“Know thyself” – Socrates
Said an ancient philosopher…
But how do you know yourself, honestly?
For the past couple of weeks, I have been feeling rather nostalgic. Maybe it’s because I’ve been redecorating my space and have been decluttering as much as I can.
It has been less of a struggle to let material things go, but the hardest part was letting go of the memories attached to these materials.
This experience led me to facing my past that I hurriedly let go of when I wasn’t ready enough. The place, the people and things that I had done in the past in which I’ve allowed these to become a part of me.
I think I’ve become so attached to who I was a person when I was in the midst of a constant change and adventure—a life that I thought I want to have for the rest of my life.
I still do, honestly. Adventure is still one of my values but more than that I think I’ve allowed the absence of my these external experiences to deprive me.
So much so all I ever wanted was to avoid what’s right in front of me—what seem to my eyes now are mundane and lifeless.
That led me to another phase of picking myself up—finding myself in a world that moves quicker than my ability to cherry pick what could be good for me and what might not after all… be good for me—if that makes sense.
All I’ve ever done was to run away from the reality of my life: home and all the broken pieces that I needed to temporarily leave—only to find that they’re still there when I went back home.
I filled myself with experiences that I thought was harmless and it became the definition of how I wanted my life to be… when I don’t need it for now. At least, not now.
At least, not until I figure out exactly this unsettling feeling. This turbulence that I feel within me.
It’s odd that we’d find ourselves only when it’s the right time to. When we’re young, it’s typical to be turbulent.
When you’re in your early 20s, it’s easy to think that you’ve grown out of your identity crisis just because some of us have seen so much of the world and are even obsessed with the idea of travelling and being out there to “change the world”.
When you’re in your 20s, it’s so easy to think that you know what you really want especially after you’ve felt what it’s like to be lonely and to be alone.
When you’re in your 20s, it’s effortless to believe that you know yourself just because you have a complex mind and the words that come out of you sound a lot more rational than when all you ever knew was the life in your own cocoon.
But the truth is, we’re all still chaotic in our own little ways. No matter how young or old we are.
I don’t know if we’ll ever grow out of our little crises, but that’s the beautiful thing about this experience.
You’re alive. You are evolving. You are on a road of authenticity. You are exploring in ways that others don’t have the right to define how your life should be.
That’s when I’ve realised that you can go to every nook and cranny of the world; you can go to the highest of mountains and deepest of the oceans but still feel empty inside.
You can go out of your way to find the adventure out there but still… you can’t find yourself—you still can’t find the meaning and purpose of life.
And perhaps, the only reason why you’re confused—still in a search of something—is because you haven’t dealt with what is within you.
Your inner world is so strong that the way other people perceive you is how you’d bring yourself out in the open. Or how you’d refuse to bring yourself out in the open.
You shut doors after doors to new opportunities because you’re not sure if it’s the right thing for you.
You’ve let your complex mind to consume every bit that you have left inside of you.
All it ever was… all it has ever been was because you haven’t conversed with your inner world. You haven’t dug deep with who you are essentially. You’re so uncomfortable to talk about this because it’s so real but scary at the same time.
You’re so scared to change because you’re so afraid about what you might lose rather than what you might gain in a long run.
I stand by this so much that nothing—no matter how conflicting and how chaotic the world is out there—can ever define myself unless I allow them to be.
So we give the permission to everything that go beyond the surface of our skin to let them all in and become a part of who we are.
Only if we give this same permission to the signs—that we know hit right there in our guts and heart—and the truth as a part of our growth.
Sometimes, you can’t do it on your own. You need people. You need some accountability.
Don’t ever let that one blot of ink that has dropped into the pure paint—whatever colour that is in an ideal world—change the way we perceive people individually.
You will never allow other people to come in—those who have the intention to help you—if you don’t open up yourselves to change for the better.
You’ll keep pushing people away, thinking that they have a plot against you when they’re authentically being kind and real to you.
You’ll keep trying to find the excuse to think that who you are now is all there is when you know deep inside that you are still searching for something.
A lot of us refuse to go on to that journey because it is so uncomfortable and so complex that it is a lot easier to choose to travel on a path that is a lot smoother and obvious to our eyes.
If there is any way that a sentence can sufficiently summarise everything that I’ve been talking about is this:
“Never have I dealt with anything more difficult than my own soul, which sometimes helps me and sometimes opposes me.” – Imam Al-Ghazali
I can’t tell you enough how much I love this and how this quote rings to be so true to me.
(just a side note: talking to him in heaven is one thing I dream to have one day, insha Allah. lol)
We refuse to go on this journey in solitude because we’d have to fight against ourselves, when fighting is the very act of purifying yourself—not from imperfections—but from the facade that we’ve believed that define us.
So, where do we go from here?
The only way that you’ll ever know yourself is if you’d start to change what is within yourself.
You know that fluttery sensation in your stomach or that sinking feeling in your chest? Find that again. I know it’s uncomfortable but if you’re looking to get out of that rut, do something that makes you feel uneasy.
Better yet, find yourself as the best version that Allah has created you to be, in His eyes, so you wouldn’t let the world to enter your heart. You heart… that is not meant for anyone but the One who has created it.
And remember this:
“…Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (Ar-Ra’d:11)
The only way we’ll ever the see the change around is when we start from ourselves, first and foremost.
So go… and find yourself in this noisy world but do so in a way that you’d go back to who you are essentially: His.
When you do know yourself, you’d know how to control the storm that has to come within you, sometimes, but you’d also know how to settle into a calm water—undisturbed, whole and just you.
That’s it. This is who you are. You just have to be willing to find it.
Did you enjoy this? Did you learn something? Let me know in the comments and share away!