Finding Yourself

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Finding Yourself
Sofyani T. ('21)

Concrete and practical advice as well as secrets uncovered to launch you on your journey of self-discovery.

I believe there are two kinds of people in this world—the people who seem to have it all figured out, who have found their passions and are sure of their next steps, and those who don’t: who are lost, wandering around and unsure of themselves, like I am. For those who are lost, I want to tell you that it’s okay to be lost. It’s okay to not know what you want to do. 

As a senior in high school it can be pressurizing having to answer the dreaded question: “What do you want to do in the future?”. It’s such a weighted question with so many expectations. How can you expect a mere 15, 16, 17 year old, or anyone for that matter, to know what they want to do with their life? Some of us just don’t know! I have pondered the question countless times but honestly, it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. It only gave me a pounding migraine and I was left feeling miserable. While the question you should ask yourself is what your passions are, I understand that for some of us we haven’t found our passions yet. However, I think that one of the reasons why so many teenagers struggle with finding their passions is because they have major misconceptions about it. That your hobbies and passions are the same. Although your hobby can turn into a passion, your hobby is not the same as your passion. Passion is anything you do that stimulates you, intrigues you, motivates you and challenges you to push yourself and learn. You are willing to sacrifice your leisure time for this. Passion is a deeper feeling that comes from your gut. A hobby is something you have a genuine interest in but aren’t always deeply attached to it. When you are passionate about something, you get fully immersed in it; you can spend hours doing it and not realize how much time has passed by. This is the real meaning of a passion. 

Third Door (2018) by Alex Banayan is a truly inspiring and amazing book about an 18-year-old’s wild quest of interviewing many of the world’s most successful people to discover what it takes to get to the top. I highly recommend this book. It is really eye opening and will change your perspective on life. The author is also the most authentic person I have talked to before; he gives the most concrete life advice. One of them is the 30 day challenge. Basically, you commit yourself to spending at least 5 mins everyday for 30 days journaling about these three questions at the same time everyday:

1) What filled me with enthusiasm today? 

2) What drained me of energy today?

3) What did I learn about myself today?  

It can be a small or big discovery about yourself, but it will help you develop a deeper awareness and understanding about your thoughts. You need to make a conscious and consistent effort to make the most out of it. It will be challenging but don’t skip a single day. Only then will you begin to learn more about yourself. You never know what revelations you’ll have, whether that will be realizing your strengths, areas of growth, or your passions. 

You can also try and recall activities or games you used to play during your childhood. What used to engross you because you enjoyed it so much? What used to incite your curiosity and urge you to learn more about it? Of course your passions can change as you grow older, but oftentimes, what you enjoyed as a kid remains as your passion. 

The last piece of advice comes from the book Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson. He suggests asking yourself: 

How are you intelligent? How do you uniquely experience the world?

I’m not just talking about the 5 senses or the intelligence we equate with only academic intelligence. There is a diverse range of intelligences we barely talk enough about: your linguistic, mathematical, musical, rhythmic, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal (relationships with others), and intrapersonal (knowledge and understanding of one’s self) intelligence. All of these are equally important, but society does not treat them with equal value. There is a hierarchy among these kinds of intelligences, with academic intelligence being the top. Regardless, every person can have multiple kinds of intelligence and this is what makes each of us unique. You need to become aware of all these intelligences and embrace them. It is when you start to see your passions align with your talents or strengths as a person, that things start to click. This is when you find yourself in your Element, as according to Mr.Robinson. This is obviously not going to happen overnight, you're going to need lots of patience and dedication, because it will be a journey about self-discovery by focusing on firstly, what excites you and secondly, your strengths — including asking yourself how are you intelligent? 

However, sometimes if you have done that all and are still lost, it could be because two essential elements: a mentor and your tribe, are missing in your life. In the Element, Sir Ken Robinson emphasizes finding a mentor is crucial because they will be the one to guide, support, and help you realize your potential, or set up the right conditions for you to flourish. Your tribe is your community of people who share your passion, who will inspire you and motivate you to do your best and keep learning. When you are surrounded by like-minded people, your passions will follow you easily and you will thrive. 

Oftentimes, though, we are afraid to express our true selves because our passions feel ‘unrealistic’ as professions. This is especially true if you want to pursue anything in the creative arts or entertainment industry such as singing, dancing, or acting, professionally. However, for you to be happy your passion doesn’t need to be your profession. Most of us are simply not in the right financial position to do so. But let me tell you a secret: you can become an amaetur (latin for ‘for the love of’), meaning you pursue your passions without getting paid for it. The term amaetur, however, is seen as inferior to professionals because there is this misconception that they aren’t as serious as professionals. Still, many amateurs are just as serious, and can sometimes be even better. You can still pursue your passion seriously as an amateur alongside whatever your profession might be, without having to worry about making money out of it. One example is Khaled Hossini, an Afghan American author, who got a medical degree and practiced medicine for 10 years but he also had a passion for writing. So he wrote The Kite Runner which by 2005 had become number one best seller in the United States. This goes to show that you mustn't feel boxed into sticking to one passion, but that it is perfectly normal and helpful to have multiple passions. 

However, often the one thing holding people back from pursuing their passions and unleashing themselves fully even if they are actually financially able to, comes from fear and self-doubt. Yet once you face that fear head on and change what you believe is possible, you will be the happiest version of yourself. You need to prioritize your passion, be resilient, and enjoy the small steps you take towards your big goal or dream. 

I would like to leave you with this: this journey to find your Element, where your talents and strengths meet your passions, is the key to your happiness and finding utmost fulfillment and meaning in your life. But it is going to take time and you don't need to figure it all out before college. There is no need for urgency. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself thinking about the future or your ‘ideal career path’. Focus on the present. Make the most of the now. Do the 30 day challenge. Observe yourself and develop a deeper sense of self-awareness. Seems unrelated, but be passionate about learning because we all have an innate desire within us to be curious and learn. Learn for the joy of it, with enthusiasm and positivity. Then you will naturally find your Element and your future might become clearer.

 

 

Notable quotes from the aforementioned books: 

“You have a choice,” Dan said. “You can be good at those twenty-five things or you can be world-class at the five. Most people have so many things they want to do that they never do a single thing well. If I’ve learned one thing from Mr. Buffett, it’s that the Avoidance List is the secret to being world-class. “Success,” he added, “is a result of prioritizing your desires.”

― Alex Banayan, The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World's Most Successful People Launched Their Careers

 

“While you can give someone all the best knowledge and tools in the world, sometimes their life can still feel stuck. But if you can change what someone believes is possible, their life will never be the same.”

― Alex Banayan, The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World's Most Successful People Launched Their Careers

 

“The Element is about discovering yourself, and you can't do this if you're trapped in a compulsion to conform. You can't be yourself in a swarm.”

― Sir Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

 

“When people are in their Element, they connect with something fundamental to their sense of identity, purpose, and well-being.”

― Sir Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

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