A Journey of Self Discovery
How did you get here?
You work at a job you don’t like, for a boss you can’t stand, and look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself.
The conversations you have at work include fake smiles and mindless commentary. You never feel safe enough to express your real opinions. And you entertain people, meetings, projects, and events that you could care less about.
When did you make the decision to sell out who you are in exchange for what you could have?
And, worse yet, have you been fake for so long that you no longer remember who the real you is?
Some people fall into this category and are simply annoyed with themselves. Wishing that they had never let things get as far as they have gotten. Others, however, are devastated.
You realize that in exchange for money, a title, an office, or holding down a job, you have completely lost your sense of self.
Who are YOU right now?
If for the sake of work you have gotten too far away from who you know yourself to be, don’t worry. You will never lose your opportunity to choose to be different.
You can choose who you want to be AND have a job that makes you proud of who you are.
You do not have to compromise what you are in order to please anyone.
You can reclaim the real you that you want to be and change your work life for the better.
How Do You Begin Finding Yourself?
First, let’s be clear. You may think the goal is finding yourself. But, in fact, you cannot really lose yourself.
You may believe that you are not being the real you, but the real you is exactly who you are right now.
That’s because there is only one you.
You may not like all the parts and pieces of you at the moment. Or you may feel disconnected from the you that you have become. But who you are is defined by how you show up every day.
If you have a negative relationship with the real you, it is because there is a noticeable gap between who you are and who you want to be. This negative space can leave you feeling imbalanced, disingenuous, and just not real. But do not beat up on yourself for getting to this place.
The reasons you got here were at one point likely sound and reasonable but don’t fit you today.
How did you lose yourself?
We all have compromised before in order to create peace. Peace for others and peace for ourselves.
It is important to feel a sense of harmony, acceptance, and security in our environment. Gaining what we need in life can become easier when we are in the good favor of others.
And so we work to create positive experiences with those with whom we share space.
These are all good intentions. But also risky decisions when repeated for too long or too intensely. When you continually morph yourself to be in alignment with outside standards, you may begin to forget the standards that you hold solely for yourself.
It is possible to reclaim this self awareness and to put yourself in alignment with what is important to you.
Make a commitment to yourself today. Who you want to be and who you are will be the same person starting right now.
Finding yourself involves taking steps to rediscover the essence of you. Then to exercise your freedom to move forward as the person that you really want to be.
Finding Yourself Through Self Discovery
Self discovery is the result of examining yourself and, independently, identifying who and what you are.
While you may have been influenced by societal standards, the influence of those in your circle, or your observation of the world, you make the final decision of what definition applies to you. To know who you are at your core and what you stand for requires internal assessment and willingness to be a quiet observer of oneself.
There are innumerable approaches to embark on the journey of self discovery.
If you are a beginner in undergoing this exploratory examination, here are a couple methods that you can try:
Self Discovery Method #1: Personal Value Assessment
A personal value assessment provides a means to examine, interpret, and choose what you consider to be most valuable to you. Your values affect how you interact with the world and also how you react to others’ responses to you.
Many forums, such as the Values Centre, offer assessments of this kind. See their free example HERE. It takes minutes to complete and the outcome is a comprehensive report in response to your values selections.
You can learn what your core values say about you and how they impact your connection with others.
Participating in this type of assessment is valuable, but not only for the report that you receive. More importantly, it is the experience that you can gain from the questions that are asked.
In the process of considering one value over another, you can start to reflect on what is truly important to you and why. You may find that when forced to choose and rank importance, your philosophy and practical application of your values are very different.
No matter the outcome of your assessment, determining your true core values will help to bring clarity to your self-discovery and personal identity.
You will discover that your core values shape your behavior and your interpretation of the world around you.
You make decisions on how you live, who you have in your life, and what drives you every day based on the principles that you have.
When you are conscious of your core values, you then can consciously choose how you want to incorporate them into your daily life.
Self Discovery Method #2: Core Values Journaling
Another self discovery method is to independently and thoughtfully consider your core values.
No report or outside opinion, just you thinking about you.
You can do this through self-dialogue, meditative thought, or journaling. You may find this Core Values Journal to be a useful tool to guide your self-exploration process.
This particular journal offers a mixture of questions, self discovery journaling prompts, and open journaling pages to draw out an inner dialogue around your values.
Unlike an outside assessment, you serve as the primary navigator towards learning and interpreting what is most important to you.
Core values journaling is not an all-inclusive means to determine your personal identity and self-definition. However, the journal content can help you to create meaningful internal dialogue and to point your mind in the direction of self-discovery.
The most important takeaway from these exercises is that you start to consider your own opinion.
And once you identify your opinion, you can then examine if ,in your opinion, you live in accordance with your core values.
To reach the outcome of being the true self you seek to be requires a genuine pursuit of your independent self discovery. When you know and can define who and what you are you can more easily create a definition for the authentic life you choose to live.
How Can You Move From Finding Yourself to Being Yourself?
Now that you have identified who and what you believe yourself to be, it is necessary to express yourself authentically. When you present to, communicate with, and engage with others in alignment with your true self you are at the same time honoring your self-expression.
This is being yourself.
To express yourself as the real you is to further clarify to yourself and others how your authentic self lives in everyday life.
It can take bravery, vulnerability, and openness to shift from being overly outward-focused to including your inner self’s thoughts and opinions and sharing them outloud.
This can be particularly difficult at work when you may fear the consequences of what authenticity and self-expression could bring. However, if you continue to hide your authentic self, you may continue to feel a disconnect with or loss of your true self.
- Are you restless with your job?
- Do you feel disconnected with your work?
- Are you unsatisfied with your boss?
Any and all of these scenarios may be the result of your job, work content, or boss being misaligned with your core values. And in response, you align with the job instead of standing up for yourself.
Honoring your authentic self-expression as it pertains to your work is another form of affirmation and acknowledgment of who you really are. To maintain the legacy that is you, you must keep the core of you intact.
Don’t allow yourself to do the heavy lifting of finding yourself, only to abandon who you are for your job or those you work with
5 Ways to Express Yourself Authentically at Work
Here are some ideas on how to live and work in accordance with who you are;
1. Be Honest
Find comfort in speaking your truth versus trying to please the crowd at work.
This not only demonstrates your genuine self but also allows those around you to learn and become acclimated to the real you.
Honesty can be a breath of fresh air when conformity can leave many wondering if real responses are a thing of the past. Feedback given with respect and thoughtfulness is appreciated, versus being considered rude or disharmonious.
Honesty creates the opportunity for engaging dialogue and shows consideration.
2. Speak Up
Be transparent with your thoughts, ideas, or recommendations.
When you are inspired to share, take confidence that your voice matters and your input is important. Rather than an intrusion, consider that you are a valuable asset to others.
When you respect what you have to say often others will as well. Speaking up when you feel called to share trains you to feel safe when letting the real you show.
3. Follow Your Gut
You may not always have the facts and figures to back a decision, but you know your internal gut feeling.
Permit your senses to guide your actions and trust in your ability to rely on your sixth sense. Likely it is derived from past experiences, gauging the current climate, and even an emotionally based inclination that makes sense to you.
All of these queues combined can provide you with your own unique read on a situation. You only sharpen your intuitive skills when you practice using them regularly. And you honor your authenticity when you recognize and respect that your gut instinct exists too.
4. Respect Your Boundaries
You do not have to always be everything to everyone. And you do not have an obligation to share space, time, or resources with others just because.
Respectfully declining work beyond your scope or an after-work event you have no interest in is not a dealbreaker. Instead, setting boundaries is an opportunity for you to honor your priorities and self-care.
Make a practice of saying no so that you can affirm your self-awareness of what is right for you.
5. Expect Respect
Everyone has their stressful days at work.
This does give license for you to be the recipient of another’s stress release. When things go too far, respectfully let the other person know.
You also can take time away from those that seem to be in a toxic rut for days or weeks. Respecting your personal space, your mental space, and your heart space is honoring your authenticity at the same time.
The real you is an authentic you. And the practice of authenticity permits you to stay connected to the full definition of who you are at the heart.
Practice living and interacting authentically to ensure you will not let unintended conformity remove the essence of the real you.
The real you is a part of you no matter where you go, including at your job.
However, in order to maintain a harmonious or successful experience at work, you may have felt that you had to leave the real you behind. When you fake who you are in order to appease others you can feel as if you have lost yourself and suffer the outcome of feeling disconnected or disingenuous.
But don’t worry. You can always choose to let who you are and how you show up be aligned each and every day. You can be 100% yourself without sacrificing your career goals.
Whether you use tools like a personal value assessment, a core values journal, or just quiet discussions with yourself, take time to explore self discovery. Use what you find as your personal priorities and core values as your means to infuse your unique expression into your daily work life.
By finding yourself, developing your self-definition, and showing up fully as you are, you will feel real once again!
Have you struggled with comfortably being yourself for the sake of making other people comfortable? Share your story in the Comments section below.