“What are you passionate about?”
The question was posed by a trusted mentor. We were midway through a pizza dinner, and I can still envision her sitting across from me, her face bright and expectant.
I imagine my face looked disconcerted. I was about 21 years old, and I was at a loss for words.
I seem to recall mumbling something about “helping people,” which was true, but pretty vague. (In hindsight, I can see that I did have passions and things I really liked, I just hadn’t yet conceptualized or articulated them as passions. For example, I love reading and writing. But at that time, I didn’t recognized them as valid things to be passionate about.)
I left that encounter feeling somewhat embarrassed that I hadn’t been able to offer a clear answer, but the question sparked something in me. I started asking, What am I passionate about? What do I really like? What am I not passionate about? I began to glean information about myself, and over time who I am came into sharper focus.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been sharing about the value of knowing and accepting ourselves. I've focused particularly on our core preferences—those unique things that we love (or don't love) that give shape and flavor to who we are.
But what if you don’t have a firm grasp on who you are and what you love? If you’re looking to do some self-discovery, here are a few ideas to get you started. Because you can't be yourself if you don't know yourself.
- Ask God. He created you, and I believe your purpose ultimately flows from relationship with Him. He knows you better than anyone and He will show you unique aspects of yourself.
- Pay attention. Become an investigator of yourself. Take notes. Observe. What inspires deep joy? What are the things you hate to do? What habits seem to make life flow more smoothly for you? What “recommended” habits don’t seem to fit your personality or natural rhythms?
- Ask friends or family what they see as your top skills, gifts, preferences or interests. Those who know us can offer key insights into who we are and/or validate what we already know about ourselves.
- Take a personality test. A good one can give you a lot of great information, such as how you gain energy, whether you prefer to be spontaneous or plan ahead, and whether you prefer to make decisions based on what “feels right” versus logic. A really great (and free) one I recommend can be found at 16personalities.com.
- Try new things. We often don’t know what we like—or don’t like—until we try it. I discovered the joy of snowboarding when I was crazy enough to strap a board to my feet and launch myself down an icy hill. On the other hand, I found out that soccer is not for me by playing for two hot and miserable summers in elementary school.
In the last few weeks, I’ve talked a lot about our likes and dislikes. There’s more to us than just our preferences, but I do believe they are an important part of ourselves. Not only are they a big part of what makes us unique, but being in tune with them can play a huge role in fulfilling our purpose and enjoying our lives.
God created each one of us uniquely and wonderfully for a reason. By discovering embracing who we are, we can take our place in this lavish bouquet of humanity, where we each bring our own shade of beauty, talent, and grace. Don’t miss out on your place in it!
Consider: Where are you in the journey of self-discovery? Do you feel like you have a pretty good grasp on who you are, or do you feel like you're just beginning to discover yourself? I'd love to hear about it!
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Photo courtesy of ractapopulous via Pixabay