“Those who look out dream, those who look in awaken”
I came across a letter in my old desk that I used in high school. It was a letter I wrote to myself during a retreat when I was a Junior (I went to a Catholic school so we were big on retreats). The letter was addressed to my future self so how fitting that I would find it now. I laughed at some of the funny shit…like when I talked about my high school crush, or my worries at that time which are so meaningless now. At the end though, my young self asked old Liz a question:
“Are you still painting? I hope you are”
My heart sank a little as I imagined going back in time, staring into little Liz’s face, and saying no, actually I don’t do that anymore. My heart felt hollow. Here I was, my older self, supposedly wiser, and I had stopped doing something I loved, something that churned my creativity and just made me smile. How could I tell Little Liz that...
How could I tell her that with all the financial success, the academic success, the friendships, and love I have….I still feel empty. How could I explain to her that the path she was following, that I had followed, didn’t lead to the happiness we were promised. How could I tell her I felt like something was missing. I was missing. Somewhere along the way, the grades became more important, my company’s goals became more important, and making my family proud of me became more important than me being proud of myself. Our world is constantly asking us to look outward. Our attention is on our friends, our statuses, our company projects, our families so much that we become detached to the point where we are just empty suits (Under30CEO).
When was the last time you spent time with yourself? When we begin to turn inward, we take the time to evaluate ourselves, our real selves. Not the people were supposed to be, or the people others expect us to be. Its in the silent reverence of our minds that we connect with ourselves and answer the questions of “How do I want to feel” “What do I want my life to look like” “What do I value” “What is not working for me” etc. We can then begin to forge a clear path of our own, one that reflects who we are, truly.
Some ways to get to know you
In the beginning, getting to know myself again was awkward. It was like seeing a friend who you haven’t spoken to in years…your not sure if your going to hit it off or if it will be weird. I promise you…it will be like you guys were never apart.
Take 2-3 minutes and just be with yourself. Sit up and close your eyes, focus on your breathe going in and out, and let your mind wander. See where it takes you, notice what thoughts come to mind, then just bring yourself back gently to focusing on your breathe. I learned a lot about meditation from here: Zen Habits
This doesn’t have to be a book, for me it’s the Notes Section of my planner. Just something for you to write down things that come to mind during the day and to answer a few questions:
How do you want to feel today?
How are you actually feeling?
I feel pulled toward…
I’m doing this…but Id rather be doing this…
In addition to that, I like to write down subjects or phrases I might read that make me think or just make me laugh. After a while, you will see a pattern of what lights a spark in you.
A Support System:
Its inspiration that helps drive us into action. When I realized I was losing touch with myself I surrounded myself with friends who were in tune and could understand my dilemma. If there aren’t people in your circle who get it, then travel outside your group. Some of my inspiration has come from these people: The Perpetual Vacation, Hey Amber Rae, Zen Habits.
Now go hang out with yourself :)