You find yourself by not realizing you were lost in the first place – by being blissfully ignorant until something startles you into lucidity. You find yourself by waking up one morning and shocking yourself by something you did or said and no longer recognizing the person looking back at you in the mirror.
You find yourself by realizing you’ve yet to be properly introduced to your actual flesh and blood.
You find yourself by wasting time – by burning through precious, fleeting days in ways that infuriate you in hindsight. You find yourself by going down the wrong streets and taking the wrong turns. You find yourself after realizing far too late you made a faulty choice and after you’ve exhausted your legs from kicking yourself.
You find yourself by realizing you have no choice but to find yourself.
You find yourself through clichés – down avenues that everyone else has gone down. You find yourself down the self-help section of the bookstore and perusing feel-good life quotes and realizing just how unoriginal your quest really is. You find yourself by realizing you’re surrounded by people doing the same thing, to varying degrees and with varying levels of success.
You find yourself in context – and in varying contexts. You find yourself as the scenery shifts and you get to see how much of you was based on the setting. You find yourself as the background changes, as you act and interact, until your spirit is one gigantic, intricate Venn diagram, and at the center is the part of you that doesn’t change, even as the persons, places, and things do. You’ll find yourself as the background and supporting characters evolve and shift and – as you do, too – you can see what stays the same at the heart of it all.
You find yourself through moments of de ja vu – when the smell of morning air or baked bread or car exhaust brings you back with such ferocity that you’d swear you were time traveling. You’ll find yourself as you get lost in memory – practically drowning in it – until the moment dissipates and you’re left with nothing but the present moment.
You find yourself in monotony and boredom – tedium and routine. You find yourself in moments you swear are stuck on repeat. And you find yourself when it’s all happening too fast and you can’t keep up and you swear you’ll burst before you can make sense of it all.
You find yourself by surviving plateaus & dead ends and you find yourself by surviving the onslaughts.
You find yourself through losing. Losing bets, losing out, losing your cool. You find yourself in bitter and beautiful and glorious failures.
You find yourself when it seems like all you find are setbacks.
You find yourself realizing you can’t make sense of it all. You ask yourself the tough questions and get the wrong answers and try all over again. You find yourself after fruitless inquiry, through failed attempt after failed attempt, to the point that you’re ready to call off the search party.
You find yourself through moments of despair and moments that kick you while you’re down. You find yourself when you feel the most stripped down and stripped away and raw.
You find yourself when it feels like all you have is yourself.
But, through all that endless searching, truly you’ll find yourself only when you’re no longer afraid of meeting yourself. When you’re ready to go toe to toe and shake hands with every demon, every dark spot, every gritty aspect. When you want the truth and can handle the truth and can live with the truth. You find yourself when you’re able to stand next to yourself as you truly are and take inventory of every shadow.
You find yourself when you’re brave enough to remove the pretty covering and realize you’ve been there all along.