I’ve ever heard an unpopular opinion from a famous author, Mark Manson. He said ,“I say don’t find yourself. I say never know who you are. Because that’s what keeps you striving and discovering. And it forces you to remain humble in your judgments and accepting of the differences in others.”
Don’t find yourself? It’s quite a bit opposite from what we usually hear from society — especially if you are now in an "age of crisis" like a teenager or an early adult. Life feels quite unstable if we don’t feel like we’ve found ourselves.
But when I take a closer look at Mark’s quote, he said, "Because it’s what keeps you striving and discovering", I start to understand. Maybe what he means by "don’t find yourself" doesn’t fully mean you are completely shut and not giving a thought about who you are, yet he reminds you to never stop looking for yourself and not be easily satisfied with the idea you’ve discovered about who you are.
Honestly, this quote was a slap to me. Especially because I am now in a “age of crisis“. I’m graduating high school this year and intend to continue my study in university before eventually facing the real world —which I also have to plan since now, I guess.
So I’m going to share with you how I actually apply this in my life
I can say that I’m a type of teenager who is extremely eager to find out about myself. Before I read this thought, I already believed that I had found myself completely. I know which field I strive in, what skills I have, how to deal with failure and how to rise up again in my way, and I know what my weaknesses are. I also know which fields I do not feel perform well in; I know what kind of person I am, and I’m saying goodbye to other "kinds" of person I can be.
These are some principles and beliefs I have held throughout my teenage years. It looks cool, right? It seems like I’ve completely discovered myself and my plans for the future.
But apparently, there are moments in life where it can’t flow the way I want to. Sometimes we got to slide a bit before eventually getting back on route, or sometimes we had to go around first until we found the straight line again. Because if we over-believed that we have found ourselves and completely rely on those ideas, we will be stuck, and if someone tries to give their advice, you will already be as hard as stone, saying "No, I’m not that kind of person".
So based on my experience, at least there five consequences of "over-finding" yourself,
Eliminating opportunities —by believing that you are this certain type of person, it will make you feel that you’re not capable of doing anything outside the list (list of capabilities based on what kind of person I am). Whereas, you can actually do it even though you aren’t a top performer at it, but it’s better than nothing, isn’t it? Besides, you can level up your skill by taking the opportunity.
Making you take a step back—worse than losing opportunities, you choose to step back; you choose to surrender before fighting. Or at least you’re stuck, not stepping forward at all. Like the analogy that has been mentioned before, sometimes we have to go around before finding our straight line again. Sometimes you have to take fields that don’t feel like yours as a way to find them again.
Eliminates choices—it’s actually kind of the same as what has been mentioned before. Too much believing in the principles of who you are makes you reluctant to try anything outside your field—or what you think your field is—which reduces your choices. Let’s say you want to seek experience in organizations or courses or choosing a major. Yes, you’re first choice will be the one you like the most or master the most, but, like it or not, we need plan B. And if we are willing to explore a bit outside our comfort zone, we will have more varied choices.
When are you going to have fun? —If you are too much depending on boundaries you made for yourself, then when are you going to have fun? Usually, when you are in the field you master, you will tell yourself " this is the field I master, I have to perform in this". But think if you explore the fields you believe you don’t really master, you will probably be more relaxed since you have no pressure to perform at it. But who knows, maybe you will find a new skill there.
Not open to other people’s opinions —When you are overconfident in who you are, you will close your ears if people tell you something that is opposite of the principles you have been believing about yourself. Whereas, sometimes others can see things in ourselves that we can’t see. Those opinions can sometimes lead us to be better day by day.
Final words, for me, the interpretation of "don’t find yourself" is "don't stop finding yourself." There are always miles to dig.