I haven’t heard that phrase in a long time.
Sure, five years ago, at the age of 23 or so, I would have nodded in agreement. Because five years ago, perhaps, I was trying to “find myself.”
But if you come up to me today and say that to me, I’m not going to buy it.
Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.
And that’s exactly what someone said to me this week – that I’m trying to “find myself”. Of course this was after I told her my history of quitting jobs where I was treated poorly and my love for travel. Because apparently when someone leaves a job that they’re unhappy with, it means they’re trying to find themselves.
“Um, I think I’ve already found myself,” was my response.
Because the thing is, today, in 2015 at 27-years-old, I’ve never been so sure of who I am.
Yeah, I don’t know where I’m going with my status quo “career” and there are times I doubt myself and think I suck and don’t feel like a real writer and for the past few weeks I’ve been dying for some type of excitement in my life but then just end up on the couch eating Doritos. But that doesn’t mean I need to go “find myself”. It just means that I need to get my lazy butt to a café and do some writing and while I’m outside, maybe stop by the gym.
But there were times when I fell into the whole stereotypical cliché, “I need to find myself” phrase. Trust me. I’ve been there. And I’d like to share a few examples with you.
When I was in college, towards the end of my junior year, I wanted to take a semester off to “find myself”. Only my dad didn’t really like this idea and, also, I come from an Indian family and when someone announces that they’re going to “take a semester off” you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. If you come from an Asian family, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
So I ended up staying in college and my senior year was actually a good year. I interned for a couple of well-known publications and was pretty proud to do so. I took a 10-day class trip to London, England. I took a random journalism class that wasn’t required of me (because I was in the Magazine/ Editorial program in the Journalism department) called Investigative Reporting. I was seeking something different and it turned out to be my favorite class and I didn’t even have to take it. Let me tell you something, you haven’t lived until you’ve called a former nurse at her house who’ve had her license revoked and ask her all of these reporter-y questions and then she hangs up on you. That, my friend, is livin’.
So, yeah, I’m not exactly sure what I would’ve done during my “semester off” but if I had taken it, I’m sure I would have been fine. But getting a college degree that I don’t use today is just as well rewarding.
Another example: There was a time when I took a beginners painting class to “find myself” at an art center but then I had to do “real work” for college credit and ended up quitting the “find myself painting class”. This was kind of a shame because I do actually enjoy painting – abstract painting that is. Ask me to paint you an apple and we’re going to have a problem. I’m not exactly sure what I would have found had I continued with the class other than I like painting. Maybe I should take up this hobby again. What do you think?
One more example: I took Italian in college and almost failed. I think this was during my junior year. You see, one night I was watching Oprah and her guest, Elizabeth Gilbert, had such an amazing story. The next day, I went straight to Barnes & Noble and bought her book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” which, admittedly, I’ve never actually gotten all the way through it but read enough to get the gist of the story. I was convinced that this book was going to change my life, and although, I didn’t even read the whole book, it inspired me to take Italian the following semester.
This was a BAD idea. Other than the fact that the course involved a lot of work, I had a lot of writing classes and projects going on at the same time, and didn’t study enough to the point where I became so stressed and just stopped going to the class. I just decided to give up and take a failing grade. I’ve never had a failing grade before, so this was quite depressing. But then a random girl (also a college student at the time) contacted me and offered to tutor me.
You see, before I decided to give up, I tried to find a tutor at a reasonable price – just someone who could get me through the course. Since I didn’t get any responses, I gave up. But after this girl contacted me, I emailed my professor and asked if I could continue with the course (because if you miss a certain amount of days of classes, you automatically fail). He shockingly agreed. And I didn’t end up failing the course. Of course, I didn’t LEARN anything either. I just memorized enough to get through the course. And I’m not sure if I actually “found myself” but I did learn something about myself… don’t take on languages while in school because you’ll die.
So, yeah, I’ve tried to find myself over and over again thinking some book had all of the answers to life or that I needed to do something in order to really find out who I was. But the thing is, I’m ALWAYS going to learn stuff about myself. There’s always something I will discover about myself like little pieces to a missing puzzle.
And I’m OK with that. If I had all the pieces to myself, then I imagine life would be pretty boring. So I don’t want all of the pieces. I want to slowly find them like a life-long scavenger hunt. Maybe I’ll find a piece in a new country or city. Maybe I’ll find one in a relationship. Or maybe I’ll find one while walking down the street.
My year in Australia was not a “finding myself” trip. But I did find out things about myself. I really hate hostels. And I don’t ever want to work in a hostel again. And although I’m really glad I made it a whole year in OZ, long-term travel is not something I necessarily enjoy. And maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t have spent the first half of my year eating pasta and instant noodles like a hobo because now I’m paying for it while dragging myself to the gym at least 5 days a week. And, also, I love Mariah Carey enough to chase her car and have a woredrop malfunction. OK. Fine. I already knew that about myself – that piece was found a long time ago.
But in terms of who I am, no matter where I am in the world, or what job I’m doing or who I’m spending my time with, I’m pretty confident in that even if I’m unclear about a status quo career path (or if I even want a status quo career path), I know who I am. I think people often identify a job or what they studied in school with their identity. But that doesn’t mean it’s who you are. Jobs change. People change. You don’t have to tie yourself to a career or a job or even a person because you’ve been doing it for a long time or you’ve spent a lot money for a shiny degree.
What I do know is that I’m a creative person. How I convey that to the world is a work in progress. I also love to travel and feel like I’ll spend the majority of my life trying to see this world. I’m a writer – even when I have trouble believing it’s true sometimes. I love Mariah Carey and want to be BFFs with her. I love Justin Timberlake and want to have his babies. And, yes, despite what I just said, I don’t really like kids – they annoy me. I am an introvert with some extrovert characteristics even if it doesn’t seem like it if you’ve ever met me in person. Or vice versa, if you’ve met me after I’ve had a few cocktails.
I like quiet time and tea not grinding up against random strangers in clubs. I have an addiction to cheese. Yes, cheese. And I’ll end up eating ALL of it in one sitting. I like reading romantic comedies – not science fiction. And these days I find it easier to stand up for myself even if it makes me look like a bitch. Because, sometimes, you have to be a bitch.
So, excuse me, but I think I know myself pretty damn well.
There are still a lot of things I need to work on about myself. A LOT. But the concept of trying to “find myself” is sooooooo 2010. So when someone comes up to me and says that I’m trying to “find myself” because I quit a job in 2013 because they were total jerk-faces, my only response is this: “Bitch, please. I’m right here.”
OK. So maybe I didn’t actually say that but I was thinking it.