I've started and restarted this article so many times that now I don't know whether I'm coming or going.

Who are you? On the surface, it looks like a simple question. But it's loaded. Oh boy, is it ever.

How you answer that question may depend on who's asking. I know it does for me.

Have you ever asked yourself that question? Who are you, really?

This is a post that's been brewing in my mind for months. I've been seeing a lot of articles about introverts. And hey, I'm an introvert, so I'm kind of interested in these introvert articles! It's nice to finally see people saying that IT'S OKAY to be an introvert, to prefer time on your own, to not have time for small talk. But this post isn't about introverts. It's not about extroverts. It's about knowing yourself, and allowing yourself to BE yourself.

I've seen a lot of articles, too, about just being you, and making that you-ness part of your business. And that's all well and good - IF you know who you are to begin with. If you don't know who you are, how you tick, and why you tick the way you do, chances are you'll end up trying to be someone you're not. And you'll be miserable.

All of my life, I have struggled with social anxiety. As a child, it took me ages to get comfortable in a new situation, particularly when that situation was thrust upon me suddenly. For instance, if someone I didn't know walked up to me and asked me a question, I froze. If someone I knew asked me the same question, I didn't have a problem.

Most of the messages I was getting from people said that what I was, was wrong. I should be more sensitive, more outgoing, more fun, more fill-in-the-blank. This only exacerbated the underlying social anxiety. I shoved that part of me down as deep as I could, only to have it surface at the worst possible moments.

As soon as I started to acknowledge that the anxiety was a part of me, a funny thing happened. I started to cope a lot better in new situations. When I recognised my own quirks for what they were, I was able to make allowances for the extra time & effort it would take to work through them. These days, my anxiety episodes are few and far between. I know I'll most likely have this for the rest of my life, but as they say, knowing is half the battle.

Part of what helped me along in this process was when my husband introduced me to something called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). By answering the questions in the test, I found out my personality type according to the MBTI. I started to read up on my type. I learned which of my traits were due to my personality, and which ones weren't. (For what it's worth, I'm an ISTJ.)

The MBTI has been infinitely helpful. I understand myself - and others - a lot better. I don't automatically assume that someone's being a jerk if they don't do what I expect, or what I think they should do. Well, okay, I'm human, so sometimes I do. But when I stop to think about it for a minute, I realise there's often more to it than what meets the eye.

So here is my challenge to you. Get to know yourself this year. I mean, REALLY know yourself. It will be uncomfortable. It might even be painful. But trust me - it'll be SO worth it.

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