Aristotle once said, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." Whenever I hear that quote, I can't help but think to myself how true it is. Personally, I didn't even begin to understand the word wisdom until I began to understand myself. I spent most of my life attempting to be someone that I wasn't and it wasn't until college that I had the opportunity to discover who I really was.
College is the perfect place to discover who you are. You are surrounded by new faces, places, and opportunities. It can be very easy to get lost in the desire to be that person that fits in. After all, who wants to go back to being the nerdy, awkward kid that was always alone. I definitely didn't, and, I admit it, I fell into that trap. I tried so hard to reinvent myself that I lost the few friends that I already had. Because of this and the stress that college put on me, I began to suffer from anxiety and depression. I didn't want to admit it, but I needed help. It got to the point where I was hospitalized. Now I'm better and it is my goal to assist fellow students in their journey to find themselves and help them avoid the mistakes that I made.
The purpose of this post is to enlighten you on the various ways you can explore and identify your core values. Before college, many of us never took the time to explore what is important to us in life. Once you recognize your core values, the road to discovering what makes you unique becomes clearer. So what is a core value anyway? Your values highlight what you stand for. They represent your unique, individual essence. They guide your behavior, providing you with a personal code of conduct. For example, my personal values include integrity, wisdom, happiness, and peace. Below are some steps for you to follow to identify your own core values:
Step 1: Identify times in your life when you were happiest.
Make sure to include examples from all parts of your life: personal, professional, spiritual, etc. This will ensure some balance in your answers.
- Think about the following:
- What were you doing?
- What contributed to your happiness?
- Were you with others?
Step 2: Identify the times where you were most proud.
- Once again, take into consideration examples from all aspects of your life.
- Ask yourself:
- Why were you proud?
- What contributed to that sense of pride?
Step 3: Identify the times when you were most fulfilled
- What need or desire was fulfilled?
- How and why did the experience give your life meaning?
Step 4: Determine your top values based on your experiences of happiness pride and fulfillment.
Think about what factors contributed to your feelings of happiness, success, and fulfillment. Think about what was the most important thing at that moment. Was it punctuality? Honesty? Recognition? Come up with a list and, from that list, you will begin to recognize trends that represent your core values.
One thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a perfect person or a perfect life. While figuring out exactly who you are, you are bound to make mistakes--own it. We all make mistakes. Our mistakes play a huge role in who we are. The biggest step in this journey is building the confidence to be who you truly are, despite what others may say. It may feel like an impossible task, but, trust me, it's not.
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Want to hear more from Elangeni?
Check her out on Instagram. Elangeni is a 21-year-old pursuing a Master's of science in Software Development and Engineering. Although computer science is her passion, she has always enjoyed writing. Whether it be journaling, writing poetry, or writing short stories, writing has always held a special place in her heart. Throughout her undergraduate years, her love for writing helped her discover many things about herself. Now, she strives to help others discover who they truly are and develop the self-esteem needed to succeed in the world.
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