Figuring out who you are: It’s never too late

In my work as a therapist, I cannot tell you how often I have used the movie “Runaway Bride” as an example for my female patients/clients (and some of the males). So many people do not know who they are. They go from relationship to relationship and job to job becoming whomever they need to be in order to make the situation work. They are often very likeable people. That is, except to themselves. It is impossible to really like someone unless you know them.

In the “Runaway Bride”, Julia Roberts’ character becomes whatever her current boyfriend/fiance expects or wants her to be without giving thought to her own true identity. Spoiler alert – it turns out that she really has no idea who she is until challenged by Richard Gere’s character to figure it out. I love the scene in which she makes several egg dishes in order to figure out how she actually likes eggs.

I knew who I was and then I got married. During the nearly 20 years of my marriage, I set aside much of who I was and developed new interests. They were still my interests, but I was denying a large part of who I really am. Once divorced, I began to reclaim those aspects that had been shelved for nearly two decades. As I have mentioned in the past, one of those aspects was my athleticism.  It still saddens me to think that the young woman who figure skated, walked for miles, rode her bike, and loved the physical fitness part of boot camp, set that aside for so long. While I can no longer be the ‘rink rat’ that I was in my youth (no ice rink), I have become a full-fledged gym rat. I have rediscovered my love for Disco (no laughing please). I do rather than watch and I allow myself to have whatever feelings come. And I am returning to the spontaneity of my youth.

So what if you related too well with the people described above? How do you figure out who you are? You may actually know more about yourself than you think. What kind of music moves you? To what kind of literature are you most often drawn? If you could eat one food (and only that food) for the rest of your life, what would it be?  What makes you cry? What makes you laugh? What excites you? What saddens or disgusts you? What is the one thing you could convince others to do without much effort? Some of these may be easy to answer, others may be harder. If you find yourself saying…”well, so and so likes…” stop yourself. This is not about anyone else. If you truly cannot answer the question, then experiment. Just like Julia Roberts, sample dishes, music, art, literature, dreams, activities. The list and options are endless.

When should you start? It is never too late to start, but now is the best time there is to begin your journey of self-exploration.

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