“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations; your consciousness expands in every direction; and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” – Patanjali
When faced with the question: who am I? What answers flow into your mind? What feelings and emotions do you associate with these thoughts? When I started asking myself “who am I?” very early on in my life, I drew a blank. I later realised why I struggled to define myself. This was because I was defining myself by others’ definitions, labels and preferences.
Religion played a big part in this definition. How I was supposed to behave, be and do was predefined. This was without a shred of acknowledgment for the unique individual that I was born to be. I kicked against it within, but couldn’t rebel outright as the repercussions would have been dire as a young adult. But…. that’s a topic for another day. So, the measure of my value was the degree of my conformance to others’ rules, values and expectations of me.
Bringing shame to the family name or, heaven forbid, the church community, was almost suicidal. So, my constraint was a cultural, social and religious straight jacket, that drove me to the edge. I had to leave and do my own thing. Having lived a very sheltered life left me naïve. But I learnt the intricacies of the “outside world” fast when I moved out on my own.
So, at age 21 I decided to fly the coop. I came to the big city from a small town, which meant I had to grow up fast. And that’s when I started discovering who I truly am. Taking full responsibility for my own life decisions kickstarted this journey. More importantly, facing the consequences of these decisions was the spark I needed. As a result, I started filling that very blank “who am I?” slate in.
Determined and courageous
My determination to live my own life – by my rules was my driving force. It became very clear to me that life doesn’t happen to me, I have to make a great new life happen for myself. This opened up a whole new awareness of my free will and choices. I discovered at my core I was courageous. Courageous to endure the discomfort of leaving my feathered but thorny nest. And courageous to face a big city where I only knew very few people.
In the inimitable words of Franklin D Roosevelt: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” In my case my independence was very important to me. So I explored and tried new things and slowly my mindset began to change. As a result I realised that if I remained enslaved by others’ truths, then it would have been all for naught.
I persevered when things looked grim
My new life almost caved in on me. That first job in the city would just not materialise. I was very reluctantly planning to throw in the towel and go home. And then it happened….I received my first job offer. It was a day before I was about to pack my worldly belongings and hit the road back home. Fortunately, that was not my destiny!
So I started my first job and as they say, the rest is history. Had it not been for someone who saw my potential, who knows how things would have turned out for me? I found myself in a great, new and wonderful world. The life lessons were hard and constant. These lessons included managing my finances, speaking up for myself, deciding where and how I wanted to live and work and who I would call friends.
A valuable and probably the most important lesson, was that with all this freedom comes great responsibility too. Now I didn’t shy away from the responsibility, it was difficult at first because I didn’t know who I wanted to be. Believe me, when I started discovering my inner strength, I kept moving forward. The “who am I” question kept coming up for me throughout this process.
Another important discovery was the connection between my mind, body and soul. This sparked my own inner knowing and the start of a beautiful relationship with myself. The result being lasting healing for me. This healing was anchored in the discovery of the roots of many of my limiting beliefs. These were the source of the vulnerabilities/insecurities that I felt, which inhibited my growth. Slowly the “who am I?” question was being answered.
A further lesson was around the people that came into my life. I met incredible people on my journey, some of whom have remained dear friends. These people were instrumental in shining a spotlight on the qualities that made me authentically me. Like holding up a mirror for me to learn who I really am. I learnt that “outsiders” could be trusted and did have my best interests at heart. As I learnt to trust myself, I also learnt how to trust others. Believe me, I also met quite a few dodgy people as well, who in hindsight, were part of my lessons to be learnt.
The discovery process and more lessons learnt
Amidst these lessons, also came the lesson of compassion for others. It meant that as I am, they are on their life’s journey too. A journey which will no doubt include successes, good lessons and the like. This acceptance means no judgement and rather the perspective of how I can help you on your journey. So, acceptance of who I truly am allowed me to fully accept others.
Coupled to acceptance was another very important discovery. This was the power of forgiveness – forgiveness of self and of others. It was a difficult process and one of the hardest things to do, yet so liberating and empowering. Acceptance of self and others is not possible without forgiveness. Holding on to things only restrain us and limit our expansion and power. They serve as emotional handcuffs in a mental prison.
Through taking responsibility for who I am and how I show up in life, means living with integrity. Thus shaking the demands of conforming, and living how and what I believe to be true for myself.
This process of growth and transformation has solidified my life purpose. Now the question is no longer “who am I?, rather “am I being true to who I am?” By sharing my journey with you it is my sincere hope that you will start or continue to answer your “who am I?” question. Whatever your answer is, be proud of who you are and the contribution that you bring to this world. By being authentically you, you radiate your power and in turn help others reignite and radiate their own.
What is keeping you from finding joy and contentment in your life? How are you stepping up to be true to who you really are? I would love to hear about your journey.