With 2020 bringing us surprise after surprise, most or all of what we considered immutable has changed drastically. Despite how unconnected the events of 2020 may seem, there is always one consistency between them: you. No matter what happens, big or small, you can always control how you interpret, experience, and react. This article will explain (1) why self-discovery is important and (2) how to do it. Let’s start off the new year right by preparing ourselves for anything that 2021 may bring.

Why is self-introspection and self-discovery important?

Self-discovery is not only something necessary in 2020. It is something that we will need for 2021 and all the years to come.

A strong grasp on yourself will…

1. Prevent you from getting lost

In 2020, those who depended on other people or specific things had their worlds crumble, but those with strong confidence and understanding in themselves were able to weather the storm even as the world turned upside down. Using other people as guides is fine, but ultimately, you should be able to stand on your own: be your own anchor and only rely on others for additional support.

2. Lead to deeper relationships

Only when you understand yourself on a deep level can you connect with others on a deep level. When you can fully expose yourself to others, superficial connections will fade and those who appreciate you for everything you are will make themselves apparent.

Better self-understanding will lead to easier articulation of your thoughts. Good communication is the basis of deep and stable relationships. When you understand yourself, whenever you have disagreements, you will know where to draw the line between what is compromisable and what is not.

3. Allow for more confident and faster growth

“I'm not afraid of where I'm going / Cause I remember where I've been,” is a lyric from the song “Last Chance” by Gabriel Brown and Nathanael Brown that I believe encapsulates this idea quite well. When you know who you are, you know where you fit in the world and where you want to go. Instead of fearfully following someone else’s path, you will feel confident forging your own path. You will know what you need and what you can sacrifice in order to get to your destination.

What are some methods to aid with self discovery?

So, since self discovery is an essential aspect of life, especially in such a chaotic time, what are some ways to facilitate it? Here are a few suggestions, as long as you are consciously thinking about who you are, any method you are comfortable with works.

1. Start a journal

When you first start journaling, make a list for: things you are proud of (skills, accolades, or characteristics), your shortcomings (undesirable characteristics or things you lack skill in), your goals (short-term and long-term), and things you like and dislike (activities, people, ideas, characteristics, foods, objects, habits, etc.). Try to update this list at the start of every month.

After you’ve done that, identify something you already do everyday (showering, brushing your teeth, eating a meal, etc.), and write in your journal immediately before or after this event. This will make maintaining this habit easier. Every time you write, write about 3 things that happened in the last 24 hours: something that made you happy, something that made you sad/mad, and something you regret. Don’t write about the event, write about what you felt and why; be as specific as possible.

As an example, let’s say your friend gave you an expensive set of pencil crayons you’ve been wanting for a long time. “I was happy because I got a gift” is a vague and unhelpful note. Why were you happy? Because it was expensive? Because it was something you wanted? Because it came from someone you care about? “I was happy because my friend got me a gift I really wanted. The cost of the gift was appreciated but, I cared more about the thoughtfulness of the gift” is a much more specific and useful note.

2. Have discussions with other people about yourself

This is a reminder that it's perfectly acceptable to use other people to better yourself, you just shouldn’t rely on them. This takes some confidence, but ask your close friends what they think of you or ask them to describe you. Often, other people will recognize things about us that we cannot because they are more affected by our qualities. Use others as reminders, not rules; use them to keep you in check, but not control you.