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Many of us come to a time in our lives when we feel lost. We are unsure of who we are or where we want to go. It can be such a lonely feeling when the person you always relied on to be there suddenly is lost: you. If you ever find yourself here, needing a soul searching journey, GO! The greatest gift you could ever give yourself is to find your true meaning in this big ole crazy world in which we live!
My Soul Searching Journey
At the age of 29, my life seemed to be crumbling. I had bought a house in the suburbs to save an unsavable relationship, only to have that relationship end the day after closing. Then, my mother lost her battle with cancer. This all happened within 3 weeks of each other. A big move, a break up of a long term relationship, and the loss of my only living parent… Needless to say, I was struggling. I felt lost and overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do. It took me about 6 months, but I made a plan; I would just run away from it all.
This is an extreme plan, but I felt I needed a break from the life I built. I knew I wasn’t happy. So, I moved across the Pacific Ocean to a little place we know as Oahu, Hawai’i. It was here I was able to get reacquainted with myself. What I learned during my path to self discovery were small, but profound life lessons. These lessons helped me become a new version of myself.
5 Lessons I Learned in my Self Discovery
Life has a way of molding a person. You can accept and grow, or you can fight and get stuck. How does one accept and not fight?
Growth is scary. There is no denying it. Going into the unknown to discover yourself has so many thorns, but the roses at the end are worth it! Here are the lessons I learned in my self searching journey.
There is no full proof plan in life
We are conditioned to think if we get educated, move up the ranks, make the right choices, we are destined to have a great life. Could this be true? Absolutely. Is it guaranteed? Absolutely not.
My mother always said, “You start making plans and God laughs.” Although I am not overly religious, this quote has always resonated with me. I know high school dropouts, that made all the wrong decisions, until they found the one right decision. They are living well. I also know perfect students who made all the correct textbook decisions in life, only to have life crumble at their feet. You never know what life has in store for you, even if you do all the right things.
While in Hawai’i, I was reminded of this over and over. The people I met all had different life stories of why they ended up on the most isolated island in the world. Everyone of those people were living a life they were overwhelming in love with living. What they all had in common was a knowledge that life is not always what they had planned, but they were making the most of what they were given.
Comfort Zones are Dream Crushers
It is human nature to stay where we are comfortable. Rarely does anyone want to feel uncomfortable. I GET THIS! I have been guilty of staying in unhappy situations because it was comfortable. This did not serve me in any way.
Comfort zones are not something we are born with. We learn new things well enough for them to become comfort zones. We often do these things on a small scale. Why not expand and make large leaps to leave your comfort zone?
If it gives you paralyzing anxiety to make large leaps out of your comfort zone, make small steps. For example, if you are unhappy in your current professional life, you do not have to quit your job completely, just take on a new role with growth options. Set yourself up with supports in case things do not work as planned. Whatever you do, do not stay in your comfort zone. Growth does not happen here.
It is Okay to Struggle
This is a hard one for most people I know. Struggling is not comfortable. Why would anyone willingly choose to live a life where they will struggle?
Truth be told, struggle is the process in which we find out what we are capable of doing. Struggle forces one to grow, and to learn areas of strength you may not otherwise know.
Resilience is a characteristic that cannot be taught in a book or learned from a friend. One must experience the negatives to find true strength. I have learned the most about myself and my strength through the struggles I have encountered over my lifetime.
Setbacks Can Be The Greatest Teacher
When thinking about our hopes and dreams, rarely do we envision the setbacks we may encounter. These setbacks can sometimes be exactly what we need, though, to catapult us into a new direction far better than we could have ever imagined.
Every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. When our plans change unexpectedly, we are forced to reach into the depths of our soul to figure out how to come out of the situation on top. These situations build character. If you let it, setbacks can be a valuable asset for personal growth and self discovery. You never know what life will throw your way, but accept it and allow it to make you a better, stronger person.
You are Capable of So Much More Than You Think
When my mother was put into hospice care, I confided in my friend that I did not know what I was going to do when she passed. Afterall, I was only 29 and felt I wasn’t ready to navigate this world alone. His response was simple, “You will wake up, get dressed, and take on the world like you do every single day.”
This was a profound moment in my own personal growth. He was right. Life would be different, but I would figure it out because that is what I do.
