Have you ever read a story, watched a movie, or listened to someone talk about finding themselves? They hit a point in their life where they no longer feel secure in who they are, or no longer recognize themselves. Perhaps it is prior to this point they have never consciously thought deeply about who they are, where they want to go, and what they think about life. Because of this they decide to set of on an adventure. Some drop all responsibility and travel to far lands to seek guidance. Others take tests and consult psychologists, doctors, religious leaders, and search for inner peace. Then there are a few that will suppress the search and live out their life with little to no care for who they are or what they want to do.
There are positives and negatives to all of these steps. My conscious mind has not the time or power to process 7 billion (or whatever the population is now) individual lives and the positives and negatives to each of them. Hence I am going to be vague and broad. Let us start with the boxes that we like/hope to fit people into.
Myers Briggs personality test, the test that was derived Carl Jung’s book Psychological Types. The mother-daughter research duo came up with so many interesting ideas that since their publishing it has become a widespread Western test to distinguish who you “normally” are, and how people can perceive/understand you. Of course there are 4 categories with two options in each categories for a model of 16 options. Though how many people fit 16 personality types when you have billions of people in the world? This test is not the “end all, I discovered myself” test. It is a placement to help you determine some basic potentials of your behavior.
Of course it is a sliding scale. There are percentages and you can have blends but I’ll put down the 16 types so that you can see what they are. First though here are the letter types that help determine what category you fit in. I do recommend taking the test to figure out where you are now. There are many places to take the test, some free, some paid. Try this one for a free test: http://personalityjunkie.com/free-online-personality-test/
But learning about your personality is not the only thing people search for. Many times we try to “find” ourselves in other areas of life some of them internal, and some external. -As a side note, with my Christian faith I find it interesting that people are trying to “find themselves”. It is like saying you are lost, and need to be found. Interesting correlation, or so I think. – But I want to look into some of the other areas people can try finding their identity.
An atheist might tell you that any spiritual search is pointless and not worth your time. A true agnostic will give you equal advice for and against but tell you ultimately that since they don’t know you should search. However a religious person, whatever faith they have will attempt to guide your thoughts in their way. Depending on your philosophy you may view spiritual things importantly or you may see no need or desire for a search.
But what makes a spiritual person “at peace”? Why do people who have different religions, ones that even oppose each other fundamentally, share a type of peace that those who lack spiritual interest or care have? Now due to my own biases I believe true Christianity, the few who truly believe and the few who truly live it out have a peace far above any other person on the planet. Back to the question, what causes that peace? My opinion (the one you get for reading my blog) is because the people who focus on being spiritual work and focus on an aspect of life that helps establish that peace.
Why is it that so many people think the spiritual life exists? Is the majority of the world truly behind the times, not “enlightened”, and slow to understand? Or how is it that people who abandon the concept of a spiritual life seem to be slightly off from those peaceful monks, nuns, priests, and ministers of spiritual things? What gives those people that extra “peace” that an atheist tends to lack? Well from a Christian perspective I could tell you what I think and how I came to that conclusion, but that is a longer story for another time. What I will say is, if there is a spirit nature in all of us, then would it not make sense that the ones who feed it would be at more peace than the people who starve it?
In my own journey the more I dive into the beliefs I have the more I realize who I am and what I truly believe versus what I claim to believe. This is also the thing that drives me down a path that is different from my past. I am searching, I am not being told what to believe and being confined to the box of other’s direction. I am searching for answers that ring in my ears and hold true to walk of faith I can honestly follow. The search for me is mine own, what is being revealed. This search though, it is changing me. It is a search for who I am in my faith, for who I want to be, for who I want to follow, and it is an adventure of questions and learning to take them by faith. Still these are not the only ways to “find yourself”.
In the West we have the option to pursue careers. Some careers are locked out by ethnicity, income, social status, intelligence, marital status, sexual preference, and age. Yet as a society the West has offered the most options for people to pursue. A child can grow up and any dream they have of what they want to do, they can pursue. Unlike other places of being told to fit a certain role we put the pressure of the decisions of life on a small child. We ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Not everyone knows. Occasionally you pursue a career for whatever reason and once you have spent time, energy, and money you discover it is not for you. Well on the bright side if you live in the West you can go do it all over again and pursue a different career. The downside is… what do you want to do? How do you figure that out on such a short lifespan? There are people who know what they want to do, and feel called to certain careers. But not everyone experiences that.
