Do you know yourself? That may seem like a dumb question at first, because how could you not know who you are. If anybody knows you, it’s you! Yet, as I struggled to choose a career path in college, I realized I did not know myself as well as I thought I did. What does Jeffrey Chen want to do with his life? What is he good at? What is he not so good at? It took me all the way until my senior year of college to truly come up with solid answers to these questions, even though the world expects us to know them by our senior year of high school!
The problem is we live in a society so focused on doing. We are always on the move, whether at school, at work, or at home. It’s a “GO GO GO” mindset. And while we pile up experiences, the issue is we never stop and reflect to learn from them, especially to learn about ourselves. We assume we already know ourselves best. While this may be the case, that doesn’t mean we know ourselves WELL. Quick, name your five biggest weaknesses. Unless you have a pre-prepared answer from job interviews, it will probably take some time to come up with them. That’s what I thought.
However, entering my senior year of college, I really had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. I finally took time to look inside myself and ask, “Who am I?”, and from a Christian perspective, “Who did God create me to be?” After all, I believe God created each and every one of us in His own image, so I wanted to know why he made me the way I am.
Now, there’s no straightforward way of figuring this out, but I can share how I went about it. I thought about my favorite classes: management and psychology courses. I thought about what I enjoyed in my internship experiences: building relationships with my co-workers. I thought about times where I felt like I was my best self: talking one-on-one at a coffee shop with Young Life friends. I thought about what my friends admired about me: they told me I’m a good listener. I thought about the results of a couple personality tests I took (Myers-Briggs and Enneagram): they told me I was a mediator and a peacemaker.
Reflecting on all this information, I noticed a theme that you may have picked up on: working with people. I enjoy (and think I’m somewhat good, at but who knows) learning about people, befriending people, having conversations with people, listening to people, and helping bring peace to people. It is in my DNA. And as a result, I am now pursuing a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy to become a mental health counselor. And while this path makes complete sense to me now, it did not one year ago simply because I was asking the wrong question.
I now realize it isn’t about “What do I want?” I want success, a family, and to help others, but that was no help in narrowing down my career path because I could accomplish all that in a thousand different ways. Instead, it comes down to self awareness – “Who am I?” Only then did I know what choice was right for me.
So, who are you? That is the question you need to answer if you truly want to figure out your path, your purpose, and ultimately not what you want, but what you were made for. I encourage you to take time to reflect on your life experiences and write down what you can take away from them about yourself.
- What energizes you?
- What gets you going?
- What do you love to learn about or talk about?
- What qualities do others see in you (ask your friends and family)?
- When are you at your best?
Take some personality tests too. I really like the Myers-Briggs test (I’m an INFP!), but check out others too. It’s crazy how accurate they can be when you start reading descriptions of your personality type. Once you do all that, I promise you’ll have a much better picture of who you are meant to be. I wish you the best in your journey of self-discovery and please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or want some more advice on how to become more self-aware. Remember, self awareness is key to figuring out who you God created you to be!
If you liked this Self Awareness is Key post, you might also like: