Everyone used to tell me that I was a very self-aware person.
I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
To me, being self-aware sounded like being conceited and arrogant; neither of which I associated with my timid personality.
Then arises a peculiar catch 22 scenario; can you be self-aware without being aware that you are self-aware?
I’m just as interested as you are, so let’s deep dive into 9 signs that you’re more self-aware than you think.
To be honest, I could probably also do a bit of learning.
1) You have strong opinions yet embrace the ideas of others
Whilst you might not yet have tried out every activity or food in the world, you’re confident in what you do like and what you don’t like.
You might not be up on a pedestal, loudspeaker in hand, trying to convert other people to believe in your opinions, but you’re confident in sharing them (in a tactful and appropriate manner).
You’re also keen on listening and learning about what others have to share – after all, how else can you continue to grow and expand your awareness of yourself and the world around you?
2) You’re optimistically realistic
Albeit not in a naïve way.
You’re hopeful and positive but also aware that tossing coins into wishing wells or wishing on a falling star isn’t going to change your life.
You know that the person responsible for those big changes is you.
Even if you’re not ready to throw yourself head first into big changes and dramatic upheavals, you still acknowledge that at the end of the day, you can’t spend your time complaining when things don’t go your way.
Instead, it’s your job to get in the driver’s seat if you do want that change.
3) You’re very aware of…yourself
Perhaps too aware.
Self-aware individuals tend to overanalyze how they come across to other people.
You’re aware of your shortcomings (such as being a little shy, or having a tendency to interrupt others unintentionally, or how you overshare in an attempt to bond quickly with newcomers).
These traits aren’t new to you, and you’re probably trying to work on them.
The key is that you’re aware of how people perceive you.
You study other people’s reactions when you first meet, and are extremely conscious of how you act and speak.
You might put a great deal of effort into your appearance or thoughtfully consider what you want to say rather than speaking impulsively.
4) You sit with your emotions
Being self-aware doesn’t mean being numb to emotion.
In fact, self-aware individuals are often more aware of their flaws and shortcomings.
You’re likely a sensitive and emotional individual, well attuned to how you’re feeling – even if it isn’t the most positive of emotions.
If you do fall into the category of being a highly sensitive person, you’re okay with that.
I am anxious, and that’s okay
I feel things deeply, and that brings more color to my life
I notice little things, and that means I get to learn more about the world
You’ve embraced the fact that you feel things more deeply than many others and acknowledge that your own perception might differ to that of other people.
5) You know how your mind works
People absorb information differently.
You probably remember being in school and hearing about all the different types of learning: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic (touching).
Highly self-aware individuals know how they process and absorb information best.
If you know that you can tackle projects or research to the best of your ability using a certain strategy rather than stumbling around in the dark and trying everything, you’ve got your self-awareness covered.
Additionally, you know that sometimes your emotions or thoughts are impacted by certain unconscious biases. Your awareness allows you to detect when this is happening and put a stop to it
For example, the horns effect. One bad move can lead you to dislike every aspect of a person.
However, if you’re able to realize that some people misstep and make mistakes, and you’re able to forgive and view their wider character and allow for slip-ups, your awareness and capacity to see the broader picture being unmatched.
6) And you also know that you’re not always right
Nor do you know everything!
A big part of self-awareness is knowing that your experiences and thoughts exist within one box, but knowing that there is an infinite number of boxes out there.
A bit like a Matryoshka doll.
And you know you don’t want to spend your entire life living in your current box.
You’re aware that there’s so much out there that you don’t know and have yet to find out.
You never assume that what you believe is gospel, nor do you stand looking like a silly headstrong statue and insist you’re right when presented with a differing opinion or new information that contradicts your beliefs.
7) You don’t expect life to give you special treatment
But you also don’t consider yourself the world’s most pitiful victim.
You’ve probably been tossed your fair share of hardship and trauma, but you still accept that life comes with ups and downs.
You don’t expect to be treated like a princess or for fate to lead you into a happily-ever-after.
Your realism means that you know goals require effort, and that’s something that’s on you to put in if you want to achieve.
8) You are responsible for yourself and your actions
In knowing that you don’t deserve special treatment out of life and go-getting is down to the effort you put in, you are also ready to accept responsibility for your actions and choices.
If things don’t work out, you don’t blame the weather/your WIFI/the traffic/your colleague/your dog.
You’re quick to acknowledge your wrongdoings as you’re aware of when you’ve personally caused a potential problem.
On top of that, you’re quick to apologize when you hurt others.
Your self-awareness grants you the ability to see how your actions have impacted others and you’re very capable of leaving your pride at the door to either apologize or forgive when necessary.
9) You’ve acknowledged that all the people and experiences you’ve had in your life have shaped your self-awareness
I know this one’s bitter, but I’m going to say it anyway; I’m grateful for everyone who has come and gone in my life.
That doesn’t just mean those who have blessed me with consistent friendship and intellectual conversations that get me buzzing with ideas.
Nor is it my reliable and supportive boyfriends who built up my self-esteem.
I’m talking about the exes who demoralized me and cheated on me constantly.
I’m talking about the men who followed me home at night as a teenager and taught me to be safer and more conscious of my surroundings.
I’m talking about backpacking across the world aged 18 and meeting countless people and places, each of whom added a piece to the puzzle that makes up who I am today.
I’m also talking about the sudden death of my dad, whose passing taught me grief, showed me how unpredictable the world is, yet taught me resilience and how to find good even in times that seem overshadowed by darkness.
I was going to begin this point solely with ‘you’re grateful’, but in all honesty, a lot of traumatic experiences cannot be classified as things we ought to be grateful for.
Grateful may be the wrong word, but as someone with heightened self-awareness, you’ve likely come to the realization that all experiences, good or bad, impact us and alter our perception in one way or another.
What have I yet to learn?
Self-awareness is a tricky topic to tackle.
We may think we know ourselves and champion ourselves as holding certain beliefs or fitting into certain systems, but in reality, we all have more to learn.
If that’s something you know and believe, you’re more self-aware than you think.
Just remember to live a life that is true to yourself; regardless of what you might think holds you back.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to look back on your life on your deathbed and think, “I wish I had lived a life truer to my authentic self and not lived in a way that was based on expectations others had of me”.
Being self-aware of your character, your quirks, your flaws, and how much you have yet to learn will help you to live your life to your fullest.
You don’t have to be perfect – no one is.
You just have to be aware of yourself, know your passions and your flaws and embrace them whilst being ready to work on expanding your knowledge and continuing to grow as an individual.