“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know oneself.” — Benjamin Franklin, author, printer, scientist, statesman and Founding Father of the United States.
As Franklin states, ours is an extremely hard task, to get to know the naked us, all masks aside. The good news is one step at a time, and we’ll get there. I hope you are feeling like a nut since such a mindset will help you advance to the goal. Being a successful nut means never ending self improvement and continuous entertainment. We nuts are the envy of the rut dwellers, for we live adventurously every day, in thought, or literally dangling from the edge of our comfort zones.
Last time, each of us dared to acknowledge the real “me.” I trust a week or more has passed and each day you have been gazing into the mirror, as if you were admiring a painting and declaring, “I love you” followed by “What can I do to make you happy today?”
In order to really appreciate the beauty in something, one must understand it. Facing ourselves will help us understand who we are and can help us tackle our fears and inhibitions about expanding our comfort zones. Face to face with the authentic you is imperative if you are to ever conquer personal demons.
If you accepted the challenge, I dare say you have been a distance outside your CZ. Those of you who, for months now, have been creeping outside your comfort zones have, no doubt, experienced new and exciting things out there, for that’s where life begins. The many stretches you’ve taken to step outside your boundaries will seem like nothing to meeting the real you face to face. This one could be a walk through fire.
In order to face yourself, you have to know exactly who you are. Rip off your masks, shred them and let them fly away. Do you compromise your dreams to please someone else? Can you acknowledge that you are responsible for your thoughts and actions and that these thoughts and actions are independent of anyone or anything else? This may require some soul searching as many adults place blame on anyone but themselves for what they think and do. To some, taking responsibility is not an option because they would have to recognize that what they think and feel dictates their behaviors. Are we getting close to the edge of your comfort zone now? This is good. I guarantee once you have categorically faced who you are, you won’t have much trouble doing anything else.
The first time I allowed myself to be the real me, I was in Murren, Switzerland. I wished to stay and experience this unique village surrounded by the Alps, but my daughter wanted to return to Italy where we had been backpacking for six weeks. The me I had stuffed away, never to be heard from, said, “Do it. What do you have to lose?”
The other me, the one I had been for years said, “Are you nuts? You and Jenny will both be alone in different countries. Have you lost your mind? You’ll probably die.” Four chapters in my book, “Two Nuts in Italy,” are devoted to my introduction to the real me in this Swiss village. I hope you enjoy my story.
This week’s assignment gets very personal, and I expect you’ll have to corral your nut to do this. It will take commitment. Your nut may need a bit of encouraging, and you’re going to have to communicate with it. Take a piece of paper, number from 1-9 and write your answers to these questions. Yes, it requires recording the answers on paper, not just in your head. If both hands are in casts, or if your writing fingers are broken, use your toes or your teeth to hold the writing utensil! Whatever it takes, write your answers down. These questions can apply to social settings, work settings, or leisure settings. You can answer them for each setting or just choose one. If this is to be any help to you, you must be honest with yourself in answering.
1. Do I feel worthy?
2. Do I make excuses?
3. Do I place blame?
4. Do I persist?
5. Do I get easily frustrated?
6. Do I feel like a failure?
7. Do I often feel uncomfortable?
8. Do I wish I could change my world?
9. Do I see myself as a leader or a follower?
This week, read your responses three or four times, percolating, ruminating and getting in touch with them. Whenever you spend time with your answers, new connections are made. There are no wrong answers. We are attempting to get to know the ‘me’ that yearns to be free, to write, to teach, to create, to invent, to train animals, to design buildings, to volunteer, to conquer, to change careers, to do what the rest of the world says is nutty. The journey of self discovery is rewarding, eye opening and exciting although it is not easy. Again, one step at a time and you will arrive. Better yet your arrival will be on your timeline.
If this exercise becomes you, you might experience the unexplainable. Despite the fertility of the English language, the precise words to describe your unique experience may not have been coined. You are an extraordinary person and that in itself arouses awe and respect.
Do you stand in admiration when you look in the mirror each day? Do you show respect for the exceptional person you are? Your inner dialogue and your actions as you go about your day will answer these two questions.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century American essayist, poet, lecturer.
Enjoy meeting the real you, and join me next time for, “The real me stood up. Now what?”