My Rocky Path to Self-Discovery: A Short Confession

How do we justify the ever-changing phases in our life? At what point do we draw the line between who we want to be, who people expect us to be, and who we actually are? I didn’t know either, but what I know is this: when I was 16, much like most teenagers, I desired to be liked. I wanted to have friends more than I desired to be a good person, have strong morals, and have attainable goals. That was it. Much to my dismay, I was heavy, had braces, and couldn't dress myself to save my life. Ultimately, that led to no senior prom date, and a moutain of insecurities. So what did i do? I started to drink, and when I mean dink I meant drink a lot. It made me made me feel cool, wanted, respected even. People started to know who I was and the attention I yearned for was finally starting to follow me. The irony is that no matter what I did, and even in the moments where I thought I had finally made it, the end of the day shown alI I had were empty relationships and upset parents. 

Let's flash forward two years later. I'm off to college and I remember thinking to myself, I can be anybody here, nobody knows me. And that's often a lie we tell ourselves, isn't it?  What better time than to finally become the version of me I've always wanted to be? So what did I do? I rushed a sorority, because that's what a baggy jean wearing, backwards hat and active t-shirt girl belongs, right? And if you knew me at this time you probably can agree that a sorority is the last place you'd ever imagine you'd find me. My problem was not with the girls, because honestly I found some of the most hardworking and lovely people in that community. My problem was that I so deeply desired to be liked, and to feel a part of something that I became, yet again, another version of me. Worse, I even started to judge people, seeing them as, "others" as if somehow I was better than them. There was this imaginary line between "us" and "them," and they too longed for what I had. 

A few years later, determined that school wasn't for me, I yet again embarked on another journey of self discovery when I decided that enlisting in the U.S Air Force would finally lead to finding myself. I wanted so badly to prove my strength, toughness, and perseverance. Luckily, I halted the process before anything got too serious. The truth is, I could probably give you another half a dozen examples of times where I so desperately yearned to find my place in these communities, though these are the 3 that have had the greatest impact on me.  

What I soon came to realize is that much of my life has been a series of repeating patterns where I find something (be it a way of life or a social group,) that I so badly yearn to be accepted by, let it conform me, and when I realize it's not who I'm meant to be it becomes this catastrophic self-identity crisis. Fast foward to almost 6 months ago, I was 23 had just graduated college and realized that I had spent some of the most pivital moments of my life becoming every version of these communities I am not. So, there I was, asking myself the most difficult and daunting question anyone could ask themselves, who am I?

It dawned on me, I might not have a single clue on how to answer that. I started to look at my sister, my girlfriend, and my friends who all seemed to know exactly who they are and what they want. Why couldn't I be them? The answer is really simple, it's because I'm me. And while I might spend the rest of my life in this ever changing manner of finding ways to better myself or indulging in my next greatest adventure, I am still and will always be unapologetically, myself. And that's more than just okay, its beautiful. I am woman. I am gay. I am Christian. I am an entrepreneur. I am a vegetarian (well I try really hard to be.) And I am happy.  

So while I've hit a couple (or several hundred) bumps along the way to become a strong, driven, tenacious, and resilient woman... my darkest moments, my most vulnerable and hidden secrets, and the insecurities are the foundation of who I am and who have yet to become. I read this quote once and it went something like, "I haven't met all of me yet."  And I love that. What a beautiful and blessed thing that is, the never-ending jounrey to knowing yourself.   

By: Karina Martinez | @karimart @librewerycollective

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