I was talking with Suzanne about this process, and she mentioned travel, specifically going on long trips to quiet locations in order to “find themselves.”
While I certainly find road trips to be a great way to create time and space for reflection, I’m not sure that travel is a way to find yourself. Not that it isn’t broadening, nor is it without some intrinsic value, but I want to put a little specificity around the process.
I think that you truly find yourself in your daily routine. You find yourself when you look in the mirror in the morning and evaluate what you see. You find yourself when you interact with others and consider how you feel about those interactions. You find yourself in how you feel about the work you do. You find yourself in your daily desires, in the outcomes that you want versus the outcomes that you get. In all these things do you find yourself.
What you’re doing on a long trip to a quiet location isn’t finding yourself. Your self is right there with you. You’ve found it, and you probably know it pretty well. What you’re doing on that long trip is deciding if you like that self. You’re deciding if the self you’ve built is the self you want. You’re deciding if you want to change that self, and how you might go about it – or if it’s even possible. You’re weighing the results of that potential change, and deciding if you’d like that self better than the one you have now.
Is this an important distinction? I believe it is. I think that if you don’t know yourself reasonably well from your day to day, the first thing you need to do is discover that person through your daily routine, or through consideration of that routine. Don’t take a long trip – it’s a distraction. Take the time to figure out who you are from your daily life. Then decide if you like that person.
Then it’s time for the road trip.