In a world that determines your worth by what you do and how well you do it, some people feel as if their career is everything. So they search for themselves in their jobs and careers. They search, and search, some find purpose, others find discontentment and feel like they have “lost” themselves. Where people question where they are, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. What can we say? There is evidence that you learn about who you are and what you like from your experience in your careers. It is part of the search.
Marriage and family is a search for one’s self. Don’t believe me? How many singles act like they won’t be complete till marriage? How many of them are searching because they just “need” to find that person. Sometimes people act as if true life doesn’t start till marriage. As if it needs to happen to “find” yourself, to experience life, and live. What a lie. What a deception that we fall head over heels for. Marriage… while it is a wonderful thing if you place it above all else then your idol of marital status will be your downfall.
Perhaps it is even further down the line, your life revolves around your kids. You try to “find” yourself in your kids. Spending your money, time, effort, raising them and then they move out and… who are you? What is your purpose then? Can you put that pressure on your kids, to make them feel that mommy or daddy’s self is determined and found in them?
On the other hand many people have conflicts with spouses, kids, etc. They separate and destroy families, because their “dreams”, their “calling”, they need to “find” themselves. That is why you should be careful basing your feelings and adventure of “finding yourself” in your family. Once committed, your calling and purpose need to be lined up with the life commitments and responsibilities you have chosen. This leads me into the next few issues.
Personal experience has taught me the drastic truth of change. Who you are now is different that who you were when you were 6, 10, 16, 20, etc. In the short years of my life the last four have swung me around like none other. The last two have shaped me to be someone I would not believe to be me had I seen the future. I’ve changed so much and yet stayed the same in many areas. My ethical choices are different, my political views are different, my faith is different, my relationship goals are different, my dreams are different. To think that it would change so fast, and so drastically…
Experience is the big game changer. How can you know the environment of life, where to go, what to do, and how to do it without experience? When you encounter people who deal with an issue you have never dealt with and you work with them, will your stance on some issues change?
When your friends deal with racism and discrimination will you realize how you need to stand up with them and call out the injustice? When your friends deal with exclusion from others for their gender and/or sexual preference will you rise above your preconceived judgements and call for love, compassion, and mercy to show people love? How about that young girl who doesn’t know what to do and considers an abortion because she is considered an outcast for her actions? When you see the minorities, the poor, the hungry, the depressed, the hurting, would you not look at your previous conceptions of them and change them to match reality and let compassion grow in your heart? Would we not then change accordingly?
Life is a game of experiences. You can learn and things happen. You go through life. Being conceived, born, raised by someone, and treated a particular way you developed your perspective of life. Each perspective has it’s preconceptions that are true, and flawed. Will you learn from it or not? Each year you will change. It may be slight, it may be fast, but it will happen.
All this takes place in growth. Imagine if the ideas, goals, dreams, desires, and experience you had stayed the same from the age of 12 on. Would you be the same as you are now or are you already different?
In short I have opened my eyes to the obvious truth that time changes us. To be more specific it can drastically change us. You can switch your Myers-Briggs personality in a short period. Preferences you once had can change, your goals can change, you can alter your beliefs, change your marriage/family desires, and change careers/jobs/hobbies. Time it is a brutal punk bent on changing you.
Hence I suggest these few steps as ideas to keep a basic tab on who you think you are.
- Make time to process your life.
- Go somewhere quiet, write stuff down, talk to someone one on one, just process what is going on.
- Ask deep questions and always bring up old questions to see if you still have the same view.
- Challenge yourself to understand your views, beliefs, desires, etc. Make an effort to know yourself well enough to answer questions.
- Don’t be afraid of change, do not fear not knowing currently, but do fear purposeful ignorance.
- Take a Personality test(s) at least once a year, especially after major events that take place in a particular year.
- Take the Myers-Briggs test
- Take Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages” test
- Review your doctrine, catechism, and aspects of your faith
- Write down your goals short term, and long term, then compare them to previous years
All these steps can help you keep an eye on who you are becoming. Trust me, I’ve seen drastic changes in people over time, myself included. Two years has changed me in many, many ways. People who once knew me might not recognize the person I have become. Seventeen year old me would not.
Keep vigilante! Know who you are, and what you stand for!
For it is better to be an honest heretic than a lying hypocrite.