Answer this question: what makes you “you?”

Stephanie coordinates volunteers, marketing efforts and operations for The Healing Center in Walker's Point.

Every year of my life, I get older, I become wiser (hopefully) and I grow into the person I am supposed to be. Like everyone, I’ve had my ups and downs which I believe contribute to my outlook, my values and the way I approach certain situations.

As a teenager, I felt easily swayed by everyone’s opinions and changed my views on everything from fashion to religion almost daily. But, now that I’m almost (deep breath) 30, have I finally become true to my spiritual self, and, dare I say, authentic?

This is quite an important concept to me, because there are too many people in this world who I feel are not. In all honesty though, I don’t blame them. We are constantly bombarded by new fads for everything from diets to child rearing. Existing as a true, unique being can be tough!

If I choose to live an “environmentally friendly” life, am I allowed my once-a-week double soy latte from Starbucks, throw-away cup included, or to maintain my green persona, must I chase across town to the local, organic café, even though I’m in a rush and forgot my re-usable tumbler?

Psychology Today provides an interesting article on the concept of being unique that I think sheds light on some of my questions. The featured writer, Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., writes, “To be your own person clearly requires independence of thought, feeling, and action. This means that you can and do think, feel, and act without excessively relying on others to give you direction. However, as John Donne famously proclaimed, “no man is an island,” and human happiness cannot be attained in a social vacuum. So, being independent does not mean that you live outside cultural, social, and legal boundaries; or that your character is not shaped by a process of socialization; or that all social conformity is unhealthy. Still, there exists a…sphere of personal independent existence characterized by autonomous thinking and acting, which cannot be subtracted from a person without taking away the capacity for happiness.”

I want to explore this idea of “authenticity to one’s self” more deeply, so stay tuned for next week’s blog as I delve a bit deeper into what it means to be, well, you.

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services to adult survivors of sexual violence. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, has a right to heal from abuse. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

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