Given the choice, you would think that most of us would say we are unique, not just another one in the crowd. However, the truth is far from that.
I was in Hong Kong recently hosting a seminar called “Living an Authentic Life”. The highly joyful and successful seminar was all down to the interactive exercises, meaningful sharing, willingness to be honest and vulnerable and open minded discussions among the like-hearted people. It was a pure joy to share my learning and experiences with the audience. And it was a pure pleasure to be of service to others who could benefit from it.
In the seminar, we discussed how important it is to be clear of our thoughts and beliefs and why we need to examine and challenge what we know, what we think and what we believe in. We also explored and tested how we could easily liberate ourselves from obligations and responsibilities which we don’t always enjoy doing, and more importantly, how often these obligations and responsibilities are in fact self-imposed.
The audience were asked to challenge their own thoughts and beliefs. They were willing to be vulnerable to no better person other than themselves as they were ready to break free from where they were and take the next honest step towards where they would like to be, to rid of their current limitations and boundaries in life in exchange for a sense of liberation and lightness. As serious as the work was, there was laughter, genuine sharing and rapport within the group.
Towards the end of the seminar, one soft-spoken yet committed lady who was fully engaged throughout the whole seminar shared her feeling and reflection of her own inner journey. She said, “The journey is so lonely.” Whilst it was so touching to see her being so open about her true feeling in front of a group of people she just met, it was equally amazing to see how her statement struck a chord with the rest of the group. The silence in the room came after her statement spoke volumes.
I totally share her sentiment and feeling as simple as her statement was. No matter how many great friends, teachers or supporters you have around you, you are the only one who is walking your path. It is a hard truth. As a speaker and author, I can only facilitate the journey for others. I can provide them with tools, framework, knowledge and wisdom. I can give them a clean canvas, a brush and a compass but I can never draw their map for them.
For those who truly have a strong desire to be honest and authentic to no one else but themselves know the truth that they are the only ones who can and will walk their path and draw their maps.
One would think, “Don’t we all want to be honest, true to ourselves and be unique as WHO we are? Isn’t that natural?”
The challenge we face collectively as a society is that when something is accepted or not challenged by the majority, it becomes the norm. The norm is then seen as normal. This normal, however, isn’t always aligned with WHO we truly are. Since very few people like sticking out like a sore thumb or being seen as “abnormal” in a crowd, we therefore make ourselves fit in. We will even come up with enough justifications to tell if not to convince ourselves why we wear this hat even when it doesn’t fit us at all.
Many people will acknowledge their unique and authentic self with themselves quietly but very few will stand up for and put their authentic self out there when they are in the crowd. Too many people believe by going with the flow they will be in the flow of life. What they don’t realize is the flow of the majority may not be where they want to head to. By the time they have realized that fact, some may tell themselves it is now too difficult to go against the current and too late to be in their own flow. Or rather, it is easier to stay put than to fight for something so intangible. Something intangible yet so invaluable that no one can put a price tag or a tangible value on it, that is our life. This is one reason we see so many senior executives feeling burned out with their high paying jobs and yet they can’t decide if it is easier to stay or go. Either way is going to be tough.
Many of us are quietly seeking that meaning in life within ouselves and yet very few of us are ready and willing to talk about it. It takes courage to speak up in a room full of people, let alone showing up daily to live your authentic life to the fullest consistently when conforming to, if not following the norm, is seen and labeled as normal.
Because of that, this only-you-can-do-it-unique-journey changes from being “alone” to being “lonely.”
The reality is there are many people showing up daily to walk their path and draw their maps. Because everyone is doing it so quietly and silently, it does make the journey seem lonely. And it can be lonely only because you are the only one who have the keys to unlock and open up your path.
The true power of your uniqueness can only come and be felt when you discover and uncover yourself.
You are not alone. You just feel alone.
The key to overcome the loneliness and to be courageous in living your authentic life is to be clear, conscious and responsible of the choices you make. A deep and genuine desire together with the reasons behind your decision are the fuel to overcome every obstacle, challenge and the sense of loneliness awaiting you. The two choices there are in life journey are: (1) the “hard” option – muster up your courage to walk your path knowing that as hard as it may be, you are being true and honest to yourself and giving yourself and your life the best shot you can, or (2) the “easy” option – stay normal being just another one in the crowd, knowing you are denying your life and yourself the chance to truly live and fulfill a life you so desire and deserve.
It is perceived as a “hard” option because it is challenging to navigate and overcome the physical challenges, especially when you are making a major change in life after all the time and effort you have put in to build your established life. The mind will keep on asking you “Why? Why? And why?” Yet it is so easy because you are simply being you. There is no need to lie or come up with reasons if not excuses to convince yourself why you are not being you or indeed why you are doing what you don’t enjoy doing.
It is perceived as an “easy” option because there is less actual work involved with most things remained as they are. The mind is happy yet your heart aches. It is hard because you know the storm within you is caused by you not being honest with your true self. You are the one who caused it. And you are the only one who can fix it.
No matter what choices you make, they are good choices as long as you can live with the consequences peacefully with yourself.
At the end of the day, your life is shaped by your choices.
So make your choices clearly, consciously and responsibly.
However ready you think you are or how big or small a step you are ready to take, you can make an impact in your life as well as others around you. You are more powerful than you know and that power only comes when you are true to WHO you are. There is no better time than now to be honest with yourself and being WHO you truly are.
Imagine if today was your last day in life, would you reflect back and think what a nice house you own? Or what a great job you have? No. You would reflect back and wonder if you have truly lived your life. Did you give it your best shot? Success or failure it matters not. What truly matters is that you have the courage to honour yourself and your life with your best effort. After all, life is not about “How unique am I?” or “How will I be remembered?” It is all about “How do I want to live and remember my life?”
So are you ready to begin your journey?