Conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings.
Oh god. I’m gunna be completely honest here. At this very instant, I feel like the worst person to talk about self-awareness. It’s true.
If we decide to define self-awareness as the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings, I’ve been failing at it lately. Quite dramatically.
And let me tell you why and what this looks like and just how it happens.
Having self awareness assumes that you are AWARE of YOURSELF. That means that you can see yourself, for who you really are. Does that make sense? Does that sound like an easy thing to do you guys?
For a long time, I felt like I had some self awareness, but it was some very vague and distant concept of it. And then suddenly, as you start growing into yourself, developing all these knew thoughts and experiences that come with getting older, and getting more “mature”, things get a little murky. Unless you’re a perfectly grounded person to begin with, and was always someone who felt like they had a firm understanding of who they were, and knew exactly who they were meant to become, this murky feeling is bound to happen to everyone.
I feel this has a lot to do with the fact that as children and teenagers, we’re faced with so many unconscious life decisions. When you’re a kid, you don’t necessarily think about who you’re going to be friends with or who you’re going to hang out with. You just let things happen, more or less. You have your marbles and your dolls and you just play with them, because that’s just what you do! When you’re in high school, even though your brain is more developed, you’re still in this place where you’re not completely in control of who you are, and you don’t necessarily think about self-awareness. You go to school, you start to have goals and your own personal ideas and opinions, but they’re very abstract. Nothing about them is real just yet. Your existence is almost, I would say, theoretical. Your life only takes a more practical form, when you start experimenting with your theoretical self you’ve been developing during all these years, and you see how that works out practically. It’s science, really.
If this is making no sense, I understand. This happens a lot.
But look at it this way: imagine your real, true self as a cake. (And a delicious one!)
Your pre-adulthood, otherwise known as your childhood and your teenage-hood, is the dry cake mix. It’s basically in this big bowl, that is your current life. The one you’ve had for about 18 or 20 years. The ingredients are dry, and nothing much is happening, besides “preparations” for the “future”.
When you become an “adult”, or start to become a full “grown” person (or 1m62, whatever you’re genetically blessed with), that’s when things really start to get interesting. You start mixing in the liquid ingredients (can you tell that I’m somewhat of a baking nerd?), a.k.a, real life stuff, and that’s when shit really starts to get interesting (or seriously frightening).
So you have the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients mixing together, its wet, it’s sticky, it’s bubbly, the ingredients are kind of fighting against each other, to make one, nice, silky, homogenous cake batter. And before that beautiful buttery mixture happens, you dunno what the hell you’re supposed become or who you want to be. You could be a delicious red velvet cake, or you could just as easily be a big bowl of disgusting goop, for all you know. (Sorry, no – in this metaphor, you’re always going to end up as a nice and delicious cake. There’s always a happy ending. The point is, you get to choose what kind of cake you become).
When does the self-awareness come into the recipe? Self awareness is difficult to discern during the mixing-together phase. Self awareness is the secret ingredient that’s mixed into the other ingredients in the bowl. It was in the dry preparation, can never evaporate in the baking process, and it has also never really been activated. It’s within you, always. It’s the ingredient that makes your delicious red velvet cake amazing. Not just good. Not just delicious. But ground-breaking-crazy-balls-amazing. Self-awareness is the secret ingredient that not only makes your cake taste amazing, it makes all the ingredients bind together once it comes out of the oven. You need it in order for things to be chemically balanced.
Self awareness is something that is, and will always be, available to you. But you probably can’t taste it yet, because you’re taste buds aren’t sophisticated enough, and your ingredients aren’t all mixed together yet. And you certainly can’t feel it or witness it, because you haven’t baked your cake, yet!
Switching from the baking metaphors, as a child or a teenager, self-awareness isn’t something you’re particularly worried or thinking about. Most of us live outside of ourselves, because we learn from a very early age that there’s this world outside of us, and we have to deal with it. But we rarely learn how to deal with ourselves. We learn that we need to get along with others, that we need to do/not do certain things, that there’s certain people we need to please, and certain things we need to avoid in order to be accepted by the people around us. But we rarely ask ourselves: “What about me”? “How to I get along with myself? What pleases me? What do I need to avoid in order to be accepted by myself?”
Basically, self-awareness can’t happen until you start opening up the conversation with yourself, about the place you want to hold in the real world (a.k.a what kind of cake do you want to be).
If you think you’re narcissistic if you think about yourself, you’re not alone. That’s part of the reason many of us take so long to become self-aware. We learned that thinking about ourselves is selfish. But, who the fuck cares – you cannot go through life without being at least a little bit selfish. And I’m not talking selfish as a dirty version of the word. I’m talking about the certain level of selfishness you have to have, in order to really LIVE with yourself, you know?
Just think of it this way: you’re the only person you’re really going to spend the rest of your life with. Marry whoever you want, have as many friends as you can have, but whenever they are not there, you’re alone. You’re with yourself. So you better make fricken sure you know who you’re dealing with.
I said at the beginning of this post, that I felt like the worst possible person to talk about self-awareness. And while I understand the concept (nearly) perfectly, I’m yet to practice it consciously. Unconsciously, I believe we all know everything about ourselves – we’re us, after all. We’ve gotta be self-aware on some level. But at times, I have no clue what I’m feeling, and I don’t always understand myself. Either because I’m avoiding it, or because I just don’t get it, yet. I feel like my dry ingredients and wet ingredients are still mixing in the bowl of my current life, and they’re not yet decided what they wanted to be together yet.
But, what comes as a relief, is that I know that self-awareness is in the mix, and that eventually, I will be able to taste it and to feel it. And so will you. Eventually, my cake batter will become a nice, creamy, dreamy mixture, and I will be able to dip my fingers into the batter and have a true taste of my own life, before officially baking it in the oven. Self-awareness is becoming the person you’re meant to be, and knowing who that is inside out.
So, you can bake your cake, and eat it, too.