Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
A sure way to expand and discover more about yourself is learning new things — hobbies, activities and ideas will all reveal new parts of you.
There will likely come a time in your life that you question how well you know yourself. This might be the result of being stuck in something of a personal rut, or perhaps you feel that your career has plateaued and you no longer have the same enthusiasm for your field that you once did. Many people also find that they’ve dedicated their lives to family or a career without placing enough focus on their own needs and desires.
This feeling of not fully knowing the real you can be disheartening, but it can also be an exciting opportunity. After all, you get to undertake a fascinating voyage of self-discovery! Indeed, one of the richest and most fulfilling ways to truly explore who you are and what is important to you is by taking the plunge and trying out some new things.
Let’s take some time to examine how you can best approach exploring new activities with the purpose of deeping your connection to your self.
Step Outside Your Zone
When you’re attempting to learn more about who you are, you are unlikely to make any gains by staying safely within the bounds of your personal comfort.
Simply doing more of what you’re used to might be less risky, but you rarely get the opportunity to understand how you respond to unusual situations or get a glimpse into dormant or fringe aspects of your personality. When trying new things, you must be willing to step firmly outside of your comfort zone.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should take on some extreme new hobby, though examining how you approach danger can help you to learn more about your response to fear and shift how you deal with risks in life. Rather, this is more about being willing to take the plunge without any guarantee that you are going to excel in these new activities. Having the courage to be open to not succeeding can help you to gain a deeper understanding of your approach to the concept of failure, and what you can learn about yourself as a result of it.
You don’t have to do this through a hobby that you’ll stick with in the long term, either. You can still learn by undertaking certain tasks around the home that you would usually outsource to professionals, for example. Car maintenance can be a good option here. A lot of people are reluctant to engage because there are processes that seem complicated, but there are many elements of vehicle upkeep that can be undertaken with a do-it-yourself approach. Oil changes, replacing spark plugs, even installing brake pads are achievable with a little knowledge and focus — plus, it can be fun to get your hands dirty. Even if you don’t succeed, you learn something about your limits and an appreciation for the skills of professionals.
Engage with Others
Learning about yourself might seem like a personally focused pursuit — but that doesn’t mean you have to try new things that are only solo activities. Participating in group hobbies and interests with new people helps you to gain insights into your needs and wants for social interaction, as well as what kind of friend, team member, or companion you are. Perhaps most importantly, it can also be a way to prevent the sense of loneliness that so many of us are experiencing.
If you haven’t engaged in sports for a while, joining an amateur group or team can be a positive way to go. This can be a competitive activity like soccer or hockey, or simply a physical activity that you all perform together in the same space such as parkour or wall climbing. Taking time to play sports can be life–changing for some people — connecting to one’s body and them to other perople which can develop into supportive, rich friendships, and even providing them with ways to deal with past trauma that had been holding them back. Above all else, you have the opportunity to engage with a more diverse range of people that you can learn from.
One of the great values to connecting with others while trying new things is that there is an opportunity for you to learn from one another.
There are hobbyist groups — maker spaces, craft projects, art studios — in which members can collaborate on activities and share their knowledge. Sometimes the best way to discover more about yourself is by working together with others for mutually beneficial growth. Through these kinds of groups, you not only get to engage in a new hobby and learn a craft, but you also get to understand more about the value of your own knowledge and life experiences to others.
Build New Skills
Taking some time to build a new skill set is a great way to discover more about who you are. In modern society, it is not unusual to find who you are being dictated to you as a result of the career path you chose or the education that you undertook in your formative years. While that might have represented a little of who you were then, that doesn’t mean to say that it is who you are today.
If you have knowledge in purely technical areas, it can be helpful to explore a set of artistic skills to see what interests you about the processes, the emotions it evokes, and the personal approach to techniques you develop. For example, if you want to bridge the gap between the technical and the artistic, photography can be an ideal area to explore. It is a varied enough discipline that you have the chance to explore what really interests you. You might get closer to wildlife with nature photography, or examine your relationship to people through portrait or fashion shots. Even gaining skills in creating abstract photography can help you to discover and express the inner depths of your personality.
It is difficult to really discover yourself if you keep doing the same actions over and over. Whether you start a new hobby or seek a more varied skill set, trying new activities can unlock aspects of who you are, waiting to be uncovered. Take a chance, step out of your comfort zone, and be free to explore possibility.
You may also enjoy reading Keeping It Simple: Single Tasking Is the New Black for Mindfulness & Productivity by Melinda Andrisen