The most difficult phase of life is not when no one understands you; It is when you don't understand yourself.
So, this a gigantic part of where I've been for the last few years. You'd think, since I have a degree in psychology and a master's degree in counseling that I would be awesome at figuring myself out. Sorry to tell you that is not even close to true. In fact, I used to be one of the worst people about doing things for myself. And trying to figure myself out. I just put myself on the back burner and focused on anyone else I could find. I wouldn't let anyone get close to me because I didn't want them to see how unhappy I was and how unsure of who I am I was in so many ways.
For a long time, I didn't understand why I kept eating all the time. I was doing so much damage to myself but I couldn't see it. I just knew I felt better every time I put food in my mouth. I don't think my family really understood that. In fact, I know they didn't. I would always talk about how I was the "fat" one and how I stuck out like a sore thumb. But, I was the first one to grab cake and ice cream (and volunteer to take the extra home) at any of our many parties. I couldn't stop myself.
Not being around other people was another part of not understanding myself. I didn't expose myself to the outside world as much as I probably should have throughout my twenties. I often thought it was because other people didn't get me. The truth? I didn't understand myself enough to where I might fit in and what kind of groups of people I would have fun with. As I look back on it, I can see I was still doing to myself what I did in high school. Just trying to fit in somewhere. Not the best way to try to meet people with similar interests.
I didn't give people the chance to understand me because I didn't understand myself. I didn't really know what I wanted out of life. I would just kinda float through each day and hope that, eventually, I would find my way without too much effort.
It actually took my first meeting with Renee' (and a few of the initial emails) to get my brain started on trying to understand myself. That was a huge part of our conversation that first day. She asked me about my strengths, weaknesses, what I like to do for fun and some other things that sparked some thoughts in my head. Eventually. No one had ever taken the time to ask me those questions and stick around to hear the answers. It took me awhile to come up with the answers. Shocker to some but to those who know me well, you probably aren't surprised because you know I don't always come up with quick responses. I've never been good at complimenting myself or talking about myself. Now that I think about it, it's probably because I didn't understand who I am. Taking the time to get to know me is one of the greatest gifts she's given me. There's a lot of them but I definitely believe this is a huge part of the initial step out of my hole of self doubt and depression.
I think Renee' knew right away how much I don't like to put myself out there. Now, I have to keep in mind that my brother set this whole meeting up and I still have no idea what he said to her. And to be honest, it doesn't matter to me. He loves me, wants what is best for me and he is the BEST big brother ever so I know he said nothing but the things he knew and believed about me. He just wanted to help me in anyway he could. I'm not sure he could have imagined the huge turnaround he would be in charge of starting. Maybe he understood me better than I understood myself. Well, he had to since I'm just starting to understand who I am. And what I want out of life.
Renee' pushed me to start looking into different activities that I could get involved in. She helped me see, almost right away, that I could make a difference in the lives of others and, that by doing so, I would make a better life for myself.
Figuring out who you are is a lifelong process. It's why we encourage kids to get involved in and try out different activities. You never know who you are until you find your niche. For some of us, that takes a long time, like me. I'm still figuring it out. But, I am learning to love being a lifelong learner. And I'm having fun understanding myself. It makes me smile so many more times during the day than I ever thought I could. And they are genuine smiles. And when people see genuine understanding and happiness coming from within you, they want to be around you and get interested in learning more and more about who you are.
Take the time to get to know yourself. You won't be sorry. I know I'm not. I can't wait to see what else I find inside myself for the world to see. I bet there are some amazing things to discover! And I'm willing to bet the same is true for all of you :)
The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world.