Actor James Baldwin once said, “I have encountered a lot of people in Europe, I have even encountered myself” It begs the question, have you encountered yourself? To encounter means to meet by surprise or unexpectedly, amongst other meanings. When was the last time you experienced that type of surprise meeting with yourself?
Have you been in a situation where you found out you liked something you didn’t think you would enjoy? Maybe tried a new food, or a new sport. Maybe started a new hobby? When this happens without you orchestrating the situation you are encountering yourself. Many people stay in their comfort zones, and rarely find themselves in a situation where they are challenged by encountering themselves in an unexpected or surprising ways.
As a personal challenge take time to do something different today. Take a walk on the beach or through the forest and use your senses to experience the sights, smells and tastes around you. Walk slowly and keep a journal close. Allow your self-time to experience things you may usually walk past and write down the things that you become aware of. Write about the way they impact you and if they bring back childhood memories or other significant thoughts, write them down as well.
If you are taking a journey of self-discovery, encountering yourself is the first step to learning about the person you are. Another meaning of encounter relates to conflict and confrontation. Much of the time we prefer not to confront ourselves and we certainly don’t want to know inner conflict, but for self-discovery to be successful, we must be willing to consider even the inner conflicts we have constantly raging inside us, some more low key than the others. We must be willing to confront the unjustifiable fears and assumptions we make often with no reason.
Our lives can sometimes be like that of a small child who looks at what the food on his plate looks like and decides what he feels about it simply by looking. If it looks good, he will try to eat it, if it looks bad he will tell you he doesn’t like it. We try to encourage children to try food before they say they do not like it. This is the key to self-discovery and personal encounters. Giving ourselves permission to unexpectedly find ourselves and challenge our preconceived ideas.