The Journey of Defining Yourself
As I scream towards 40, I have found myself reflecting upon my life and the journey that has led me to this exact moment in time. The twists and turns, the ups and downs, the joys and the sorrows. The question of who I am and who I want to be continues to sound out. Usually with a huge amount of expletives.
Lost Souls – The Search for Graceland
I am a bit of a lost soul. Constantly wondering and searching for a place to call home. My own sweet Graceland. I have changed so much during my life and I will forever continue to grow and change right up to the day my body decides it’s time for the eternal sleep. The question is more of a checking point than a cry for help. Who do I want to be at 40? 50? 60? As an OAP? Will I indeed wear Purple as Jenny Joseph states about her impending elder years in her poem titled “Warning”? I often find myself creeping into grumpy old woman status. It’s just that I see so much that upsets me and I’m not sure anyone else has noticed or if they do they just continue on. So I rant…at great lengths. My kids have now termed my outbursts as “Coral Reef” moments (long story and for another time).
I have had the greatest luxuries that life has to offer; healthy children, people to love and love me in return, jobs that pay the bills, hobbies that feed the mind, music that feeds the soul and the freedom to see the splendours of the world.
And yet I continue to search for that moment…you know the one I mean…the one that defines your entire existence…the shining lights from above…the choir singing “Hallelujah” and that feeling of being complete.
My journeys all start out like that. New jobs, new places, new hobbies. Shiny and unexplored. The excitement that comes with change and the unknown is my fix. My heroin. But time passes, skills get mastered and for a moment I think “this is it”! Then the boredom hits and suddenly the moment is gone. I used to feel huge shame and guilt and at my darkest times the endless abyss of depression. What the hell was wrong with me?
It’s Ok not to be OK
I had everything.
Why couldn’t I just be happy in this job? In this place? Why did I need to move on? Why couldn’t I just make it work?
I took anti-depressants, went to therapy, wrote in my journal every morning, exercised, practised yoga, endured meditation (how does one quieten the mind when the mind is chaotic – still working on it), changed my diet drastically. You name it. Anything to distract from the tiny voice niggling away at me that it was time to move on.
I had self-help books coming out of my ears. “Women Who Think Too Much”, “What to do When You Want to Do Everything”, “Happiness Advantage” on and on and on. There are so many self-help books out there, books to cure and help you on everything. There are blogs and experts all willing to take your hard earned money to tell you how to fix you, but how can they do that? I am me, a unique and individual snowflake, how can they possibly know what I need?
Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to this. I know when the time has come, just like Vianne, in the wonderful movie, Chocolat, who moves her and her daughter on to the next town when the North wind blows. It literally felt that familiar. The constant nomad. What I have learned and come to enjoy is the abundance of human greatness I stumble across with each new adventure. Had I stayed put I never would have had the great pleasure of meeting or witnessing such incredible people who help me to grow and change into the person I want to become.
One True Calling – Fact or Fiction
I watched a fabulous TED talk the other day by a lovely woman named Emilie Wapnick, who goes on to tell us why some of us will never have just one true calling. It resonated with me so strongly. I sat in disbelief as she echoed my thoughts. A relief swept over me…maybe I am not such an odd ball after all. Maybe it is perfectly normal to want to do and see all that you can.
She went on to mention that as children society tries to place us into a box with the notorious question, what do you want to be when you grow up? From that moment we are conditioned to believe that there is one thing we should strive to do and that is it. Go to school, fall in love, get married, get a job, have kids, etc., etc. In a day and age where companies come and go, the world is open for global travel and a complete wealth of knowledge at our finger tips…how can we expect our children and ourselves to pick just one thing to do with our lives? Why should we be so limiting in our focus and beliefs?
To Bohemian or not to Bohemian
The definition of Bohemian is as follows:
“A person, as an artist, writer or musician, who lives & acts free of regard for conventional rules & practices.
One who lives a wandering or vagabond life.
A free-spirited, open minded thinker.”
After watching Emilie’s talk I began to think a lot about my wanderlust and ceaseless hunger to learn all I can. I find such amazing riches in the form of music, art, poetry, literature, cinematography, the list goes on and on. Experiencing new cultures, new places and new foods is what living is all about for me.
Is it not enough to be constantly curious? To search for new understanding?
And then it hit me…who was I wanting to impress? Who cared whether I stayed or went? And more importantly why should I care what opinions others hold of me?
Whoa…. self-dawning or by Maslow’s definition…self-actualisation.
As a child I was raised to care a great deal what others thought of me. What a heavy burden to shoulder (one that many of us carry). What would I do now if I was no longer working to please others?
The answer: I will do whatever the hell I want! If I want to switch jobs, move countries, take up modern dance or throat singing, then that is exactly what I will do. At the end of the day it is my life and I am not living to inflict ideologies, pain or suffering upon others. I shall continue to grow and embrace my bohemian life style.
Key Things I Have Learned in 40 Years
The below list, and you will see many of these in all forms and guises, captures the essence of key learnings I have had in my 40 years on earth.
- Be true to your self
- Do what makes you happy (if you’re not happy, do something about it)
- Take time to be still (too much go go go and social media rubbish ruins our minds)
- Meditate (find one that works for you and give it time to take hold)
- Walk in nature (barefoot when possible J)
- Grow something (nature is so healing and growing your own vegetables and plants is so grounding)
- Surround yourself with amazing family and friends
- Forgive (yourself and others)
- Love unconditionally (spread the light wherever you go, smile, laugh, love)
- Be open to newness (experiences, concepts, the world is full of incredible wonders)
Go forth, live a happy fulfilling life and if you find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be…you have the power within you to change your mind-set and circumstance. One step at a time!