As I was walking around San Francisco a week ago, I finally understood the expression “finding yourself.”
No, I did not find myself in San Francisco, but rather found that I had found myself a long time ago.
I was thinking about friends of mine who have periodically gone through phases: vegetarianism, a hipster fashion sense, deferred degrees, a yo-yoing career plan, etc. I was in the middle of laughing at them for hopping between seemingly out-of-the-blue passions with immense enthusiasm when I realized that they were just “finding themselves!” Their behavior had always struck me as false until that moment, when all of a sudden their behavior was simply reflective of their obscurity with respect to who they were.
At first glance, my situation is very comparable–for certain periods of time I commit to a new activity or interest, and I’m unsure where I’ll end up in life–but ultimately, I am very clear about certain core personality traits and values of mine. And I think that many people are either still searching for such clarity or continued searching after I had stopped.
I’m not saying any of this to brag, as my situation is not better than anyone else’s, just explaining why it took me so long to understand the expression. Now that I understand it, I expect to be a more understanding person. Who am I to expect someone to have found himself by now?
In fact, life is the pursuit of finding oneself, but for the sake of sanity, that process decelerates at a certain point for most people. I may have found most of myself, but there’s still a lot left to find, and I may find that I’ve lost what I found and have to find it anew.
Did you follow that?
I’ve written about this before, but over the past 2 years I keep having moments of realizing, “Why wasn’t I just confident enough to have accepted my differences?” I have never been characterized by bowing to peer pressure, but I’ve always felt some anxiety over my individualism. I haven’t always owned it, and still don’t. I guess maybe that’s a very human thing, but I’d like to get to the point where I accept that I’m not always going to want to do what everyone else is doing and vice versa. Right now I only accept that theoretically and intermittently.