"Know Thyself"

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Have you ever noticed that so much in society hinges on the divide of "being yourself" vs. "pretending"? There are endless iterations about being true to who you are, being your most authentic self, etc., presented as the solutions to the majority of our lives' problems.

However, before we can embark on this mission of self-assuredness, we have to know ourselves first...and that's easier said than done. Losing your personality in relationships, in your career, and all of life's other endless distractions is so easy, meanwhile, regaining it and knowing it is so hard.

It's easy to discuss the importance of being yourself, but what we don't often talk about is the importance of getting to know yourself. For people in movies, this is what happens when they have no other choice. The stereotypical gal in the big city who gets dumped and finds out it's actually the best, or the divorcee who eats, prays and loves around the world until she figures it out.

While a grandiose, personal renaissance is more appealing to the big screen, life doesn't always work out that way. In fact, I'd be willing to bet there are a lot of people who never get the opportunity to know who they are. Life has a way of shaping us all, and letting yourself be shaped by circumstance can often be the path of least resistance.

As someone who's always been on the quiet, no-fuss side of the personality spectrum, it's incredibly easy to get caught in that trap. Between friends with strong personalities and the infinite urge to be a people-pleaser I've gotten lost so many times along the way, and I still do. But it's getting better. Instead of giant revelations, knowing myself has happened in the smallest of ways. I'm spending more time considering my own opinions and ideas, and asking for what I want out of life — opposed to the person I used to be who NEVER spoke up, this is a big improvement.

I always want to maintain my agreeable nature, but agreeing for the sake of not causing friction is no longer something that fits into my life. I've found that simply stopping to consider what I want (not what I think other people want me to want!) is the best way to start. That might seem simple to some people — and it is simple — but for someone who has traditionally been more intent on keeping the peace than creating my own, that's a big revelation.

I still struggle to speak up and it's in my nature that I likely always will. Despite this, this exercise in self-awareness has allowed me to feel more empowered, more confident, and more like myself (whatever that means). As I continue to work through life (as an almost-23 year old!) I want to go with the assurance that I DO know who I am and that I know how to stay true to that person. I can't be myself if I don't know who that is, so here's to finding out as I go along!

Amanda McDowellComment