When we’re young and going through school, most of us feel the urge to fit in with the crowd.
We don’t want to be the one unpacking the “weird” meal at the lunch table or the Goody Two-shoes refusing alcohol at the house party.
It’s understandable. Humans have evolved to place a high priority on finding, and sticking with, their group. Back in the hunter-gatherer days, we wouldn’t have survived were we alone. So, we developed this pack mentality that tells us, “Fit in or die.”
Thankfully, as we age, we are gifted with the choice to develop our minds, increase our self-awareness, and play an active role in things beginning to shift—for the better, the truer, the more peaceful, and deeply aligned.
I say “thankfully” as I do believe this choice is a gift. And yet that doesn’t mean that accepting this gift, and choosing our true selves, is easy.
For many of us, this phase starts with a feeling of discomfort. We begin to notice our jobs aren’t fulfilling us, or the people we’ve come to call our friends aren’t exactly the people we want to be spending our free time with.
Or, we may not be able to pinpoint anything specifically “wrong” but feel instead the weight of this discomfort in the form of depression, anxiety, a feeling of being lost, or even chronic physical illness.
I’ve been there, twice. And each time, it was scary. Especially the first time around when my thoughts were, “I guess this is just how life goes.” I didn’t realize at the time that the detachment I felt from my body, my life, my social circle had a name. I’d never read about depression before. I only knew that, slowly over time, life had become less joyful, and I assumed that was simply a part of becoming an adult.
Needless to say, along with my mental health, my physical health began to plummet at this point, too. Every food seemed to make me balloon out like I was 9 months pregnant and some made my whole body itch.
Looking back, the pain of this time was extensive, and yet, it was truly a blessing in disguise. I had no idea how to be self-reflective then, so my body and my mind stepped in to help me. They signalled through pain that all was not right.
I share this for anyone going through the thick of the pain right now. Though it may not feel like it, this is actually an integral part of your coming home to yourself. And, cliché as it sounds, the only way out really is through.
To make it through, you have to tune into what you need.
That means you must make a commitment to yourself to spend even just two minutes with checking in with yourself each day. You can do this by:
>> Placing one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart upon waking. And then asking your body, “How do you feel? Where do you feel depleted? How can I nourish you?”
>> Journalling even half a page upon waking up, or before going to bed, using the prompt, “Today I feel/felt…” or “Today I learned/noticed…”
>> Scheduling in a two-minute break in your afternoon to do a breathing or stretching exercise.
Over time, this daily habit of checking in with yourself will make you more self-aware, which is the first step. From there, you can experiment with tending to what you need.
What this could look like:
If you’re feeling lonely, for instance, take solace in knowing that this is a part of the path. We only ever truly belong when we stop trying to fit in and discover how to be true to ourselves. That’s when we attract our people—the ones who feel like a hug, versus the ones we have to impress. But to get there we must spend some quality time with ourselves.
If and when you’re ready, you can also take actionable steps toward finding your people by joining a community group online, or even just by reaching out to someone off-line or online who resonates with the you that you’re discovering.
If what’s bubbled up for you is that you’re unsure of what fulfills you, you can make a list of those activities you loved growing up and see if there is anything on that list that still sparks a light in you. This is typically the best place to start. If you didn’t have the privilege of a happy childhood, though, you could also look at a website that offers courses in an array of different areas and see if any peak your curiosity.
As well, know that there do tend to be clues to your interests in obvious places, like your bank statements, your search history, and your podcast library. Take a breath and delve into learning about one topic. See what happens. The worst thing is nothing at all. Then you can simply try out another.
Life isn’t about getting it “right,” remember. It’s about this whole beautiful process of self-discovery.
It’s not too late to make a change. Don’t rob yourself of learning who you really are. You deserve deep intimacy with yourself.
And I guarantee those in your life will benefit from your homecoming as well.