The Things I Wish I Knew About Finding Out Who You Are

Uncertainty is a constant in life. We’re disoriented all the time; from coming out of a subway stop to walking from the darkness into the sunlight. Uncertainty is constant because no one can always knows what he or she is doing. Life is too variable. Certainty comes from knowing and knowing comes from guidance and experience. You will learn a lot about many things and become more knowledgable in certain areas in life but time is one of ‘life’s commanders’. It is only with time that you will become certain of anything. 
A major struggle among twenty-something’s of this generation is that we are largely left to fend for ourselves in an ever changing world of existing professions and ones you can create for yourself. A world where every lesson from the past generations is accessible and every opportunity in the future is before us. Some of these new things are still unknown to us yet until we invent them. Creativity, entrepreneurship, and ambition are at an all time high but everyone is lost because there are too many options. How can you know who you are if you don’t know how to pinpoint what you like? With so much opportunity a difficulty, for me I find, is figuring out where to start. 

For me, my life is a constant struggle between who I want to be, who they want me to be, and who I’m being instead. Well, no wonder I’m having issues, I’m routinely working between being three separate people.
If I’m only ‘who I want to be’ then life would have few struggles. I’d be sure of all my actions and I’d be where I want to be, or at least happy with the path I’m on, because all of my decisions to get there would be unadulterated, coherent, logical, and emotionally sound. The catch is that that can never happen because there are always unsolicited, outsider influences such as your parents, your friends, your employer, your culture, even your country. They all have their own idea of who you should be and how you should behave. That is person number two. The person who filters through the influences acting on them first to make decisions. Outside advice can be good, and helpful. It can also be restrictive and not altogether congruent with the idea of ‘yourself’ that you have. But there will never be a shortage of outsider input on your life, in one form or another.
Choosing not to listen to any of it doesn’t make you a rebel or a miscreant. It just means that who you want to be and this ‘second person’ don’t line up perfectly. The third person is the one who tried to balance between the first two people and succumbs to obstacles and temptations along the way. Life is nothing if not random and no matter how sure you are of yourself or how you think you’d act in various situations, you’ll be wrong at least on a few occasions. Some things we just can’t prepare for even if you know they’re coming, some things you never even think about happening. ‘Who I’m being instead’ is the best way I can balance my other two versions and live in real time. You never think of yourself as corrupt. You never think of yourself as a hypocrite, but we all are to some degree. The nature of being human is that we’re flawed but that we strive for perfection regardless. 
To know who you are you only need to be certain about one thing. The rest can be built on to that one foundation. The root of who you are has to be what you believe. Do you believe in a religion? Do you believe in specific virtues and morals? Do you believe in the lyrics of a song? Any sort of belief is the backbone of who you’ll become because beliefs dictate your habits, which affect your behaviour and personality, which affects the friends you keep and the actions you take. The one thing you can know for certain about yourself, generally at this age, are your beliefs — your moral and ethical codes.
You’ve been taught virtues like patience and kindness and truthfulness since you were first able to comprehend anything and now you live the kind of life that a person who has been taught those lessons to them from a young age would.
Everyone is on such a unique and individual path in life that it’s hard to look at someone else’s success story and model yourself after them. Ultimately everyone has to make his or her own decisions. The trick about succeeding in life is taking the decisions before you and opportunities presented in front of you and making the best decision possible in that moment. Like one of my favourite Hugh Macleod quotes says, “Nobody can tell you if what they’re doing is good, meaningful, or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.” And there is a lot of truth to those words, but if you make your decisions based your knowledge, experience, and beliefs then it’s hard to see any decision you make as a “bad” decision.

Photo Courtesy of: © The Things I Wish I Knew

Author Description

Kyle Schmalenberg

I was born into a mixed-raced family in Burlington, Ontario Canada. I grew up in China until I graduated high school and went to Queen's University. I have seen more than my fair share of countries and cultures, and still want to see more. I believe that knowledge is our greatest possession, sharing is our greatest gift and wisdom is something that we practice by making a lot of mistakes. I am currently an aspiring writer and film director. Follow me on twitter @kyleschmals. - - Instagram @biggieschmals

One Response to “The Things I Wish I Knew About Finding Out Who You Are”

  1. June 24, 2015

    Blair Schmalenberg

    Hey Kyle,

    I like the way you think, guess that makes sense seeing that I am your father.
    Here is my two cents worth.
    1) If you want to be a blog writer who gives advice, make your point a little quicker. I am your dad, so I read the whole thing, but I guess many people won’t.
    2) If you want to learn about life, you have to try new things. We only really learn by experience, part of which is listening to other people you meet along the way.
    3) Realize that we are all just learning the same lessons that everyone else throughout history had to learn in their journey through life. It takes some people longer than others, cause they think they know best or want to pretend they know best, but did you ever notice that the wisest, happiest people speak the least.
    4) People want to be happy. To be happy we have to accept that we are not in control, but that we control our response to everything that happens. A way of life, most often defined by a faith, will determine how we respond so pick a way of live that teaches you and helps you respond in a positive way.

    5) People who I have learned the most from. My mom taught me how to love, that is the most important lesson, cause you can’t learn it on your own, you have to be raised feeling it, which is why some people can’t do it. Also why some people transform when they find God and his love. Also why people tend to like me, cause they can feel that I love them. Finally it is the reason you do anything. You will do anything for someone you love, to persue something you love. Your mom taught me how to look at things from more positive angle, which makes everything you want to try right in a way. My dad taught me the value of will power and the power of faith. I always had a standard to follow and a set of principles, so things were less confusing for me than for others. And there are particular Baha’i quotes that very powerfully shape everything I do. Especially the ones about accepting others, loving others and serving others. Lowdru taught me that wise people don’t give much advice, they just encourage people to do whatever it is they want to try, cause they will only learn by experience. From the Boyles I have learned that being part of the community is important, and they mix in so quickly wherever they move to. Your uncle Pat teaches me a lot about patience and letting people learn from experience. He never tells people what to do, just provides a good example and endless support. You would be amazed at his responses whenever we start talking about what to do with grandma and grandpa Schmal. And he is not even their kid.

    Anyway, enough babbling from me. You have shown by your decisions so far and by the way you approach life and treat people that you have learned the most important things in life already, at a very young age. That’s why I am so excited to see what you do and what you will do next. You make me a very proud father cause I truely believe you are a special person in the world who is and will continue to make a great difference in many lives.

    Go Kyle,