To be alone and have it feel like home. To remember what your childhood hopes and dreams were. To find something extremely familiar in the stripping away of the walls you’ve been building up for years. This is what it means to return to yourself
There are societal standards to uphold, cultural norms and responsibilities and a media industry that makes a profit off of our self-doubt and fears. To return to yourself can be more difficult and confusing than it sounds. “Wasn’t I always me? Why is becoming me so hard?” It’s hard because life asks a lot of us.
Since we develop consciousness of ourselves and the world around us over time, the process of returning to yourself comes at a later point in life. And it usually only happens if you put in the “conscious” work to question a lot of the patterns we repeat every day.
I call these five “consequences” of returning to who you are because the word consequence is usually assumed to be negative, when in fact, its definition is neutral. A consequence is “a result or effect of an action or condition.”
These five consequences can be uncomfortable at first, then extremely gratifying when you realize how much power you hold just as you are. But the eventual return to yourself is stripped of extreme emotion. It doesn’t have judgement or an ego. It is a space that you’ve made your home.
If you’re experiencing any of these five things in your life, you are in the process of becoming who you are truly meant to be. If you haven’t gone through any of them, then try testing them out one at a time.
You’ll start seeing beauty in a lot of small, seemingly insignificant things.
The older man helping a mother of two carry her stroller up the subway steps. The way dogs greet each other when they’re let off-leash in the park on an early Monday morning. The first hints of spring and how they can change an entire city’s mood. These small interactions and vibrations that reverberate throughout our world will be much more noticeable to you. In coming back to who you truly are, you’re actually much less concerned with who you are! Isn’t that funny? You’re able to be present in the here and now, as insecurities and anxieties fall away.
Your validation-seeking patterns diminish.
Asking others if they think you’re skinny enough, what you should do with the next step in your career, if what you said was nice enough: this is seeking other people’s opinions because you aren’t confident in your own. And that’s common. But to strip away the stuff that isn’t you, you’re going to have to get comfortable with answering your own questions.
This doesn’t mean that you should stop asking for advice all together - another person’s perspective is often important. But to go down a road paved entirely by someone else will lead you farther from who you really are. When you stop looking to social media or an authority figure to solve a problem, that’s when you begin the process of living the life that was meant for you.
You’ll begin to realize that you are worthy of other people’s time and energy.
When you start the process of coming back to yourself, it will become clear that you’ve inconvenienced yourself many times so that other people can feel comfortable. And this can be a harsh reality to take in. You haven’t asked for a raise because you don’t want to put stress on the company you work for. You haven’t told a friend what he said was hurtful because you don’t want to upset him. You haven’t told your partner she needs to spend time washing the dishes because you want to seem capable of doing it all.
You have taken on burdens and chores and other people’s choices because you thought that living a quiet life is a good life. You thought that to inconvenience someone else would be THE WORST outcome. But the truth is - when you carve out a boundary around yourself, most of the people in your life will acknowledge and respect it.
You’ll stop operating from a mindset of “lack.”
I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough experience. I don’t have enough love. Enough friends. Enough clothes. Enough status. ENOUGH. We live in an EXTREMELY consumer-focused society. The physical stuff, the titles, the reputations - there are so many boxes to check. When you’ve gone out searching for more, have you ever returned completely satisfied? Are you ever done ticking off those boxes?
But when you begin to come back to who you truly are, you feel fulfilled with what you do have - because you realize that the hunt is made up. It’s external. And it won’t end unless you end it yourself.
You’ll find that taking things slow and being present outweighs anything you could have gained from speed.
We live in a culture that values speed and efficiency. We’ve turned my favorite morning ritual of home-brewed coffee into a plastic-encased, button-pressing, machine-operated experience.
“Isn’t there something I should be analyzing, picking apart, FIXING!!! right now?” your mind will say to you, over and over.
When you get into this mindset of running like a machine, from meeting to meeting, or event to event, there is no room for reflection or being present in the current state. When you begin to return to yourself, you will trim some of the things you perceived as necessary obligations.
You’ll simplify because you have realized that adding up all of this responsibility and commitment was to create the facade of a padded life resume. It is so much easier to add accolades and goals and chunks of busy time onto a calendar than to stop and look at yourself.