From a very early age we are shaped and told who we should be. Parents, teachers, peers, extended family, friends, media, jobs and even strangers tell us how we should behave, how we should look like, what to wear and how we should feel, what’s good or bad and who we should aspire to be. As if just being ‘me’ is not good enough. And we may conform, as we all have a deep need to be liked and accepted. Nevertheless, even though we hope they are doing the best they can with what they knew at that time, I cannot help but wonder how their ideas shape who we become.
We may hear ‘x has better grades/job/goods’, ‘you should be more like her/him’ or ‘be good’, ‘don’t be bad’, ‘it’s good to be thin’, ‘it’s bad to cry’ etc. and we may never really question those ideas definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Adding to that, there are all the fears and pressures to conform to be liked, to be accepted! So, what’s left of who we really are after all this shaping and polishing? With all the ‘what if’s’?
As a result of all the pressures, we may learn to be, to act as we are expected to by others. And as it goes unquestioned, it can create a feeling of being trapped in a life that does not make sense, in jobs or relationships we are unhappy with, feeling lost, confused and feeling a deep sense of unhappiness. Furthermore, we may have no idea why or what to do about it, as maybe superficially, things seem OK.
Finding and being one’s true self may not always be easy. It’s a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, similar to redoing a puzzle in an order only you know. You may need some extra support to help you through this (family /friends /counsellor or psychotherapist). They could help you start questioning things that you may have taken for granted for most of your life (e.g. ‘do you like doing that?’), to support you through that deconstruction and through finding what feels right for you, whilst leaving behind old patterns and fears. Is all this work going to be worth it?