It might feel like a bait and switch to save this for last (haven’t seen the previous posts? Start here,) but the 3rd and final piece that I think is important in the process of finding yourself is….recognizing that you never will.
That’s right. When you truly know your full self, in an experiential and transformative way, it is dynamic. Ever changing. When you’re living with your false self front and center, the perk is that everything is really simple and never changes. It’s really clear that the kind of person you are expected to be is AB and C and you do that by doing X Y and Z and it’s not going to be any different tomorrow than it was today. So if you really want to find your true self, I’m preparing you and giving you permission to walk into places that feel uncertain and unsure and where you don’t have all the answers. Exploration and discovery are by nature inefficient. It’s ok if your process isn’t a straight line. Uncertainty is what HAS to precede every new thing we learn.
Exploration and uncertainty allow for experience that goes beyond understanding. Parents and pastors can pass down cognitive understanding, but they can’t pass down felt experience, and I have to believe that it’s not all about cognitive understanding if “become as a little child” has any truth to it.
Exploration and uncertainty allow us to accommodate new information and perspectives. Most of the time the discomfort of doubt just means I saw something new, heard a new perspective, something that didn’t line up with the worldview I’ve constructed. Of course it’s going to feel uncomfortable until I reconstruct in such a way that there’s a place for it. You can’t “unsee” it, so just stuffing it down and keeping your old framework…it will keep resurfacing. On the other hand, if I take it and wrestle with it until I have built a new framework (even if that framework is less cut and dry and is one that allows for confusion and loss and mystery and paradox), I see it as a gift. And the process of using that gift of discomfort or doubt in that fashion is one I would hope never stops.
So I want your process of knowing to be experiential, I want it to be integrated, but most of all I want it to be ongoing, to be dynamic. Sometimes I have people come into counseling and say things like “well when I’ve processed this” or “when I’m in such and such a place” Like there’s some sort of arrival point. No honey, you don’t arrive. And thank God, because the though that we reach a peak and then coast the rest of our lives is a really disheartening thought. So, here’s to never really finding ourselves, but welcoming the journey.