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The Road to Self-Discovery

What an interesting journey it has been these last 360 days.

If you know me, you are probably familiar with my life changes in the past year, while the rest of you probably have no idea who I am, where I am or what I am doing. I am a 23-year-old, who graduated, moved away from home, and started a new job all within the last year. Well, more like within three months last summer of 2018. I have found recently that writing can be very therapeutic for me, even though almost everything that I write never sees the light of day. So, with that being said I wanted to share my life lessons, trials, and discoveries in my last trip around the sun.

I graduated from Johnson University last May with a degree in audio production (technically, I didn’t graduate until July because of my internship credit, but I wanted to pretend I did for two months). I spent about two months interning at an audio production/install company that was about an hour away from my hometown. I can tell you with confidence that I made the right decision in choosing them, because it threw me right into the deep end and made me learn how to swim in the live production world to which I am beyond grateful for.


During this time, I was mentally and emotionally readying myself to move back down to Knoxville to become the new Technical Director for video production at JU. I know, I graduated with an audio degree. What am I doing taking a video job? See, the thing about my time at JU is that I was able to both get my degree in audio production, but also work in the best department on campus, Media Services. That’s where I learned everything that I know about video production. My boss took me under his wing and humbly passed so much of his vast knowledge along to me. Did I retain all of that knowledge? No, sir. Have I now? Heavens no! I still have a long way to go! But it is because of his patience, time, and teacher-like personality that I am where I am today (with the help of God, obviously). Come late July I was moving back to Tennessee to start my new job in the department I loved. It was so great to be back in the presence of the Great Smoky Mountains and many good friends again. However, what eventually came next was something I never planned.


Throughout the first semester, I was getting used to being the boss of my old coworkers, transitioning between student and staff, moving permanently 6 hours away from my family, working my first full time job, and dealing with all other things that freshly new graduates deal with everywhere. It wasn’t long before I started to struggle with who I was, what I was supposed to be doing, and where I was supposed to be at.


It was during the beginning of this time when I started to really look into the Enneagram and study my personality type. I’m a type 2, the helper. The enneagram doesn’t just tell you your personality, but it explains weaknesses, strengths, when a type is leaning to an unhealthy state and when they are at their best. It’s so much more than a personality test. In my opinion, it is a tool that aids individuals in learning how to self-care for themselves. And honestly, the more you understand your type the more uncomfortable you will probably get because you will start to recognize those negative traits or even those embarrassing traits that you so desperately don’t want to admit you have.


As a 2, I was putting all my needs to the side and doing whatever I could to help others. Though this might sound like the type you hope to be because helping people is nice and makes you a “good” person, I immediately began to get uncomfortable as I read deeper in to WHY I was doing that. I hate to admit it, but 2s feel as though they have to earn their love in actions that serve and help other people. They have a desire to be loved, but only believe doing stuff for others will allow them that love. “If I do all this stuff for them, then maybe they will like/love me.” Yeah…again this isn’t something I like to admit because it is sad, right? But it’s true and I began to hate my type the more I understood it.


Being a 2 was causing me so much stress, which brings me back to last fall. I was falling hard. I was stressed all the time, volunteering to do way more than I had room on my plate and ignoring my own needs. I was also struggling with my work performance. I’m a perfectionist which meant when technology didn’t want to work and hiccups happened because we essentially started over with a brand new media team, I blamed myself and I rarely forgave myself, even though a lot of those circumstances were out of my control. This was my job, and I was failing at it. Or so I thought...


By winter, I quit caring. I quit caring on just about everything. I would go to work, do my job, come home, volunteer with a/v jobs a couple times a month, but I couldn’t find joy in anything that I was doing for a long time. Life was passing, but I was stagnant. My faith took a nosedive. I was angry and confused. Why? Why did God let me move down here when I specifically asked him to intervene if I shouldn’t? It would have saved me from all of this heartache.


Fast-forward to February. In the span of two months, many conversations had happened between me and two very important people in my life. One helped me in my journey of understanding who I was as a person and how to self-care. The other simply stated, multiple times so that it was engraved in my head, what I needed to hear for the past 5 months. What I thought in my head and what was actually true were completely different. I went to counseling a few times to help finish what I had been working toward, which helped so much, and I encourage everyone to seek counseling, even if it seems like such a small reason. It’s not and trust me, they can help you with ANYTHING.


After a couple crazy months and more details than you people need to know, I can honestly say that as I sit here and type this up I am not who I was a year ago. I am not the martyr, the non-confrontational and inability to say no person that people have known me as for years. I’m now more self-aware than I’ve ever been in in my life. I know when I’m hitting my limit and can politely say no. I know when I need to self-care. I can ask for help. I can have tough conversations. I no longer struggle with my performance at work. And I can share a new experience that I didn’t have before to people who are going through the same.


If you’re struggling, trust me when I say you’re not the only one. I was the girl who was always just happy to be here. I never imagined I would go through this trial. And I know plenty of people who are going through similar situations. Some people hide it, others don’t. Depression is very real because we’re human. When self needs aren’t met it’s only a matter of time before the down hill spiral.


I want to encourage each of you to take the time to self-discover. It is so important to understand how you operate, react, and manage life’s stresses and anxieties. If that means taking the enneagram test, then do it. It worked for me. If it is simply taking the time to study the way you react or what helps you decrease stress, do it. God needs you to be his light in the world, but you can’t do that unless you are taking care of yourself first. Otherwise, that light isn’t going to shine. I for one can attest to that.


I am just one example of many who have been ignorant of their needs. I wish it didn’t take me this long to realize it, but I am happy that I can share my journey with you in hopes that it will lead you to taking the time to know yourself and your limits. I’m still recovering, but I’m happy to say that I am working on that uphill climb out of the valley and I can already see the sunrise around the mountain.


“So God, why?”


Because I guess throwing me into the deep end worked before and forcing me into self-discovery was way more spiritual than I ever thought it was.


-Alyssa

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