So you are stuck at home like the rest of the world and are probably aching to go out like you used to. Sadly, things are not going to go back to how they were anytime soon, so we might as well make the best of it, right? No, I am not going to get all preachy on you. Just to be clear, I am not pushing the “make the most of your free time by learning something new” aka be productive cliché that most people are endorsing these days. Times are tough enough without that kind of pressure. No, what I am talking about is something far more important than career and self-improvement. It’s the glaringly obvious yet widely overlooked move of getting to know who you are.
Think about it: when was the last time you had an honest conversation with yourself? If you think you know who you are, well, all I can ask you is, “Which version of you do you know?” Aren’t we all mentally changing, even if only a little, from month to month and year to year?
Before you think I am some spiritually evolved being, I will be the first to declare that I am far from it. This realization only hit me earlier today, while I was having a rather leisurely cup of coffee. The thought that it’s been a while since I have connected with the latest version of myself entered my head by itself. It was probably due to my mind being less occupied than usual. Even though I do not subscribe to insidious hustle culture, my pre-Coronavirus lockdown life was much busier than I would like it to be.
Call it a side effect of living in a modern, dizzyingly fast-paced world, but I typically get to know a new aspect of myself only because of some adverse situation. You have experienced this too – I am sure of it. I for one think you and I deserve to know ourselves in an organic manner. On purpose instead of by accident.
How do I plan to find myself? By tuning out the chaos in the world with the one thing that makes me feel alive: writing. I am going to spend some quality time writing in my diary. Basically, I intend to be honest with myself to know quintessential stuff like how I am feeling, if I am doing something inauthentic just to fit in, whether I have some new issues or aspirations that I need to explore, etc. Most importantly, I will grieve instead of being positive because “the new normal” is horrific.
It will get messy, but it will be worth it. Come to think of it, quarantine or no quarantine, we are all we have every second of every day. It would be a shame to not get to know our changing selves, to not unravel desires that we have suppressed subconsciously due to social conditioning. Let’s use this time to be aware of and connect with the person we are right now. Life will go back to normal once a cure is found and we will become busier than ever to make up for all the lost time.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a once in a lifetime kind of situation. And while that’s great news, most of us will probably never get this slower pace of life to meet our true selves. Not until we are grey and old, anyway. Retirement age should be spent in happy reminiscence, but how many old people do you know who don’t regret their life choices?
According to Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse, not being true to themselves is one of the top five regrets of the dying.
And that is heartbreaking. So for the love of whatever higher power you believe in, figure out a way to find who you are as a person *today*. For example, if you are a movie buff, watch one of your favorite movies. Then, ask yourself why you love it so much: does the worldview of some character match yours? Does the imperfect ending satisfy you because it is true to life? You can even do the same kind of introspection with a movie you absolutely hate, though that might be a tad too difficult to execute. The idea is to pick something you like and then creatively use it as a tool to find yourself.
I hope I have convinced you to take up this ‘know thyself’ challenge. It might not be as appealing as stepping out without fear, haste, and a mask, but I promise it will not be half as mind-numbing as binge-watching.