I’ve said this many, many times but I think it bears repeating:
Your job on this planet is to be the most authentic ‘you’ that you can possibly be. Sound easy? Not a chance! I think we have to spend a life-time figuring out who we are.
We do it in a whole bunch of ways, as different as we are all unique. Some of us make mistakes – tons of them. You can imagine that if we learn from our mistakes, the more you make, the more you learn. Do it in bulk. Many of us are pros at this. The downside is if you don’t learn and keep making the same mistakes. But if you do learn: wow, a Ph.D in wisdom!
And then there are those of us at the opposite end of the continuum who are afraid to put a foot wrong. Maybe we won’t learn from ‘out there’ mistakes but, we might learn something else. Staying out of the line of fire might give us opportunities to learn on the inside instead of the outside.
But I suspect that most of us don’t make any resolutions. We’re just trying to live our lives as best we can, and get on with the demands of the day. And then, BOOM, splat, there arrives an opportunity to be the most ‘us’ – to choose to be true to ourselves or betray ourselves by trying to be someone else, or please someone else. Most of the time, we might not even know what we’ve done.
How could that happen? I’ve thought about it. For me, I think it happens when I forget who I am. Funnily enough, I find it’s easier to remember who other people are than who I am. Perhaps we’re taught to be externally focused and to define ourselves through the reactions we get from the people around us. It’s the ‘how am I doing?’ reflex. ‘Do they like me?’, ‘Will I get the promotion?’, ‘Will I get the what-a-dufus look behind my back?’. We learn early that kids can be cruel and some adults not much better. The lessons can be hard and reach far into adulthood.
Some of us spend time and energy seeing a therapist, for months or years, figuring out how to re-frame what happened to us in our childhoods and then deciding whether or not reacting to our current world from our unconscious childhood world-view, still works for us. It would be ideal if we grew more self-confident as we grew older, and some of us do, but some of us still have those pesky fears that sing in our ears, trying to keep us safe and comfortable.
There’s nothing wrong with safety and comfort, as far as it goes. A few years ago, I was feeling at a loss and having a hard time making a decision. I caught myself trying to decide how I ‘should’ react. Nothing felt right, no matter how I justified each possible choice to myself. As often happens when I feel blocked and stuck, I turned to sitting quietly with a candle lit and endeavouring to find my ‘inner’ voice. I wasn’t bargaining for what I heard. I paraphrase here in the interest of brevity:
“You aren’t on this planet to behave as other people would, nor to have their talents. You are here to be the most ‘you’ that you can possibly be. It’s the only thing that no one else can hold a candle to. The world would be meaningless if we were all cast from the same mold. You act in your best interests when you follow your own blueprint and not someone else’s.”
It was an answer but it still required some work on my part. I had to be really honest with myself about what I wanted, needed and had to offer – popular or unpopular. I’m still working on defining the essence of who I am but I think I’m clearer than I was those years ago. It’s a work in progress but I know it’s worthwhile.