Feeling Lost and Reclaiming Your Authenticity
I was a junior in high school sitting in math class during study time when I had a boy ask me, “Who are you?”. Having been part of a graduating class of not even 300 students who had all grown up together, I knew darn well he knew who I was. So, I gave him some flippant remark back. But I distinctly remember him responding quite seriously with “No, that’s just a label. Who are you?” We went back and forth for some time, and after giving him nearly every descriptor I could think of to define myself at that time (daughter, athlete, student, etc.) with no avail to his satisfaction, I eventually became frustrated and turned my back to him, returning to my work.
At 16 years old, I thought I had merely fallen into a trap of an annoying dispute with a teenage boy, but this conversation has nevertheless stuck with me for over ten years, and I think about “who I am” often.
Especially this time of the year, change is thrust into our focus as the leaves turn colors, eventually falling onto our lawns and days grow shorter, colder, and wetter. We tend to give ourselves the gentle reminder that change can be a positive experience if the mindset allows it to be, which can be difficult for those of us that thrive in consistency.
But the lesser thought of idea of authenticity and leaning into our true selves is also prevalent with the existence and celebration of Halloween- a time when we can be whatever or whoever we so desire, but just for the night.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the traditional festivities of this holiday just as much as any other “basic” woman, but when considering my own history in celebrating, I feel like I haven’t quite taken full advantage of this opportunity. Usually dressing as something silly, I could have made a statement in who I truly desire to be, honoring that authenticity. So, this year, I encourage you to take the time to look at your deepest desires in who you want to be, who you are now, and how you can bridge that gap.
If you could wake up tomorrow and be anything, be anyone, what would that look like? How would your life be different? How would you be different?
Take a few moments to process these questions and maybe even write your response down before moving forward.
Seriously. Stop and think about it.
What is stopping you? What is holding you back from being the person that, if you could merely wave a magic wand, you’d be?
Some deterrents that may initially come to mind include time and money, feeling like there is never enough of either. And that is entirely valid, for the most part. But take a deeper look at what that “ideal” person you created from the questions above truly represents.
For example, your truest self wants to completely disregard all social constructs to move to the woods and live off the land, thereby reincarnating a modern-day Henry David Thoreau. Unfortunately, that does not feel realistic right now to your logical brain because Consumers does not take canned tomatoes as payment.
But we can dig deeper into the more general ideas of what your authentic self is hoping for. In this example, maybe you desire to be closer to nature. Start small by taking a 5-minute walk daily or really looking at and dissecting the trees and sky. Maybe you desire to be more self-sufficient, so you start with a vegetable or herb plant or two in the windowsill of your kitchen. Possibly you crave that time in quiet solitude to regather your thoughts, not necessarily something you need to do in the middle of the woods. So, you find that alone time in your bedroom.
Even on days where our truest self feels so out of reach, or we have seemingly lost our way and don’t even know what that true self looks like anymore, we can regain that control. You control your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions. You can take the step today to go for that 5-minute walk and enjoy nature. You can buy that vegetable or herb plant and nurture it to grow. You can take a few moments to sit in your bedroom in complete silence with only your thoughts to keep you company. You can get closer to that person that your wildest dreams desire you to be, but you must make the decision to act first.
I encourage you to take back that control.
Keeping in mind your true, authentic self, what are you going to do today to take one step closer to becoming that person? Take the time to really consider this and create a realistic plan that you can stick to. Start small. Change takes time, effort, and patience. So, remember to be kind to yourself throughout this process, knowing that there may be mishaps or forgetfulness. But progress is progress no matter how small.
Research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down, so comment down below or continue your written entry from above and document your goals on that sheet of paper. Whatever you decide, I hope that you enjoy this process of leaning into authenticity and becoming the person you aspire to be.