August 17, 2015

How to Find Yourself if You're Lost

Life goes by in a flash. From birth to now (wherever we happen to be along life's merry way), we've changed so much. But sometimes I think that who we start out as in the very beginning is who we truly are.

But who is that exactly? Would you recognize that person if you saw him or her walking down the street? Do you ever feel like you've lost yourself? It's something I struggle with some of the time. I find myself doing or saying something and thinking "who is this person with my body and voice?"

If you're feeling like you've lost yourself because you aren't sure who you are anymore, maybe it's time for some soul searching. But just where to look? Here are a few places I recommend.

1) Old journals. 

Sometimes the way we bare our hearts and souls in years passed when we are going through struggles and experiencing things we might look back and think are silly, it can be a window into who we really are. I started my first journal in the first grade and haven't looked back since. Even though many of the entries over the year are cringe-worthy, they help paint for me a picture of the person I've always been.

2) Letters from friends.

I don't know about you but I'm a saver of letters. Especially now in the digital age. It's so special to me to look back through cards and letters from grandparents and people in my life who are no longer here on earth.

Sometimes the people in life who love us the most are the ones who see us the most clearly. Look for yourself in their words and sentiments. You will find something good.
3) Drawings we did of ourselves as a child (or drawings done of you by a child).

We pile so much crap on ourselves that it can be hard to look at our reflection with loving eyes. If we go back to somebody who is looking at us with the most loving eyes, they may be the one seeing our truest self.

4) In the mirror first thing in the morning. 

I'm talking about when you still have that little fog of sleepiness hanging over you and just glance at yourself in the mirror after waking up. So many times I stumble to the bathroom in the morning and catch a look at myself, all rumpled and frizzy hair.

And I often catch a glimpse at my 8-year old self. I see the same eyes looking back at me. I see that same earnestness and hopefulness about the future as well as possibility. There's no reason we can't still have that same feeling of possibility.

It's the world and the lies we've believed that caused us to think that anything is not possible.

5) Toys and games from childhood. 

Recently, I went down into my basement and ran across a plastic bin of Barbie dolls from when I was a kid.

Think about your childhood.

What was something you did as a kid that brought you the most amount of joy? Maybe your thing was playing with Barbies or maybe it was putting together puzzles. Maybe it was coloring or pretending you owned a store or running a cash register or playing like you had a restaurant.

I'm not saying that if you played restaurant as a child, you should start a restaurant now. But think back to the things that brought you the joy in those experiences and look for ways now that you can recreate those experiences and feelings.

The reason I loved the Barbies is because they let me create worlds and stories and characters and adventures in people's lives when my own life didn't have a whole lot of adventure to speak of.

And I think that it's still a big part of why I feel the calling and passion in my heart to be a writer. Because I want to create those stories and tell them so other people can relate to them and feel encouraged.

6) Look at the mischief you made. 

Picture a time in your childhood when you got in trouble or were a little bit mischievous. There's always a driving force in those things...unless you were just a mean child (which I doubt).

I remember one time as a child, I wanted to move some furniture in my bedroom and my mom said she would help me later, but I didn't want to wait for her so I decided to try and do it by myself.

I ended up breaking a china tea set because I pushed a table and everything just kind of went flying. And my mom was upset with me, but looking back I feel like I was so independent. I wanted so badly to do it by myself. I wanted to take care of things on my own and I still see that in me today.

I still see that independence and that feeling of wanting to do it my way. But there's a way I can harness that for good so that I don't just go around breaking things and upsetting people.

If only finding ourselves was done with the aid of a giant treasure map, "X" marks the spot. But it's a process more delicate and complicated than that.

Author Lucy Maude Montgomery said is best: “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” If you've been feeling lost, I hope you can spend some time remembering soon.