Pinterest is littered with quotes about "finding yourself" overlaid on images of nature, or faraway places, or solitary introspection. And the Internet — and strangers and your friends and your mother — have one piece of advice for young 20-somethings: find yourself.
It's good advice, considering the 20-something years have incredible potential for self-growth and transformation. But "finding yourself" isn't so much a switch turning, or a light-bulb sparking, or a wave of "AHA" — but more a way of reconciling the person you want to be with the person you've always been. It's growing into yourself.
But does it have to be in the woods or halfway across the world? Is the journey to self-discovery always better alone?
I can't say how or when I would have "found myself," had I not gotten pregnant so early in my 20-something years — although I'm sure I would have, eventually. But it might not have been so overwhelming and affirming. (Or maybe it would have, who can tell?)
Like so much in life, there isn't one blueprint for "finding yourself." Not traveling, not living alone for X-amount of years, not motherhood.
Yet young motherhood is certainly an underrated outlet.
Because there's been nothing as transformative as seeing myself through the lens of a new life — through fresh eyes. Maybe it was the urgency to grow up. Maybe it was the front-row seat to watching a baby — our species — grow and develop from his very first second. Maybe it was the cluster of life lessons, like learning how to roll with the unplanned.
Whatever the reasons, it worked.
I became a better version of myself, not only for my son but because of my son.
So ignore the (well-meaning) voices of concern and warning, because — as long as you're mindful and aware — you can find yourself just as much in a rocking chair as you would a hostel.
We just have different ways of getting to the same place.
See all of the reasons in our Why I Love Being an Early Mama series.