A few weekends ago I had a long conversation with a good friend about how hard it is to realize that you're an adult living an adult life, but you aren't quite sure who you are. It seems really simple, right? I'm Chelsea. I'm a photographer. I live in Texas. I'm me. But the parts that tricky is really knowing yourself. There's a tricky part about growing up that leaves us sort of not knowing... We have this big beautiful life to fill, and if we're not careful we'll start filling it with stuff that we're only meh about. Figuring out more about yourself gives you a deeper understanding of who you are, why you're here, and what you can do with your one big life. And to be honest it's made my life easier! I feel like I'm sort of building this compass to make decisions by. Which is something I've desperately always wanted.
One of the most gratifying things I learned this year was that I really loved risotto. I don't just like risotto, I love it. I love making it. I love the smell of it when it is cooking. I love the process. I love how versatile it is. I love how it makes everyone feel. I love that people think it's impressive that I can make it (I just think it's following directions.) I love every part of risotto. I made risotto three times in one week just because it made everyone around me so happy. And when I make it now I still feel so good about it -- like I'm working at something bigger than dinner. I couldn't explain that feeling for a few months and now I know what it is.
For me I became super aware of the fact that I didn't know myself well one day as my husband left for work at 5:30am. It was in July, which you know already was a super hard month for me. He left and I thought "I wish so badly I had something that was waiting for me this morning." I have set goal after goal to 'find a hobby' and it nothing ever stuck. I was unhappy with myself, my mental state, and my health but couldn't find any sort of physical activities that I enjoyed doing to help improve that feeling. I realized that morning that I didn't know me. I didn't know what I liked or what would make me happy when I was sad.
On a whim I put on a swimsuit, got in a car and drove to a pool. I made myself jump in at 6am on a Tuesday and I haven't looked back. I have always enjoyed swimming, but I didn't know quite how much. I thought that everyone loved swimming. And most people really like it or even love it. But I could do it every day, twice a day if time allowed. I love it. I love it. I love it so much.
So I was there, in the pool, sort of having a crisis of self. What did I do because I enjoyed it? I always solve problems with list making so I started writing things out. I made a few different lists of silly things like '10 places I'd take someone who was visiting" or "Top 5 roadtrips" and then I started lists about things that helped me figure myself out.
This sounds like such a bizarre thing to be talking about on a blog platform, but I think it is so incredibly important. To be in positive relationships with people you have to know and love yourself. To figure out what you want for your life you have to first know yourself and your ambitions. To serve and help others, to be a productive member of society and to live a life that's going to make 80 year old you happy, you have to put in some work to figuring yourself out.
If you're looking for a place to start, try filling out these lists/questions?
- What makes you happy when nothing else can?
For me this is swimming, a Mexican coke, snuggling with my dog Hank, talking to Tucker about random pop culture things and a warm cup of coffee.
- What's something that you surprised yourself by doing?
For me: Starting a business and working for myself for sure.
- What are the top 5 places you'd like to travel to?
Seattle, Greece, Canada, Sydney and Spain.
- What forms of entertainment do you enjoy?
Television, Movies and Podcasts.
- What are five crazy things you want to do in your lifetime?
I want to live in Europe for a few months. I want to swim a large body of water. I want cook my way through a cookbook. I want to shoot the cover of a magazine I currently read. I want to get a tattoo.
Some of these things might sound good to you, or not. That doesn't matter. I gave you my answers because telling you to list out things for self discovery sort of seems silly, and it really isn't. I'm here to make you feel normal, and even cool, about putting effort towards knowing what you like and dislike.
Before I made my first crazy things list I had never said out loud to myself or anyone that I wanted to live in another country for a short time. I'd thought about it several times, but no one knew. Not even me, really. I think that's the beauty of getting to know yourself better, you never know what sort of beautiful things you want for your life.