We are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit. Many of us naturally go to freak out mode. However, our greatest opportunities to grow come from setbacks and struggles. Each and everyone of us on this earth are strong, capable individuals; we just need to allow our capable self to shine.
When you are on your own soul searching journey, there will likely be less than satisfactory moments at times. Just remind yourself that discomfort brings growth and you are capable of handling anything life throws at you. Who knows what you may find for your life when you go looking for your best self.
Tips to Start Your Own Soul Searching Journey
I know my move across the ocean was a little over the top, but truth be told, I am a little over the top. I am an “all in or all out” type of woman. If you are finding yourself needing some self discovery, but in a less extreme kind of way, I suggest these small steps to begin your own journey.
1. Take a trip alone somewhere unfamiliar, whether far or near.
You don’t have to break the bank to find yourself. I suggest going to a place unfamiliar so you are forced out of your comfort zone. Talk to strangers, have dinner alone, figure out the activities you really love doing, find out who YOU are.
2. Participate in daily meditation activities (ALONE).
The word meditation is a turn off for some, as it is heavily rooted in religious activities. This is not the type of meditation I am speaking of, though. If religious meditation is your thing, by all means, continue with the practice. If it is not, just find some quiet time in the day to clear your mind and be truly present in the moment. Give your body time to relax and enjoy, even if only for a few moments every day.
3. Disregard what society says you need to be.
It is hard to beat to your own drum. Society has all these expectations for us. Even worse, our families have their own expectations. These expectations do not always align with the person we feel we should be. My greatest advice is follow your own heart. It will not always be an easy journey, but the joy from following your heart is worth it!
4. Trust your inner whispers.
Our instincts are our greatest compass. Listen to your body when it tells you something isn’t serving you any longer. Don’t disregard those guttural instincts to release yourself from people and/or situations harmful for your personal growth. On the flip side, be sure to stay in tune and give merit to the people/things that give you joy. Pursue those positive inner whispers and discard the negative.
5. Find a new hobby; one where you are forced to learn something new.
Hobbies are a great way to tap into abilities we were not aware existed. When you try something new, this allows you to tap into uncharted growth territory. You may just find you had a hidden talent deep inside!
6. Try a MeetUp in your area to find people with common interests.
I am an introvert myself, so the thought of meeting up with random people terrifies me. Luckily, this feeling is only temporary. I have never been unhappy with the decision to join a meetup.
I have made very valuable friendships when I allowed myself to open up. In fact, I have a pretty impressive professional girl squad due to stepping out of my comfort zone and connecting with like minded individuals.
7. Cut toxic people out of your life.
Cutting out people in our life can be difficult. We often keep people in our lives because they are our oldest friend, or they are family. True, it is hard to discard these people, but toxic is toxic. If someone is detrimental to your own personal growth, they should not be in your life. You cannot reach your own potential with “soul suckers” in your life. Do yourself a favor and cut out the toxicity.
8. Forgive yourself for growing.
Growing is not always comfortable. We often outgrow friends and become unfamiliar to even our closest confidants. There can be guilt in this growth; however, you should always forgive yourself for growing.
Becoming a better version of yourself should not be a burden. If those around you are uncomfortable with you become in your self discovery, move on. You don’t need the negativity.
Social media can be a soul suck. The negativity attached to social media can be overwhelming. We sometimes put more stock in our internet existence than we do in reality. If you really want to connect with your true self, I suggest you disconnect from social media for a bit and reconnect with reality.
10. Find a confidant you can speak with regularly.
I am personally not a fan of sitting down with professional psychologists to discuss my personal life, although I do see the value in it. However, I am a huge advocate for having a confidant to regularly speak with to grow your ideas and talk through the growth you are experiencing.
I do not mean gossiping about every detail of your life with multiple people, but do find someone to reflect with from time to time. Verbal reflection can spark new understanding, and your confidant can provide you with fresh ideas you may not be keen on just yet.
Self discovery and personal growth is bumpy road. You will have ups and downs, peaks and pits. Regular introspections are necessary, though, to be the best possible version of yourself. Good luck on your own journey to the best you! YOU GOT THIS!
Soul Searching Book Recommendations
If you are a reader and are looking for some inspiration, I have some great selections for you! I am not the biggest fan of self help books, so be aware these are the stories of real individuals seeking self discovery, not self help books (with the exception of The Big Leap).