I talk about “being yourself” all the time. Heck, it’s even a part of my logo. You might even know that I have a personalized license plate that says sois-toi, or “be you” in French. The reason I surround myself with reminders to be myself is because we are inundated every day with messages that tell us the exact opposite. I want to saturate my mind with truth. I know how good to feels to live life as me (versus an imitation of someone else) – it is freeing and exciting. You have the same freedom available to you, but to activate it you must learn to really live out who you are.
Which brings us to one of the biggest questions I ever get asked.
“How do I learn who I really am?”
There are a lot of methods to self-discovery, but the number one way to really dig deep is much simpler than you might think it is. The answer is found in being alone.
I know that doesn’t sound profoundly insightful, but it is. Some of the greatest and deepest lessons in life are learned through seemingly simple experiences.
My own personal breakthrough happened on the other side of the world. I moved from the United States to the south of France. I knew no one and I had nowhere lined up to live, but I did have a job that was set to start a few weeks later. Eventually I showed up at the non-descript train station in Perigueux, France with five bags at my side and no direction. It was at that moment, by myself, that I started to change.
Within 48 hours I secured a cell phone, leased a property, identified where I would be working and managed to find an internet cafe so I could communicate to my family in Virginia that I was safe. The challenge of adapting to a foreign language in a foreign country by yourself unveiled to me a new understanding of my personal resourcefulness. This solo endeavor taught me that I was bold, capable, adaptable and confident. I learned first hand that I could successfully take on any challenge thrown my way.
I attribute the tipping point of my recovery from my eating disorder to the time I spent in France, time that was spent alone at cafes. I spent hours and hours per day at cafes and restaurants, engraining myself in the French culture and becoming part of the local community. Doing so provided a lot of alone time for self-reflection. It was through the hours of walking (my first real experience of life without a car) and the time at cafes that I learned who I really was, what I really loved about life, what I really loved about myself, and who I really wanted to become.
Spend some time alone. You will never learn you who really are or who you really want to become if you never step away from the noisey static that comes with always being around other people. Being alone can be uncomfortable, but that is just what makes is oh so magical, for life really does begin when you step outside of your comfort zone.