One of the most frequent requests our Unit receives and is expressed in many different ways is “I would like to know myself”. But who is this self that, while accompanies us on the journey of our life from beginning to end, we need in various phases to discover or get to know him or to like him in order to walk as harmoniously as possible together?
Comments are often made about various aspects the concept of self, such as “I’m not confident”, “I do not like being…”, “I am a weak character”, “I feel ugly”, with most focusing on what they perceive as negative elements of their personality. The concept of self is not something one-dimensional, but according to Dermitzaki and Efklides (2000) it “summarizes what the individual perceives or believes about himself (self-perception), but also what he feels about himself (self-esteem), one’s self-efficacy beliefs and what others think he/she thinks about himself/herself”.
The image everyone has of themselves develops as they grow in interaction with the environment in which they find themselves. From a very young age the child expresses some characteristics, which are interpreted in some specific ways by its family, as well as the child itself perceives and interprets in some of its own ways the family behavior. Gradually, over time, as a person develops and through the relationships in which he/she participates and interacts, a sense of self begins to be created that becomes somewhat stabile towards the end of adolescence. However, this is something constantly evolving, as in the course of life everyone constantly encounters new experiences, which change him/her and which have to be incorporated into oneself’s image.
Usually, the reason for considering issues that concern oneself is the various crises that appear in one’s life. Such a crisis is likely to occur during the student years, when young people are in the emerging adulthood phase, a developmental stage where young people are not teenagers but do not have the full responsibilities of an adult. It seems that events such as a separation, changes in friends, or even the fact that someone may not be satisfied with his studies give rise to this journey of search for “who am I?”.
“I chose these studies because I listened to my parents, but what I really want to do is journalism”
G., 22 years old
“I understand that I am not amused by the same things that amuse my company, I feel different”
M., 20 years old
While life begins with a person expressing only one’s personal needs, through the life journey and the socialization processes, one learns to put aside one’s own needs, giving weight to what needs to be done in order to to please others. This is an attempt to meet a very basic human need, the need for belonging in groups and be loved. This ambivalence follows more or less all people throughout their lives, since it’s not always possible one’s actions to please everyone else. The challenge is not to choose whether to please oneself or others, but to find a personal balance to the extent that it satisfies one’s personal needs, while maintaining connection with the important people in one’s life. The feeling of inner peace and that one can manage any misdeeds that may occur, is usually associated with achieving a balance between personal needs and devotion to important others.
In fact, this is a continuous and dynamic process, which requires everyone to be aware of both with their own needs, as well as with their commitment to the relationships that are important to them. It does not happen automatically, but requires a break from the frenetic pace of modern age life, giving space to hear one’s inner voice. In addition, it is useful to identify one’s reserves (at the level of physiology, patterns of action, symbolism), which affect the actions and the ways in which one relates and to be able to utilize them. The above are needed to be linked to the evolutionary duty that everyone has towards themselves, that is, to develop their talents and skills, but also towards the community, in the sense of maturing and taking on more responsibilities.
“Discovering” oneself is more like a journey without a specific destination, while having a constantly changing map and with the additional challenge of locating one’s personal holdings. Each person is called to balance his various inner aspects and in addition each new experience he lives, in such a way that he is able to relate effectively to the other people around him, while being in an environment that is also in a state of constant change. This is not easy, which is why many choose to follow the rules that govern the appropriate behavior in each space and time. But for those who start this journey, no matter how difficult, soul-shattering and lonely it may be in the beginning, the satisfaction and peace it offers is the greatest reward and transforms the difficulties into advantages.