Through introspection I have learned to get to know myself all over again. I have always been concrete in who I am as a person, even when I was younger, there was never a question of who Kristine Graham was, never. However, the way I defined myself and the way I valued myself changed as I got older, which is expected, but along the way my introspection was stagnant, and that restricted my growth. I didn’t notice it until I realized that I couldn’t articulate who I was anymore, and that scared the shit out of me, because I’d never experienced that before. It happened right after my dad died, that was a rough period of my life for a lot of reasons.
Not only did my dad die, but I was transitioning out of the military, and I had no idea what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it. I had to be introspective, I had to ask myself the hard questions, be honest, and vocalize that effectively.
Through it all, I realized that there was nothing more important than my introspection and my pursuance of MY truth. I couldn’t afford to NOT be introspective, everything in my life was changing and in the midst of it all I was losing myself. Now, this is not to say that my introspection is always positive or always results in an optimistic perspective on life, because it does not, BUT through introspection I learned how to be honest about it all, the good, bad, depressing, all of it.
My introspection gave me the strength to be vulnerable, negative, mad, sad, depressed, and then gave me the strength to overcome it.
My introspection has given me strength and taught me to be honest about the shit that is scary and hurtful. My introspection has given me the gift of empathy, patience, and resilience in its purest form. I’ve made the space for me to be, without asking for permission. I have carved a path of my truth and I define it how I see fit, free of all influence, be it family, friends, or society. But it wasn’t easy.
I had to challenge myself to be honest about myself. I had to challenge my thought process and the way I valued myself without basing it on what I already knew. I had to learn new shit, and that meant a lot of different things for me.
As a child, everything is a learning opportunity. School, home, games, interactions with other children and adults, everything. As an adult, the learning curve drastically decreases. A lot of people say that you learn something new every day, but that’s not always true. As working adults, you’re not always in an environment that fosters an opportunity to learn something new on a daily basis. We have to examine our environment in order to ensure that we are actively engaged so that we can learn something new. Group-think is real, toxicity is real, and the older we get, the more we THINK we know. So, we have to evaluate our peers, friends, associates, family members, any organizations we belong to, what we allow in our lives, all of it must be carefully examined. That’s what I did. I had to.
I realized that I was coddling myself by intentionally staying in the same headspace from 16-20. I was doing myself a disservice by not exploring the “why” throughout my life during that time, and in doing so, I was limiting my intellect. I had a lot of catching up to do.
I had to distance myself from people who were toxic, stagnant, or unwilling to change/grow, no matter how much I didn’t want to, I HAD to. My mental health, stability, sanity > their comfort and feelings. It was a no brainer. I also had to figure out what was happening to and around me and why. I had to gain knowledge on topics that I didn’t know much about, and I had to expand my knowledge on the shit I knew very well because there’s always room for growth.
I also had to read. I tried reading self-help, motivational books, the kind people talk about on social media, it was a waste of money. I learned nothing, absolutely nothing. In fact I realized that my intelligence, as limited as it was, was still too sharp for the mundane bullshit that is usually found in those fake deep self-help books. I had to go deeper, so that’s what I did. The more I read the better I could articulate my introspection. Through reading I understood why I felt the way I did about certain things, I understood why certain things were happening, and most importantly, I learned that at the very core of who I am, or who I thought I was, I wasn’t shit. Inherently, I wasn’t shit. I was a terrible person.
I had a lot of unlearning to do. I didn’t realize how fucked up I was until I learned about shit I never heard of before. I had to ask myself, “How did I get here?” and it was hard, it was emotional, it was infuriating, but it was necessary. It was a process.
I’m still unlearning, I’m still introspective, because there’s always room for growth. I’m learning to accept the fact that I will never “have it all figured out” and I don’t want to. I don’t want to get to the point in my life where I feel that I have it figured out, where I feel like I have it all together, I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing. I welcome that, because through the process I have found that who I am is never going to stay the same, as I get older, and go through shit, I’m going to change, I can’t rail against that. So, when I say “Introspection is important, bitch” I’m not just saying that to be funny, I’m saying that because it is. I’m saying that because I have grown up through introspection. Introspection is important because it will introduce you to yourself, your truth, and all of your vulnerabilities, it will teach you what you don’t know and expand on the shit you already know.
You have to trust the process.