How to Discover Who You Truly Are

Remember that scene in the movie Anger Management? The one where Adam Sandler becomes increasingly frustrated at not being able to correctly answer the question “who are you”? Here’s a quick refresher:

Dr. Rydell: Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

Dave: Well, l am an executive assistant…at a major pet products company.

Rydell: I dont want you to tell us what you do. I want you to tell us who you are.

Dave: All right. Im a pretty good guy. I like playing tennis on occasion….

Rydell: Also, not your hobbies, Dave, just simple: Tell us who you are.

Dave: I just…. Maybe you could give me an example of what a good answer would be.

Rydell: What did you say? You want Lou to tell you who you are?

Dave: No, l just…. Im a nice, easygoing man. I might be a little bit indecisive at times.

Rydell: Dave, youre describing your personality. I want to know…who you are.  

Frustration aside, how would you answer that question? It’s a toughie, right? Who am I? Do I even know?

Here’s the deal—most of us don’t.

Woman stand up paddle boarding on a pristine mountain lake

It takes a lifetime to get to know yourself. You’re a complicated human with many nuances, experiences, opinions and quirks, and the quest for self knowledge is a never-ending project.

Rather than accepting that figuring out who you are is a slow and steady process, there are many of us who (knowingly or unknowingly) avoid the process of growth, self-knowledge and self-acceptance. We let go of our identities too easily—losing ourselves in intense relationships, compressing into busy jobs, and becoming untethered after tragedies. And that little spark of special stuff that grows inside us gets snuffed.

No matter what happens, it is important to stay in touch with yourself—who you were, who you are and who you want to become. It’s okay if you’ve lost sight a little, but now’s the time to make a concerted effort to find your way back. To get started, here are three ways to get back on track and rediscover who the heck you are underneath all that baggage.

1. Journal often.

Yes, journaling can be a pain. When your thoughts swirl out faster than your hand can manage, the result is major hand cramps! But the process of writing them out is a worthy endeavor.

Journaling allows you to take all the gunk inside your head and plop it on to paper, where it becomes tangible. Being able to see your thoughts spelled out can be a game changer. Sometimes all it takes is a little journaling to gain valuable insight or perspective. It’s like self therapy.

This is a horizontal, color photograph of woman hiking stopping to enjoy the view from Sam's Point Preserve in the Shawangunk Mountains. These mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains. Green trees fill the valley below the cliffs of the mountain ridge in upstate New York, Ulster County. Photographed with a Nikon D800 DSLR camera.

2. Push the bounds of your comfort zone.

Do you know when you learn the most about who you are? It’s when you are teetering on the very edge of your comfort zone. Go out and do things that scare you a little. It’s so good for you.

For instance, I’m taking a Shakespeare scene study workshop with a prestigious theatre company. Everyone there is an experienced actor of some form or another, except me (unless you count that one acting class I took in college…). And yet, there I am, shaking with nerves and anxiety, week after week. And I have learned SO MUCH about myself in the first few weeks alone. As much as it may suck in the moment, being uncomfortable is so important for self-growth.

3. Make fear take the back seat.

Fear will always exist, but as long as it’s not calling the shots, you’ll be fine. Allow your fear to stick around to keep you safe, but don’t let it stop you from taking risks and exiting your complacency. Tell it: thanks for being on the lookout, but I’ve got it from here.

If fear had its way, you’d stay well within your comfort zone and never dig in to find out who you really are. So don’t banish fear from your life; take its barks with a grain of salt and don’t let it hold you back from being truly YOU.

While it takes a lifetime to truly know who you are, you can continue to cultivate a deeper understanding of yourself year by year. It’s all part of the human experience, and it only get more interesting as you age. Prepare to be utterly fascinated by what you find!

Related on Care2:

61 comments

Leo C
Leo Custer13 hours ago

Thank you for posting!

SEND
danii p
danii p3 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
danii p
danii p3 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
danii p
danii p3 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Diane E
Diane E4 days ago

Stay strong and ethical. Be yourself.

SEND
Diane E
Diane E4 days ago

Thank you.

SEND
Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill4 days ago

thanks

SEND
Leanne K
Leanne K7 days ago

I know who I am, the reasoning behind my actions, why I react at certain things. It's learning about other people, why they do the things they do, is only recent. Thank you social nedia

SEND
Colin C
Colin Clauscen8 days ago

The older you get the more you get to know who and what kind of person you are. Though some folks never do I guess.

SEND
Tristan S
Tristan S8 days ago

great article, thank u

SEND