woman sitting on cliff overlooking mountain

Why It’s Better To Not Know Who You Are

A year ago, I made the decision to leave Hong Kong not knowing how it would all pan out. It threw me into an existential midlife crisis. The idea that I didn’t know who I was was at the heart of the issue.

I still don’t know if I made the right decision. Ask me again in 10 years. We shall see!

I realise it’s impossible to know. If I had stayed, everything might have worked out. Equally, the decision to leave could have ended – and still could end in – an unmitigated disaster.

That was my fear. Based on who I thought I was. If I’m brutally honest, it was my fear about staying as well. This idea that I wasn’t capable. That I would fail whatever I decided to do.

That’s why I deliberated over the decision for so long.

But I didn’t know. I didn’t know how capable I was. I didn’t know that I would be sitting here a year later with two fantastic options on the table. I didn’t know that I would be in some of the best physical and mental shape of my life.

If you’ll excuse me, I might afford myself a rare moment of credit to say just how fucking proud I am. Not just for making these opportunities happen but to do so while pulling myself out of one of the lowest points in my life.

But guess what? I still don’t know who I am. I find myself torn once again. I want to take on both opportunities for different reasons.

I’m curious to see how the career fits a year-on with a different company. I want the adventure that opportunity presents. I also desperately want to do this degree and gain the necessary skills to help others as I have been.

So, that’s what I’s going to do. My short term plan is to defer my masters until I’m settled in this new role. Once I am, I’m going to complete this degree. Then, well, who knows.

We shall see!

Once more, I don’t know if I’m making the right decision. I don’t know if I’ll be able to manage. Or, even if I can, whether or not I should commit to one. Whether I should leave my aviation career grounded.

There is, however, one big difference between where I am now and the person who decided to leave Hong Kong a year ago. I’m much more comfortable not knowing.

I realise who you are is an ever-changing, nonstop discovery. It’s in constant flux. Trying to find yourself is like chasing a ghost. It vanishes the moment you do.

And maybe you don’t want to land at the destination of who you are? The moment you do – the moment you think you know who you are – you limit yourself to that person. It’s easy to get stuck there.

But if you remain open to the reality you don’t know, you remain open to becoming something else. Something better. Something more.

After all, your potential doesn’t lie in the known. It lies in the unknown. It’s what you don’t know about yourself – it’s the strength you don’t know you have – that’s where your potential lies.

That’s where possibility lies.

You can trust me when I say this. Becoming who you might be is far better than knowing who you are.

33 thoughts on “Why It’s Better To Not Know Who You Are

  1. Love your post. I keep coming back some basic advice my father gave me right before my daughter was born. The advice: you make the best decisions you can, where you’re at, with what you know, and then you forget the rest. It may be the right decision, it may be the wrong one, but if you made the best decision you could at the time, you can look yourself in the mirror and will always be fine. Congratulations on the two offers and best of luck.

    1. What Brian said! Seriously though, that’s what makes these kinds of decisions tough. We don’t have a crystal ball. My daughter has often said “I wish someone would just decide for me” when faced with a difficult choice. But that wouldn’t work either because you’d never own the choice.

      In your shoes, I’d probably take the job and do the degree later. As I explained to my daughter when she chose an apprenticeship over university, “university isn’t going anywhere”.

      1. That’s it. Owning the choices you make whatever the outcome. Right or wrong, it’s yours to deal with. Great advice Michelle! Like you say the degree isn’t going anyway. I want to keep that aviation door open for a little while longer. Wishing you well Michelle (and also welcome to the wise and shine team – we’re thrilled to have you onboard!)

    2. That’s amazing advice from your father. Try your best, forget the rest. Thank you for sharing Brian. Wishing you well 🙏

  2. We are so complex. There is no way to plot who we are on a personality graph or define ourselves with a handful of carefully chosen words. Great article, fabulous insight, and intriguing topic.

    1. Thank you Tamara. Exactly right. You can’t connect the dots looking forward. I guess it’s one of those trust your intuition moments. Wishing you well 🙏

    1. Thank you Cheryl. I agree. There is no right answer. Trying to find it can leave you running around in circles. Take you best guess the let live! 🙏

  3. I appreciate your candidness in sharing the highs, the lows, and the uncertainties. It’s truly inspirational to see how you’ve embraced the unknown, and how you’ve found strength in it.

    1. Agreed. Remain curious/open to not having the full picture. It’s that frame of mind that leads to greater insights. Thanks SeekerFive

  4. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to move to Arizona, but I’m glad I did. I think it’s normal to be full of doubts till you settle in after a year or two. Best of wishes.

    1. I certainly was a year ago. Now I realise there is no right or wrong – it exists on a spectrum. Even seemingly wrong decisions come with a silver lining. If you miss one door others open. Thank you for adding your thoughts/wishes. Wishing you the same 🙂🙏

    1. Ah yes – the heart. Doesn’t always correspond with logic. That’s what makes it so tricky/courageous to follow it.

  5. Having taken the long road toward the end of my days, I’ve learned that it is not who I am is not defined by what I do. Who I am is defined by Who I AM. Who I am is a conscious, aware, piece of a Divine Being that connects me with every other conscious Divine Being on the planet. What I do for a living is irrelevant—it’s just a way to help uncover our true selves, ‘who we are’. I recently listened to a podcast about the idea that we are all living inside a simulation, each playing out our own role, doing what we do, unconscious of the fact that it’s all just a simulation. The idea of rewinding and replaying a different script to find a better outcome was an option. Life as a simulation—what a fascinating idea to ponder on for a spell! Oh, and PS: whatever you choose is the perfect choice for you.

    1. Hi Julia. I love the idea about life being a simulation. I read something similar – a quote by Joe Dispenza, “We are not linear beings living linear lives, but dimensional beings living dimensional lives.” I shall keep that idea in mind – Thank you so much for sharing. Wishing you well Julia 🙏

  6. I really like the way you presented your thoughts. I’ve often commented about staying open to unknown possibilities, but I hadn’t thought of it as a way to find out who you are. Very thought-provoking!

  7. Reminds me of playing sport, particularly at a high level. If we ever think we know everything, or have learned how to play the game the best we can, we’re not giving ourselves the chance to continue learning! We’re effectively putting up a roadblock which tells us “I’m good right where I am and can continue to exist here.” If we do it often enough we can eventually get left behind in the journey of our life, and miss out on some fantastic opportunities.

    Great work on mulling over some great opportunities. I am looking forward to hearing how you get on over the next while! 🙏

  8. I wonder 💭 if there is ever a point in our lives when we truly know who we are. But the leap of faith that we take usually define our character(s). Best of luck!

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