This was an unexpected topic that I had no intentions of writing about. Sometimes these become the best topics and posts though. Every year as it gets close to my birthday I do a personal self-assessment of the year that is coming to a close and what my favorite parts were and what I want to do to improve this upcoming personal year.
For anyone that knows me they know, 17 is my lucky number so I decided 2017 would be the year of me. I wanted to accomplish a lot in that year and for the most part, I accomplished everything on my to-do list and then some. While assessing myself I realized that 2017 became the year I chose to never be apologetic for being me.
I came down from that fence … you know the one that we have all sat on while trying to figure out who we are, what social groups and standards we want to align with, what morals and values we are going to keep that we were taught from childhood. In 2017 I chose me. I chose the blunt, goofy, adventurous, humanitarian, caring, giving, God fearing and God loving me and I am unapologetic about it. More simply put I discovered my self-identity.
Of course, me being me, I needed to find a logical explanation for this little lifelong process I have been going through. Some people chalk it up to just growing and developing and becoming an adult. It’s well known that as adults the closer we get to our 40’s the more set we become in our ways. As much as I would like to say it is that, I know it is deeper.
For the most part, my self-identity aligns with the same self I remember having when I was in 5th grade. Which makes me curious about this whole process. Why in the world did I have to go through all of this mess just to realize who I am is who I was before the world really got a hold of me???
While looking for this explanation (I never found it either because I am easily distracted) I ran across the article, “Know Yourself? 6 Specific Ways To Know Yourself”, on one of my many favorite sites, Psychology Today, by Meg Selig, counselor, professor, and author. In her article, she summarizes the benefits of self-knowledge and what the building blocks of “self” are. She likes to call these blocks your VITALS.
After reading her article I was amazed that my own personal assessment checklist covered VITALS. I’m sure by now you are curious what VITALS stands for. Well here is the list of my own personal examples:
V = Values
My values, for the most part, have stayed consistent throughout my whole life. I was raised to believe in God and to walk as closely as I possibly could as a human to the way Jesus would walk. I try my best to do everything from a place of love. I was raised with the importance of a formal education being a requirement. Now that has changed in my eyes and I believe that after high school as long as you continue to have a hunger for learning and spend your life trying to satisfy that hunger then you will always be ahead of the education front. Nothing can substitute a healthy desire for learning. I can go further in depth on my values but that would be a much longer post for another day. 🙂
I = Interests
I am a curious soul and so this was probably what I spent my 20’s figuring out. Back in the day when I would list my interests on that infamous website MySpace I swear it was a never-ending list. I could have been liked/loved by anyone who wanted to try something new. To this day I enjoy trying new things but my true interests in classical music, nature, and exploring cultures, have become more specific. I enjoy having fun but these activities give me a sense of calmness.
T = Temperament
This one describes your inborn preferences. For example, do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants or plan everything out? Do you prefer to hang out with people to get recharged or do you prefer to be alone? This is like your personal preferences … I’ve realized I like quiet spaces more these days.
A = Around-the-clock Activities
Around-the-clock activities are considered things you do naturally … or your biorhythms. Something that sticks out the most to me is the fact I pee three times a day. It doesn’t matter what I am doing or where I am at. I will pee when I get up, around midday, and then right before I go to sleep. I am almost certain my kidneys hate me and will pay for said schedule later in life. Something else I noticed is no matter what I cannot function without 8 hours of sleep. That is the ideal amount of sleep for adults to get but most adults function on closer to 6 hours of sleep a night. I know if I get more than one night of sleep that is less than 8 hours then I won’t be fully functional throughout the rest of the week.
L = Life Mission and Meaningful Goals
I’ve known since I was extremely young that my calling from God was to help others. The first time I realized this was when we acted out “The Good Samaritan” parable in the Bible in our clown’s church acting group. I then realized it again when our youth group went on work trips to help others. I actually enjoyed going and helping others. The next sign was when my youth leader taught us about how Jesus washed his disciple’s feet. Teaching me that if Jesus could humble himself to clean another I could and should do the same. When I went to Turkey I got to see a woman with only one arm but even that one arm didn’t have a forearm. Her legs were amputated at her knees as well, yet she was sitting in the market selling products she made. That taught me that if she can help herself my healthy and able body should not only be able to take care of me but also others. As I became older the theme became even more clear in my life. Today I live by it. In her article Meg says she tells her students to ask themselves “What have been the most meaningful moments in your life?” this might lead to them finding a career they love or life satisfaction.
S = Strengths
This was by far what held me back from realizing my true self-identity. It isn’t that I didn’t know my strengths, it is more that I didn’t believe in them. I let others opinions get to me. I love how Meg calls your strengths actual superpowers. When I take a count of my physical skill strengths and then also my character strengths they are superpowers. Her statement about having low self-esteem when you don’t acknowledge your superpowers really resonated with me. That is where my unapologetic for being me is coming in. What I consider a strength for myself someone else might not. That is their opinion though. For example … it is a personal character strength that I am straight forward and blunt. When I am not I stutter. I become anxious because I am second guessing my natural self. I grew up being apologized for by my parents for things I would say. They were never really wrong they were just blunt statements/comments that although true most people would keep to themselves, especially kids.
So these are a few examples of my VITALS. I have a lot more but I don’t want anyone to get stuck on my examples when searching for your own. Speaking of searching for your own … how DO we discover them? Where do we find them? Well, like I said every year I do a self-assessment, but every day I do little mini-assessments of my day or even in the moment assessments. Let me just take this moment to admit I am an over thinker and analyzer … hahaha … *shrugs* … just being honest.
Back to discovering these VITALS … Meg also wrote a follow-up article to her VITALS article titled “Looking For Your True Self? 10 Strategies For Self-Knowledge” that she suggested readers take a look at after reading her VITALS article. I, of course, being thorough, took her suggestion.
Here is a list of her 10 Strategies summarized by yours truly:
- Listen to compliments and absorb them.
Sincere compliments might be pointing to VITALS that you might not have noticed before.
- Notice your emotions and “flow” states.
These can help you figure out what is satisfying/unsatisfying to you which will lead to a more content and true self.
- Notice what you are thinking.
Be mindful of your thoughts throughout the day. This can give you a better understanding of yourself.
- Become friends with your mistakes.
Instead of obsessing over doing something wrong look at it as a learning experience you can grow from.
- Keep a journal or take time to reflect.
Journaling about your day allows for you to reflect on the positives of the day, possibly leading you to a VITAL.
- Listen to other people, but make and live by your own decisions.
Only you know what is best for you in the long run.
- Talk to a therapist or counselor.
They are helpful in getting you past mental and emotional barriers blocking you from finding your self.
- Try personality and temperament tests.
A test like Myers-Briggs can point you in the right direction.
- Practice assertiveness.
When you are able to BE who you KNOW you are.
- Surround yourself with good people who accept you and foster your growth.
Make sure you find people who support you becoming your best self, compared to people who constantly lead you in the opposite direction or try to keep you down.
There you have it … a little peek into my self-identity journey. Hopefully, if you haven’t found yours this will help. If you have found yours what are some of the things you did to find and develop your identity? Do you have some additional tips you could add? We would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below. 🙂