Who Are You?

Featured Illustration: Caitlin B.

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This is a question we’ve had to answer at some point in our lives. For many of us, we are quick to reel out any possible information we know about ourselves to who is asking. As this a very personal question, given the circumstances and the persons involved, our answers tend to differ. However, the question “Who are you?” here is not your name, where you’re from, your social status or any other thing you’ve been made to think is the right response. Rather, I am asking who you are when all these things are absent.

“The only true happiness lies in knowing who you are.” –Laurell K. Hamilton 

Many of us struggle with our identities, social expectations, strict behavioral patterns, and many more in our search for ourselves and our identity. There is this constant need to find out who we really are and until that is discovered, the journey remains messy and tiring. Knowing who you are eliminates the baggage that comes with an identity crisis. It’s like unlocking a hidden treasure to behold the beauty that lies within. As Laurell says, true happiness lies in this treasure beneath. Many of us are holding onto weak pillars and people so we can evade the problems this search for the self brings, but how long will that be?

Picture this.

You’re stuck in a maze looking for something which lies at the end of that maze. Yes, you’re going to face a lot of challenges, you’re going to be distressed, you might even cry, you might have a breakdown on the way, but when you get to the end of that maze and find what you’ve been looking for, none of those challenges will matter anymore. The same applies to finding yourself and your purpose. It’s like trying to get through a hideous maze and when you find yourself, there is this sudden peace and happiness that overwhelms you which drowns the pain and suffering you once felt. Finding yourself isn’t going to be an easy journey, but it will be worth it.

Anne Lamott’s words strike me as she shares her story and struggles with finding herself: “Wherever the great dilemma exists is where the great growth is too.” When life stops hitting you with crises and obstacles, it is probably time for a life-changing experience. In my teenage journey, there have been times when I’ve had to question my existence and who I really am. At times like this, I feel very confused and frustrated, but when I remember that none of these things happening define me, that I’m bigger than all of this, those negative feelings gradually die.

“Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” -Epictetus

Realization is key in discovering who you are. Many of us fill our minds with a lot of negativity and opinions which shouldn’t really matter. The result of this is never getting to know who you are even when it’s glaring. There’s a need to constantly declutter your mind and embrace who you are. I recently watched this movie called Overcomer, directed by Alex Kendrick, and it made me search inwardly and aspire to never lose sight of who I really am. I had always seen myself as disadvantaged, as I felt the weight of my failures and shortcomings wearing me down. After the movie, I decided to deliberately drop all the negativity and accept who I really am. In the movie, we see how individuals let in a lot of things that obstruct their view as to who they are. As they begin to deal with those issues one by one, they discover who they really are. Hannah Scott starts this journey on discovering who she really is and she says this when she recognizes that person:

“I am created by God, he designed me so I’m not a mistake. His son died for me so I can just be forgiven. He picked me up to be his own so I’m chosen. He redeemed me so I’m wanted. He showed me his grace just so I can be saved. He has a future for me because he loves me. So I don’t wander anymore. I’m a child of God.” (Ephesians 1: 4-10, 2: 4-8)

For Hannah Scott, this was her moment of discovery and her freedom from everything that seemed to wad her sight of who she is. Discovering who she is made her adorn herself accordingly before her coach and others. You can be like Hannah Scott today.

“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.” -Stephen Chbosky

You have a choice. We have a choice. 

For most of us, taking a bold step to say no to things that have stopped us from reaching our full potential is quite difficult. This is because many times, people feel they don’t have a choice, and who they are is based on their present situation which is a Himalayan blunder. You have a choice to be who you are even if everything around you is screaming no. If you don’t make that choice for yourself, no one will for you. Decide that you’re going to let go of those things, take small steps, talk to yourself, pray if you can, try new things, and gradually you begin to realize who you truly are.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde

When I first saw this quote, I remembered at different stages of my life when I wanted to be somebody else. Now, that is really funny because I can’t. I’m me, I’m different and I know what I’m capable of. Everyone is trying to discover themselves and build on what they discover, so why are you so shy about being yourself? Most times, people are scared of being themselves because they will get judged or feel disappointed and many other reasons which don’t matter. Love yourself for who you are. If you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you and see you for who you are? It’s time to drop the facade and masking. Just be yourself. Be unique.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” -Dr. Seuss

As a college student, I’ve learned a lot of things as well as observed a lot of people. Many people are scared of saying how they feel because they don’t want to lose friends, or get scolded or mistreated, among many other reasons. I’ve been there, so I can relate to anyone who feels this way. But as Dr. Seuss says, if they really mind when you try to be who you are and say how you feel, then they shouldn’t matter. However, this doesn’t mean you should be rude and inconsiderate to other people’s feelings. Real people listen and help other people in finding themselves rather than shutting them down when they try to open up. 

Who are you?

You’re beautiful, you’re smart, witty, and diligent. You’ve got the abilities you need to succeed, you are strong, you are capable, you’re outstanding and blessed. You can be anything you desire to be. Stop putting a lid over that light and the you that’s seeking expression. Let go of the clog and fetters that act as limitations in finding yourself and seeing yourself for what you really are.

There is power in speaking.

Has someone ever used a phrase so much that you could complete it for them when they start saying it? That’s what I’m talking about. I want to challenge you to speak to yourself every morning when you wake up and before you go to bed at night. Remind yourself of who you are (you could say it before a mirror) — the more you hear it, the more you believe it and act on it. Be deliberate in discovering who you are. This is the key to true happiness and freedom.