10:08 PM

How many of you identify yourself through a role you play? (whether as someone’s parent or through your job/career).  There is a small but important distinction between quantifying what you do for a living and what you feel your identity is. For example, as a mother, I see many of my peers who find themselves without their moorings once their children graduate high school. Their entire life and center has been defined as being adjacent and supportive of someone else. I love my daughters more than I can say, but you can be a supportive parent without subsuming/conflating your worth into the whole of another’s existence.

There are others who may be graduating from college soon with a degree for a discipline of study that they hate. Perhaps the family pinned their hopes on having someone in the family with a law degree and you may have yearned to pursue botany? Yet here you will sit with a freshly minted piece of parchment (and the debt that goes with it), ready to start your life, living for someone else.

“Until you learn to name your ghosts and to baptize your hopes, you have not yet been born, you are still the creation of others.” ~ Marie Cardinal

Starting off your life’s journey saddled with thousands of dollars of debt, staring down endless years of professional torture, seen in black and white terms, is not something most people would choose willingly, and yet when we live our lives, it’s more difficult to recognize in practice. Our roles are established early, whether through birth order, our resemblance to a relative, our parents’ marriage or lack of a spouse…  The list is literally endless and there are also limitless variations of models into which an individual may find him or herself.

That being said, we must do the heavy lifting to divest ourselves of others’ expectations and assumptions of us if we are to become an authentic person. This is really difficult to do and usually painful at first. Honestly, I can’t tell you how or where it starts. I was asked that question directly in a meeting earlier this week and I had to admit ignorance of myself.

In terms of self-awareness, I can’t tell you what comes first (using the chicken/egg analogy), awareness of self or the knowledge that there’s a “better way.” The best advice I can give to you is that if you are feeling anything other than excitement and joy about your life or future, pause and ask yourself, “What do I want?” and “Why am I unhappy?”

Ask yourself while driving down the road; while mowing the lawn; doing the dishes; riding on the subway. Then listen for the answer(s). Once you have an inkling that you want something different, now you are ready to throw your life into a season of chaos.
The good news? It’s worth it.

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” ~ Carl Jung
Jung’s quote, for me, means that we don’t think our way out of pain, we play our way out of pain. Secondly, and most important, WE are the object we love. In order to change our lives for the better, we must believe that we deserve it. We must understand that living a complete and vibrant life is a necessity. So many of us postpone fulfillment of our potential or dreams because we think that it’s a luxury, or it’s something that we can concentrate on after
1. The kids graduate
2. We get a better job
3. A spouse. …. blah, blah, blah.
It’s not.
By ‘play,’ I understand that to mean that we make of our challenges a game. What ifs and experiments are how we learn. It’s how we learned as children. How many of us looked at a bicycle and drew out the angles of declination, the formula for velocity, mass and inertia before hopping on the banana seat and tearing off around the corner? Maybe one. Possibly two of you.  More than likely, none. You got hopped up on sugar, slung your leg over the bar and started pedaling, crashing along the way and ripping the knees out of a few pair of jeans. Same difference here.

“To destroy is always the first step in any creation.” ~ e.e. cummings

This is the chaos part. Take a big, deep breath and pick a figurative cement piling in the foundation of your life. Then pick up a sledgehammer and start swinging. What goes first? Is it a habit? Is it a job? Is it the people you choose to surround yourself with? Trust your gut and go with the one you know you can commit to and complete. This act will begin the metamorphosis that will result in the evolution of you as an authentic, vibrant being. By the way, you’re never done. You are now, in the words of  filmmaker Melissa Pierce, in a state of perpetual beta.

Acceptance of this fact will paradoxically allow you to relax and really enjoy your life – even the scary parts.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

While you’re hip deep in life rubble, take time to mentally draft the blueprint of what you desire for yourself. Through your imagination, you are the architect of your life. Within this framework, you can plug yourself in to various scenarios: Self as pilot; Self as chef; Self as physicist. We’ve talked in previous blogposts about the usefulness of journals to distill what you love. Other posts have talked about the way our hobbies or natural skills can offer clues as to where our heart lies.

For me, the litmus test was always the concept of time. If I could immerse myself in a task and lose track of time (or the need to eat), that was a big neon sign to myself saying, “This is Who you are.”

It’s very simple, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
For what it’s worth, although I truly believe that once you clue in to the fact that you are an evolving being, you will never be “done,” I can also say that (based on my own experiences) “segue portions” of my life occur in two year increments. There’s only so much “stretching” our souls can process within the carbon based restrictions we’re working with on this plane. The soul is infinite; however, the construct into which it is placed has a lot of variables (ie. other people, your own ability to process, the price of tea in China). That’s why we get a lifetime to practice.

When was a time that you felt your life change? Why? How did it turn out?

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