When we let others define us, we give up our chance to discover who we really are. We are constantly changing and evolving as we grow and age, so our inner journey to find out who we are lasts a lifetime. Why would we want to forfeit the chance to get to know ourselves better? Part of the fun of life after all is discovery, the opportunity to surprise ourselves.
On the topic of self-awareness, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“As women, we have been trained to look for our identity outside ourselves. We have been raised to be someone’s daughter, someone’s wife or partner, and someone’s mother. What others think of us has been who we are. Even when we are successful professional women, we find ourselves looking outside for identity and validation. This habit is embedded deep in the marrow of our bones even when we look strong and self-defined.
An important part of our recovery is finding out who we really are—not who we have been told we should be, not who we think we should be, and not who we imagine ourselves to be.
Who is this person I call me? She has the potential of being one of the most interesting persons I have ever met. Yet, I hardly know her.”
I’ve never before considered that the reason my identity is so tied in what other people think of me is because, as women, that is what we are taught. It’s true though. Society programs us to be the caring sex, the one whose identity depends on our relationships. You always hear women described in terms of our role in relation to others. Even successful self-established women with careers don’t escape this comparison. Self-awareness takes letting go of our image to find out who we are independent of the expectations and considerations of others. How many people can truly say they know themselves, free of their roles and burdens? When I am just me, all on my own being me, who is that person? We deserve the chance to find out.