Recently, for some reason, I’ve been all about self-reflection and just reflecting in general.
Maybe it’s because spring is coming, and that’s all about fresh starts and new beginnings, or maybe it’s because I’m getting (scarily) near the end of my university degree. Things are changing so fast for me and I have a lot of things to consider. Either way, I think it’s a good thing because it's making me think a lot about the person I’m becoming and the lessons it took to get me here.
FINDING OR CREATING?
I used to believe that you had to ‘find yourself’. That in order to discover who you really are, you needed to go on some sort of quest to find the true being inside of you. Now I know that it’s more of a question of ‘creating’ yourself. Sure, there are elements of your personality that are inherently you and that you may not be able to change, but overall, you get to decide who you want to be.
This can be a hard thing to understand at first as many of us are not in the position to just suddenly become this amazing person we all want to be. Some of us may not even believe that we have the capabilities to do such a giant task in the first place.
Annoyingly, learning things about yourself is something that takes time and gets easier as you grow. It’s through every experience, every mistake and every choice you make that things begin to shift in the person you are and, understandably, these things take time.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t start making a difference now, wherever you are. Every day, the decisions you make, the way you interact with others and the people you surround yourself with help shape the person you are.
‘Creating’ yourself seems like such a big task, but really it’s these little things we do every day that contribute to it.
INSPIRATION OR COMPARISON?
It’s really easy to get caught up in other people and think “why can’t I be like that?", but here’s the thing- you can be like that. You can get inspired and work on those features that you admire so much. If you want to be more productive, then work on it. If you want to be kind, then you're going to have to work on that too.
The key is to not get so focused on other people that you forget about yourself. You should always put yourself first. It sounds selfish and like something we’ve been told to never do, but it’s so important that you shift that focus onto yourself. Especially if you’re trying to work on who you are in the first place.
I personally want to become more positive. For most of my life I have been a ‘glass half empty’ kind of girl- which, for the record, is totally okay- but after a while it started to weigh down on me. I found that as I got older, being bored and unsatisfied with everything just wasn’t the done thing anymore, despite how trendy it was at school. I found myself feeling down and unable to pick myself back up again because of how negative every reaction I had was.
Being positive is something I am still striving for now but I can say that it’s gotten easier. The hardest part is realising the problems you have inside you and recognising that you need to change. That being said, starting the change is pretty difficult too! It takes a lot of patience, which is something I often lack, and self-reflection. You need to take some time out to focus on the way you react to things, on the way you behave and you need to call yourself out whenever you catch yourself doing it in a negative way.
You need to make a commitment to yourself that you’ll take this time to constantly work on building your character. This isn’t a one-time deal that’ll be over with soon. It’s something we need to work on persistently and something that will continue as long as we live.
STEPS TO TAKE
Now you've decided what kind of person you want to be and have made a commitment to work on yourself, what else is there to do?
There are various tasks that you can do, some on an almost daily basis, to tune into yourself and to keep on track with your journey, such as:
Daily Journals: Writing down your feelings, experiences and opinions on a daily basis can be a brilliant way to keep track of your progress. Carve some time out of your daily schedule, even ten minutes will do, to just write whatever comes into your head. You can take this time to reflect on the days events, to vent about an issue that is plaguing you or even just go in a stream of consciousness. Either way, it can be really beneficial to express what's going on in your head and get it down on paper.
Over time, you will start to recognise patterns in yourself, such as the way certain events make you feel, the things you like or dislike and so on and this is how your journey will progress. Once you can see what is happening, you can figure out ways to change.
Mood Boards: One of the best ways to seek out change or reach a goal is to visualise it and to make it something you can literally focus on daily. This is where mood boards come in. You can do these in multiple ways, such as the traditional paper and magazine cut-outs to online methods like Pinterest boards, but the key is to make sure the finish product is placed somewhere you will see often. Your mood board will be used as an inspirational and a motivational tool to remind you of not only what you want but also why you're doing all this work on yourself in the first place.
Fill your mood board with inspirational quotes, images and just anything that you know will spur you on and encourage you to continue on this journey of self-development.
Listening: Although listening is a key skill that we all assume we can do well, I've found that it's something we really undervalue especially when it comes to listening to ourselves.
Sure, listen to those around you to get an insight into other people's journeys, values and issues. All of this will help you realise that you aren't the only one and it may push you to work harder. But take some time to actually listen to what you want.
Listen to yourself when you try new experiences; when you're hanging out with friends; when you feel down in order to learn who you are. It's so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and to just go along with the crowd, but you need to listen to yourself to truly discover what actually makes you feel happy and what makes you feel like you're being your best self.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
Because who we are is built on the things we do, expect for change to happen within yourself. You were never meant to be just one thing; a being that can be pigeon-holed easily. We are complicated, yet wonderful people, who, once we are open to the idea of change and working hard, can only get better as time goes on.
My journey towards being a more positive person is still going strong. I struggle sometimes, as we all do, but the fact that I am trying is enough. I want to be someone who is kind and approachable; and what it comes down to is I want to be the kind of person I’d be friends with.
I have accepted who I was and who I am now, and I’m looking forward to all the changes, all the growth and all the learning that is coming my way.
Ask yourself, what do you want to be known for? What kind of person will you be? And just how hard are you going to work to get there?
You can read more about my journey to becoming positive and other self-discovery pieces over at my blog.