How To Find Your True Self

To live A Chic Life you need to express your true self, know how to find your true self. Yet as we get older, many of us lose touch with our true self, with the part of us that feels most… authentic.

We have families, and we make sacrifices for the sake of harmony and collective happiness.
We have jobs, and we adjust to fit in with colleagues and corporate culture.
We have friends, and we do what we can to keep their approval, feel part of the group.
We see how people behave on social media and popular culture, and we think that’s how we should be too.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this, of course – we are social animals, hard-wired to care what others think. But some of us care too much, or adjust ourselves too much. Until we wake up one day, look in the mirror, and wonder who the hell we’ve become. Where have our true selves have gone?

From memoirs I’ve read and conversations with friends of a certain age, nearly everyone feels this way to some extent. Do you?

We are social animals, hard-wired to care what others think. But some of us care too much. Until we wake up one day, look in the mirror, and wonder who the hell we’ve become.

Hey, where’d you go?

Recently several things have got me thinking about my essential self, the me that feels most ‘true’. I estimate she’s about 16 or 17, an age before which I got on a very un-me path.

At 16, I wanted to be a psychologist or writer. I wrote stories and poetry. I was always doing art projects. My friendships were few and deep (as much as they can be with the wisdom of 16 years olds). I spent countless hours alone, enjoying solitude and reading and writing and being a massive nerd. I was ambitious and confident and independent. I was kind and compassionate but didn’t feel responsible for others.

In the years that followed I did a commerce degree (I could not be less a commerce-degree kind of person), began a corporate career (I mean, what?), and mixed with people with very different values to my own. I worked hard to fit into a culture that was as alien to me as class to a reality star. I began to feel over-responsible for everyone and everything. I got so, so far from home.

Now, as much as I love psychoanalyzing myself and everyone I know, stroking my beard and drawing epiphanic conclusions in a horrendous German accent, this is not about that, not about the how or why. This is about re-connecting with our true selves.

Somehow I’ll find my way home

The thing about my true self? I like her! She’s fun and original, and I’d like to have her around more.

I imagine you also feel an affection and wistfulness for your deeper self, the one beneath the compromises and conformity. There’s no need to abandon everything about the present you; still, perhaps you’d like to be more of her, of the original, unexpurgated you?

But how? How do you undo decades of complying with expectations and obligations, how do you remove the layers of superimposed me and find the real me underneath? Here are some thoughts.

There’s no need to abandon everything about the present you; still, perhaps you’d like to be more of her, of the original, unexpurgated you?

Breadcrumbs: How to find your true self

At what age did you feel most yourself? Instead of thinking about this for 30 seconds before giving up, allow yourself to explore. Write a few pages in a journal. Reflect on the question during a meditation. Ponder as you drift off to sleep. If nothing comes, repeat or swap the exercises over several days.

When you have a sense of the age when you felt most you, choose some links back to that period, to re-awaken that part of you. I think of these as breadcrumbs leading me home.

Music

Music is a wonderful way to re-access your younger self. Look for playlists for the relevant years on Spotify, or google songs from that era and assemble your own track list.

I love listening to my eighties playlists in the shower, but you could listen on a walk or whenever you have time to yourself. Enjoy the nostalgia and sweetness.

Songs like We Belong, Out of Touch, I Can Dream About You instantly carry me back to another, truer me. What songs do this for you?

Fragrance

We all know how evocative aromas can be, little olfactory time machines transporting us to emotions past. Is there a candle or incense you used to burn? A scent you used to wear?

I recently bought two fragrances my younger self loved. The first is Youth Dew, my first ever expensive perfume, given to me by my parents for my 16th birthday. The second is Aromatics Elixir. I wore this in my early 20s, but it’s close enough – and it always garnered me compliments. I can’t wait to wear them again, and excited to see how they make me feel. What perfumes evoke a more authentic you?

When you have a sense of the age when you felt most you, choose some links back to that period, to re-awaken that part of you. I think of these as breadcrumbs leading me home.

Activities and interests

The activities I most associate with the essential me, and the ones I find it hardest to return to now, are artistic ones. Creative writing, poetry, painting – all are things the superimposed, adaptive me considers a waste of time. You should be at a networking event! Haha no; even my adaptive self isn’t that crazy.

Rediscovering creativity continues to be a deep challenge for me – there are many blocks and tons of inner conflict. So I’ve approached it obliquely.

First, I’ve given myself plenty of other people’s art. My Instagram follows are largely art museums, artists, and calligraphers. I have a wallpaper app on my Mac that cycles through great works from major collections, two high quality page-a-day calendars with classic and contemporary artworks, and an app that serves up a painting and concise description daily. I’ve signed up for art appreciation lectures, which I watch each weekday evening.

Second, I’ve started my own art practice with calligraphy and lettering – I can trick myself into feeling this is not ‘really’ art. But of course it’s a gateway art practice that can lead to the hard stuff, and I’ve already signed up for a watercolor class.

Creative writing, by which I mean storytelling, is at the far end of my challenge, and I’m not there yet. But I’m on the path! What activities did the authentic you enjoy – and how can you do them today?

The activities I most associate with the essential me – creative writing, poetry, painting – all are things the superimposed, adaptive me considers a waste of time.

We belong together

The part of ourselves who feels most us, most authentic – she may have been pushed aside as we’ve grown up, as we’ve adjusted to what’s expected of us, to what we’ve internalized and expected of ourselves.

If that part of you is calling to you, listen. If you want to find your true self, follow the breadcrumbs. To be your most chic self, find her.

How To Find Your True Self

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The ‘Chic Life’ Philosophy

To live by conscious choice and not convention or habit. To have less, but better quality. To do more of what matters and less of everything else. To live with grace, elegance, style. To show love, kindness, compassion. To experience inner peace and joy…  Read More

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C’est Moi, Michele

Salut, I'm Michele. For me, 'chic' is more than how you look - it's how you do everything. A chic life is personal style, an organized home, elegance, confidence, living well, self-care, minimalism, joyful work, and happy relationships. And it all starts with knowing who you are. Thank you for joining me! Read More