Learning to Be Authentically You

Figuring yourself out sounds easy, right?  Who knows you better than you? 

Recently, I've been surprise to find out that I may not have known myself at all. 

Do you ever feel a bit like a pinball?  You bounce from one thing to another with no clear understanding of where you're headed?  

You’re bombarded by requests—from your boss, co-workers, husband or wife, kids, doctors, teachers—so many people who need so many things from you.  You want desperately to get it all done as you want to be a model citizen, wife, husband, mother and/or associate.  Everyone seems to need your time, your energy, and sometimes even your physical body. 

In our quest to be models of perfection, we risk losing, or never finding, our connection to ourselves and exploring our heart's desires. 

I used to say, “I’m an externally motivated person.”  Seriously, did I really say that? Yes, I did; I now see that this was merely an excuse not to have to know myself.  If I was externally motivated, that would mean I didn't have to explore within myself or to find my true passions.  I could just follow along with what everyone else wanted.  I’d wait for someone to give me a task or to challenge me to make a move; then I’d knock it out of the park and relish in the showers of appreciation when I produced quality work.  

It starts at a young age. Our parents do their best to guide us towards a “happy” life. They give us lists of things to do to prepare us for our "best life." They provide us with insights regarding what’s most important.  Our teachers give us assignments and we’re expected to churn them out as expected with no real evaluation as to whether we have any interest or passion for that subject or assignment.  

I completely understand that doing things we don't want to do is a necessary part of life.  I'm just wondering when did the idea of doing “what’s expected” become in opposition to the idea ofcreativity and following one's passion?

Did you spend a good bit of your childhood doing what was expected?  I did; I never did too much, just enough.  Like when I got the exact score needed on the SAT to get into college.  No more, no less...  Just what was needed...   

Spending all our time responding to the needs of others comes as a cost. 

We each have beautiful talents, given to us at birth.  They lie within us waiting to be discovered, waiting for us to realize our true potential. Yet many times we're encouraged to adhere to the status quo, to march along to the standard routine.  We are expected to follow the patterns and pathways that have worked for others and have been told it will work for everyone. 

What happens when you begin to realize your true potential and to discover there’s more within you than what everyone else expected?

So how do you begin to discover the passions within? It wasn't easy for me.  It's not something that happens overnight.  Honestly, I think it is something that evolves over time and needs continuous attention. 

I’ve found these three simple questions to be very helpful in my quest to discover my true passions:

  1. What brings you joy?

  2. Why do these activities bring you joy? What about that experience or situation did you love?

This summer, my family has been blessed with the opportunity venture out into the world on three separate vacations, each very different.  One was to the city of Portland; another to West Texas; and the most recent to a resort in San Antonio. As we returned from the third, I found myself asking the above questions about each of the vacation.  

I wrote in my journal about which elements of those journeys struck my core, which resonated with my true-self.  

It’s amazing what you’ll discover when you listen to your heart. 

The moments that took my breathe away were those where the silence could be felt, when I stood, walked or drove through nature in silence and could feel a connection to the hills, waterfalls, plants, snow, and stars.  Those are the moments that stood out to me. 

The next question:

3. How can you experience that type of joy more often? Either in future vacations or in your everyday life?  

Based upon what I learned, I think I need to be out in nature more often (if only this 100 degree heat would let up).  As we plan future vacations, I intend to make decisions about where we go based on this knowledge and not just because a friend said, “you have to go there.”  But because my heart, my true-self or inner guide (whatever you want to call it) is leading the way. 

Have you taken any recent vacations?  Where did you go? What brought you joy during those vacations? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below. 

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