Writing by Omaira Mahan // photograph by Claudia Morales
I was always told that my teen years were the years of exploring and finding my true self. I was always told that it was okay if I didn’t know who I was, and that in a few years, I would find all the answers to my questions. Yet, I found myself at 20-years-old, feeling more lost than ever. It raised the question for me, is our journey of self-discovery ever fully complete?
Growing up, I had tried lots of hobbies from music to sports to arts, and none of them worked out for me. I was constantly scolded about how I ‘wasted’ my time and money going to lessons only to fail, and for a long time I believed it.
I’d scroll through social media and read about those who were younger than me who found their life purpose and were perfectly content with their lives. Seeing these posts always would put me in panic mode and I’d break down, wondering why I wasn’t like them. I’d self-sabotage by constantly reading these people’s overly-glamorized lives on social media, wondering why they had found the answers and I hadn’t.
It took me a lot of time to understand what self-discovery was really about. It didn’t mean owning a thriving business at 18, or having a large following on social media. I came to realize it was a journey, not a destination. I was not a failure and just because I didn’t pursue things I didn’t have true interest in, did not mean I had nothing going for myself.
Self-discovery is an ongoing life journey. It is a journey all about experiences, emotions, trial and error, and these things are not all going to occur in four years of high school. It takes time, patience and experience. I have fallen more times than I can count and I stood right back up each time.
I am 22 now, and I am on a journey where I am not going to find all of the answers about myself any time soon because I have my whole life ahead of me, and I accept it. I am going to find these answers through experiences, through people, and through emotions; through trying new things and discovering new places. I accept myself for who I am – my imperfections, mistakes and everything in between.