities for you in your personal life, as well as in your career.
Knowing yourself and your interests guides all of your decisions.
Now that you have the tools to start your journey to self-discovery, the path should be a little clearer. Just remember to always stay true to yourself and never try to be someone you’re not.
Consider your identity, use other resources, and always be open to growth.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.