August 29, 2017

The Grown-up’s Guide to Finding Yourself.

A post shared by ecofolks (@ecofolks) on

I have no answers for you.

There is no easy answer—no one-size-fits-all secret to happiness and self-love. All we can do is keep trying, keep listening to each other, and keep taking life one day at a time.

Another school year is about to begin and part of me is asking if I’m really going back, again. The rest of me is terrified of leaving, which answers the first question.

Habit, comfort, love, and a large dose of hope are powerful forces. Settling in and getting comfortable generally have negative connotations, but sometimes, we have to settle in, we need to get comfortable, and let others get comfortable with us before the real work can begin.

It’s easy to look at adventurous souls who go on magnificent journeys and wish that we could be as brave or cool as them—or to think that our own lives are boring in comparison. But going on an adventure is not always the answer; and it’s not always feasible, especially for “grown-ups.”

Once we grow up and find ourselves with a home and a family, dropping everything to travel around the world on a soul-searching trip can be impossible—and might do more harm than good. And sometimes, leaving raises more questions than it provides answers.

Even if we figure out how to leave, sometimes we “find ourselves” right back where we started. That’s okay. It’s all okay, because no matter where you are, “you” are right there—waiting not to be found, but to be known.

I think that’s what we’re really trying to accomplish—not the finding, but the knowing.

Sometimes I feel like a failure for still being here. It sometimes seems like I should have done something bigger or better, like I failed to meet my potential, or like I’m a disappointment.

But just because my location hasn’t changed, doesn’t mean that I haven’t.

When I see pictures of myself from high school or even college, I can feel that version of myself and remember who I used to be. She seems so far away. I wonder if I’ve changed for the better—if she would like this older version of me.

I wonder if she knew some things that I’ve forgotten. Growing as a person is essential, but sometimes, we need to remember where we came from and who we were, learn from the past, and use it as a jumping point toward the future.

If we did go on one of those epic Eat, Pray, Love style trips and successfully found ourselves, what then? What about the rest of our lives? We are all a compilation of every memory and experience we’ve ever had, and every second we make more.

Even if we were to figure out the answers to the questions in our hearts, there will always be more questions to ask and to answer. Without them, we would stop growing. Without change and constant questioning, we become stagnant and life becomes monotonous.

If we find ourselves and then stay there, we are missing out on the beauty of evolution and growth. Instead, maybe we should try to embrace the fact that we are magnificently multifaceted creatures, and that we can and should change, for the better.

I wish I had an easier answer for you, or for myself actually. I don’t know where I want to be in five or 10 years, or even next year. There are things that I want to do, and I know there will be things that I have to do along the way. It’s a constant struggle to not give up and feel defeated, but I like to think that each step on our path to wherever we’re going will present itself when we’re ready to take it.

Maybe instead of trying to find ourselves, we should try to find contentment: Find a new hobby, find a friend, find a job that suits where we are in our lives. Find a way to feel like ourselves.

We don’t have to go looking for that, we will know when we feel it—not when we “find” it.

This isn’t a conclusion; it’s a continuation.

There isn’t and shouldn’t be an end to our journeys toward the best version of who we are and the best lives we can live.

Keep moving, keep being, keep growing—and, maybe, we’ll find we’ve known where to find ourselves all along.


Author: Gabriella Sweezey
Image: YouTube screenshot; @ecofolks on Instagram
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Taia Butler


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