Being true to yourself vs. being stuck in your comfort zone

I’m a big believer in being true to yourself! I believe that self-awareness is one of the most important ingredients of a happy life. I think that we all have certain traits, abilities, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses that are just who we are and the best thing we can do for ourselves is to accept them and figure out how we can leverage them to live a happy and fulfilling life. 

However, lately, I’ve been thinking about the limitations of ‘being true to yourself.’ Yes, it’s important to know ourselves and live life our way, but sometimes I wonder if we’re at risk of using “it’s just who I am” as an excuse to avoid situations and things that are out of our comfort zone. 

I’ve been reading Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” recently, and it made me think about how so much of what we do and who (we think) we are, are habits. It made me realized how much of who we are as adults can be linked back to little habits we picked up along the way – many of them during childhood and before we were really able to assess and decided if we wanted them in our lives. Our habits become part of who we are and how we do things to the point where it is hard (maybe impossible) to distinguish between whether something feels right because it’s really who we are or because it’s how we’ve always done it (habit). Add to that the fact that most of us are generally more comfortable with what’s familiar to us and it’s easy to see how the lines between being true to ourselves and simply not wanting to take risks and leave our comfort zone can become blurry. 

How do you know if you’re being true to yourself or if you’re just being who you’ve always been?

How do you know when to stay on course and when it’s time to step outside your comfort zone? 

I’ve been thinking about this in regards to many areas of my life. However, the one I keep coming back to is my independence and need for alone time. Am I independent because it’s who I really am or because it’s how I was raised and it’s become a habit over time? Do I say “No” to opportunities to meet new people because I really am more true to myself that way or because I don’t want to step out of my comfort zone? Do I really prefer being independent and on my own or have I just been that way for so long that it’s become my normal and what feels right? Am I being true to myself or am I being stuck in my comfort zone? 

When I talked about this with a friend of mine, she made a very good point. She said to not only think about who we are today but about who we want to be in the future. If you picture your life 10, 20 or 30 years from now, what do you see? What do you think will make you happy? If what you envision for the future aligns with where you are at today and the path you’re on, then you’re probably being true to yourself. If not, there is a good chance that you’re stuck in your comfort zone instead of being true to yourself. 

I’ve been thinking about this ever since we’ve had that conversation. I think it’s such an important point and something we often overlook. We’re so focused on being who we are, on being true to ourselves, that we forget to think about who we want to be. In the end, what’s the point of (thinking you are) being true to yourself if it’s not really who you want to be – now or in the future? 

That’s not to say that we should always just focus on who we want to be.

A big part of being happy is being able to accept ourselves for who we are and making the most out of what we have. However, considering who we want to be is probably the best way to know if we’re being true to ourselves or if we’re stuck in our comfort zone. If who you want to be is different from who you are, and it’s something you can change, then it’s probably worth working on that. 

I can’t say that I’ve fully figured this out for myself yet, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that true happiness comes from finding the right balance between being true to who you are and being true to who you want to be (today and in the future).

Right now, I feel like who I want to be and who I am are very well aligned. Looking ahead into the future and envisioning what will make me happy has confirmed something I kind of already knew: I can see myself living a very happy life being independent, but I can also picture myself being very happy giving up some of my independence at some point – for the right person. I feel like I’m on the right track for now – and who knows what the future brings. 

What about you? Are your being true to yourself or are you stuck in your comfort zone?