Have you ever been so immersed in an activity that you completely lost your sense of self-consciousness? Most performing artists know the feeling. One moment you’re you, the next you’re some fearless singing, dancing, acting, storytelling version of you. How does that work?
I prefer the less self-conscious version of myself. There are times when following social signals are helpful, e.g. what to do whilst dining in a fancy restaurant or when to clap in an audience, but then there are times when the norm gets in the way. The fear of being perceived as an outlier is enough to stop many people from doing the things they really want to do. Sad, but true.
Sometimes we call each other out by saying things like, “get over yourself.” It’s as if we carry around these imaginary fragile self-images and we’re afraid they might get scuffed. We even tell ourselves things like, “I could never do that.” Barring some physical limitations, you probably can, you just don’t want to take the risk.
Who’s the “real you”? Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the optimal human experience as flow. In other words, we’re our happiest when we’re completely enthralled by the present task, so much so that we forget to feel embarrassed.
If you really want to find yourself, first you must lose yourself.