This one was actually a special request, but funny enough I was just talking about this topic yesterday with a dear friend who lost his spouse a year and a half go and was feeling lost. I know for me, when I hit my bottom and finally reached for help I was faced with the realization that I had no idea who I really was. I had never asked myself who I was, and what I liked, I spent most of my time pretending to be who I thought you wanted me to be, and I got so good at it, the real me got lost in all the pretending and I had no clue the real me was. With the prospect of starting from scratch and learning about myself I got scared. It seemed daunting. I had to strip away all the characters I had been playing and I was left just with myself, but that felt like a big gray void. I knew I couldn’t let myself get anxious over starting over, so I tried to look at it as an adventure, or a mystery that I was going to solve, and that first started with making a commitment to say yes to everything, to try new things, with new people, and see what I enjoyed and who I enjoyed doing it with. As scary as that seemed, from a woman who had led a very controlled life, what I was leaving behind was far scarier, so I just jumped in. If someone called and asked me to do something I said yes, if there was a position to volunteer for and I was available, I said yes, if someone I didn’t know well asked me to coffee, I said yes, and so on, and with each yes I learned more about myself. I also made a list of things that sounded interesting to me, that I had never tried, and I set out to do all of the things on that list, and, if I could, invite someone else to do them along with me.
As time went on I discovered what I liked and didn’t like, and I made some new friends. Those people who I didn’t pursue a friendship with also taught me about myself. If I didn’t particularly care for someone I would ask myself why, I would also ask myself if that reason was because I recognized something in them that I didn’t like in myself, and from those experiences I was able to put together a cheat sheet of what I look for in a friend, as well as the knowledge of what I am good at within in a friendship and what I needed to work on. The mystery started getting less mysterious and I started to collect some cold hard facts about myself. Over time I was able to build a new me, and authentic me, one that I made no apologies for, and one that did feel familiar to me, but also new, and better. I also, through learning how to be my authentic self, was able to strengthen friendships and make new ones that were more in line with my new way of living, ones that were formed out of mutual respect and love, and ones that weren’t one-sided. I was finding a way to live a healthier happier life.
Today I still try to say yes to new things, and with new people, because today I know that those situations have come up for a reason, so I take the chance and dive in. I have a much better sense of who I am today because of saying yes and taking the time to learn from those experiences, I also learned to give myself the gift of time and patience, because the journey of self-discovery is one that you can’t put a time limit on, in fact, if you allow it, you never really stop, but give yourself some time, let your growth happen as it is meant to, don’t try to rush it or shape it into what you think it should be, let it grow into what it is supposed to be. If you’ve just found your way out of the darkness congratulations, you’re about to start the most exciting journey of your life, the journey of you. Go explore. Go find you. Go SLAY on!
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you find you get anxious at the prospect of what comes next? What scares you? What if you made the choice to look at it as someone exciting? Something of an adventure. Do you have a hard time saying yes to new things? Why? What are you afraid of? What was the last time you said yes to something new? What was the result? What it a positive experience? If not, what did you learn from it? Do you see that even if it wasn’t something you liked you can still view it as positive because you learned something about yourself? What can you do this week to make an effort to try something new, or spend time with someone new? Do it SLAYER, go find your authentic you, no one else can do it for you.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you