He Toka Tū Moana: Self Discovery with a 20-something in 2022

There is no better time for reflection and self discovery than in the new year. As we welcome Matariki here at mahi, I was introduced to a whakatauki.

He Toka Tū Moana, a rock that stands firmly in the ocean.

It got me thinking, how am I a rock that stands firmly in the ocean? 

As a 20-something creative navigating life in 2022, more and more of my time and thought is based on building a strong foundation for myself, building my self confidence, self worth and my own sense of identity. Self discovery presents itself in many ways for me these days. What pillars am I laying down for myself? How am I honouring the values I believe in? How am I building my career? How can I build long lasting relationships? What experiences do I want to gain? What do I truly want out of life? How am I looking after myself and my whānau? How can I balance and juggle all these equally important principles? The list feels endless.

He Toka Tū Moana, how can I stand firmly and strong, amongst the often unpredictable ocean we call life. I see this moana, this ocean as societal benchmarks. Although there are no “due dates” in your life, it’s still hard to ignore the societal pressures and standards and ideas of success heightened on social media and in the western world, especially unrealistic expectations for wāhine. Whether it be owning a home, climbing the career ladder, business, acquiring wealth, motherhood, marriage, traveling… These pressures are all currents and waves in my moana.

So how do you navigate this all while keeping your own hauora in shape? It’s something I’m still figuring out. I read an article that said, while there are measurable and trackable aspects of your life, your sense of self isn’t one of them. I do know for sure that the self discovery journey will always be an ongoing one, and having stumbled my way through my early 20’s pre and mid pandemic, these are 3 things I’ll keep with me along the way.

Positive self-talk

Talk to yourself kindly. I realised that speaking badly of myself didn’t help my goals. Part of recognising that was catching the subconscious things I would say, that I didn’t even realize I did. I have become more aware and intentional on how I speak about myself and now understand that my words hold weight. The things you tell yourself you are, you really will become. If I keep telling myself that I’m “bad with money”, that I’m just “naturally a late riser” then I will always see myself as that. 

Take the compliment, give the compliment.

In Aotearoa, we are humble beings, but there is nothing wrong with balancing your humility with confidence. I used to always awkwardly deflect and squirm at compliments, now I awkwardly accept it with grace and gratitude for the person recognising my qualities. Part of confidence and self assurance is being able to recognise others as well. I try to give more compliments, and support people who I see doing well, because I know someone else's success doesn't take away from mine.

You are the company you keep

Not everyone you meet is here to stay and some friends or acquaintances are seasonal - and that’s ok! Sometimes we keep company purely due to circumstance, so I’ve been intentional and mindful of my circle. I know the people I make time and effort for, will do the same for me. There’s no time for unrecipocated energy and people who don’t support me, who don’t sit in my corner, cheering me on. 


Self reflection footnotes: 
  • If you could go back and talk to your 20-something year old self, what would you tell them?
  • How would you define He Toka Tū Moana? What does that look like for you?
  • How have you become a rock in the ocean? 



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