How to Live for Yourself


In poetry, there are two concepts from which many poets work, sometimes exclusively: selfhood and identity.

Selfhood refers to the idea that every little thing about a person comes from within. Identity refers to a group of people having a trait that connects them to one another. While these concepts aren’t the opposite of each other, in literature, the latter acknowledges these “identifying” qualities are a vector that helps shape who you are.

As much as we would all like to think we control everything about ourselves, many times outside pressures affect us. It’s inevitable. For example: you can think you look great in an outfit but when you get a negative reaction from a friend you begin to doubt yourself.

There needs to be a balance between both selfhood and identity, and many people struggle to find it. I know from experience how tricky it can be, but there are some situations I think can help you find your balance.

Acknowledging, but not always accepting, others’ feelings.

If something you do or say makes someone feel a certain way, acknowledge their feelings. Someone else’s feelings are valid, even if what they feel wasn’t your intention. But your feelings also matter, so always remember that your feelings are your own. Don’t allow others’ feelings to change the way you feel if you don’t feel the same way they do. This balancing act between accepting and rejecting others’ feelings is important to master so you know where you stand on certain opinions, issues, and instances.

Choosing when to listen to outside opinions.

There may be some instances in which the opinion of others’ matters to you, and that’s okay–that’s what friends and family are there for!  Maybe you value your mom’s opinions because she has great judgment. However, if you only ever make decisions and live via others’ opinions you then waver on the line of living for someone else’s approval which is not healthy. Your life is your life, so listen to all opinions and then decide for yourself which ones you will or will not follow.

Being self-aware.

Being aware of yourself–your likes and dislikes, your thoughts and opinions–is very important when understand how to balance your life. Knowing who you are as a person, discovering that, can help you navigate through your life. Don’t let your outside factors define you if that’s not who you truly are or what you really think. Learn how to make your own opinions and call on the help of others when warranted–when you want and need to, not because you have to. Being self-aware can help you shape who you are instead of letting other things and people shape you and can increase your confidence in life.

Our Writers

Nani graduated in May from New Mexico State University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and English. When she isn’t writing, you can find her listening to nostalgic 90’s music, slowly working through her Netflix queue, or arguing politics and social issues. She hopes to one day write for The New York Times.

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