The other day I was scrolling through Facebook mindlessly when I came across an unexpected gem of advice. It said, “What if we stopped asking ourselves, ‘Who am I?’ and start asking ourselves, ‘Who am I becoming?’” Business consultant Sam Ovens asked people to consider something new: In Western society, we cling to the idea that we need to hold on to our past – that our past defines us and is part of our story.
What if it doesn’t?
What if we’re allowed to shed who we are right now and become someone new? Ovens did just that. He used to be an average Joe trudging through college, jealous of those who were successful. Not once did he believe he could break out of his reserved and slacking shell to become something bigger. One day, it hit him. Why couldn’t he? He dropped out of college and set off on starting his own business. Everyone thought he was crazy, telling him this kind of decision wasn’t like him. He was a drop-out who failed accounting, so how could he possibly run a business? He ended up running a business and became a millionaire while doing it.
Of course, dropping out of college isn’t his advice here, but making changes in your life is. We all have this preconceived notion of ourselves, which is built on stories about us, memories we have, characteristics we have acquired, and others’ opinions of us. We can shed that image like a second skin.
Think about it – we’re constantly evolving from the day we’re born to the day we die. More likely than not, you’re going to be a much different person after graduating college than you were when you left high school. You’re definitely a different person from first grade to high school. We’re not supposed to remain stagnant; we’re supposed to be constantly discovering our own potential.
It’s important to love yourself, but you don’t have to settle. Evolve. Focus on becoming the best version of yourself for you. If you’re an introvert, step out of your comfort zone and do things you normally wouldn’t dream of doing for a week. If you’re an extrovert, take some time to be still and quiet, alone with your thoughts. Read a book you would never think to read, take on a hobby you would never even dream about, get a pet, eat something new, or take a spontaneous trip. Basically, try things you and your conceived self would never do.
The formula to success and happiness is nonexistent. Yes, you have to work hard and be good at what you do, but it’s also all about mindset. If you are the same person when you die as you are now, what have you accomplished? Growth is a part of life.
Personally, I used to be a crippling shy introvert with no self-esteem. Had you told me by age 22 that I would have held leadership positions, given speeches, and written for publications, as well as have confidence in myself, I would never have believed you.
Since high school, I have been pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t like to be around a lot of people and wasn’t energetic, so I became a camp counselor. I preferred to be a follower rather than a leader, so I became president of debate. I didn’t think I was good enough to pursue big dreams, so now I’m actively working towards one of the most competitive job markets. I have retained who I am at my core, but I’ve allowed experiences and growth to mold me into my present best self. My highest goal is to never stop growing, and yours should be too.
It isn’t fake to be someone you’re not; it’s pushing your boundaries and finding out who you can become.