Recently, I participated in a TV commercial shooting and the theme was about getting old. One question was asked, “what have I gained with age?” The answer was pre-written for everyone to match the theme, and it was “confidence, strength, friends that matter…” Yes, I have gained all that but, more importantly, I have gained myself again.
When we are born, we are who we are. We do things that we love. We are constantly in the moment. As we grow up, we start learning things in life. Our parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, peer groups, neighbors, society, everyone and anyone is potentially a teacher of ours. We acquire new skills and knowledge so that we can navigate our lives in our society. We go to school to learn what’s right and what’s wrong, what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable, the good vs the bad, success vs failure.
Looking back, in this seemingly forever learning process, I lost myself somewhere and I forgot who I was. I learned to become a person who is regarded to be good and successful, and this person is not necessarily the real me inside me. My passion, my desire and my love in life are not necessarily included in the formula of being a successful person. The formula for being that person is measured and formulated by mostly how good an education he has, what sort of job he has, how big a house he lives in, how nice a car he has, how much money he makes, who he knows and where he goes. The definition of being successful is not equal to the meaning and being of happiness, and the meaning of happiness can vary vastly from one person to another. And yet, in our society, rightly or wrongly, we accept it, we accept the definition which seems to have very little relevance to being truly happy.
All our teachers teach us what they know, and their teachers teach them what they know. It’s a blueprint that has been evolving over the years based on the changes in our society. And that society is heavily influenced by different elements, and these elements have been manipulated by various sources over the years.
We are told to study hard in school and getting good grades will give us a head start in life. After school, we learn or at least hope, to find a good job and then climb the corporate ladder as that’s what everyone does and that’s what we seem to be all lined up to do. We study hard not necessarily because we have a deep desire to acquire knowledge or wisdom, we work hard at work not necessarily because we like our job. Don’t get me wrong on this. We do need the framework so that we get the basic skills and a structure to enable us to live our life. But that framework does seem to be in need of some fine-tuning.
We do what we learn anyway in the framework with or without questioning it, and we lose ourselves in it and leave ourselves behind somewhere along the way. We get so absorbed in chasing and achieving this defined dream of ours, a dream that is not always created by ourselves. We get somewhat brainwashed and programmed in all those years in school and then we continue that programming by throwing ourselves into a job that may not align with who we really are just so we can achieve that very dream which we don’t really know if that’s what we want anyway. An irony.
If we do what we love, no matter how hard they work, our desire and passion will drive us through and forward. The source of energy is unlimited. On the contrary, doing what we don’t enjoy, in the long run, it will consume us to no end. That’s why people feel consumed and depressed when they have been doing something that they don’t enjoy for too long. But somehow, we all learn to follow that “guaranteed burnout path” because that’s how the system works currently.
I, too, fell into that burnout path. I studied hard in school then I learned to climb the corporate ladder. At a time, I was having the best time in my life. Happiness came with it but it didn’t last long as it was empty happiness. The money that I earned didn’t make me feel fulfilled. It bought me many happy times but not happiness. Soon enough, I felt something was missing in life and I suddenly wondered myself what exactly I was doing even though I was busy with all the glamorous things that I did and the beautiful possessions that I had. With that, I started questioning myself and looking for answers.
As the proverb goes “When the student is ready, the teacher will present himself.” I started questioning myself and, soon enough, I crossed paths with people who were there to show and guide me to a different side of life. Different ways suit different people. So be open-minded when we don’t know. I happened to end up experiencing and doing energy healing, meditation, channeling spirits, playing with angel cards, doing yoga etc. Yes, it was all that out there kind of stuff but it worked for me so I went along with it. If yours happens to be doing an intellectual course or a retreat, do it. Do what you feel drawn to even if it seems completely bonkers.
Making that change or shift in life is not easy. It’s a gruesome process and it’s not for the light-hearted. You are confronted by yourself constantly and it requires total dedication, time, effort, and most important of all, trust in yourself. Even when doubts are there, you will still find a kind of peace in the process. So trust yourself and trust whatever process that you feel drawn to.
I went through an intensive short period of all the “airy-fairy” stuff. After that, it went back to facing the real world. However, I looked at my world with a different perspective and a sense of a new being. With that view, my world started to change. The integration process takes time and it needs you to allow it. It’s very easy to slip back into the old world and do the old stuff. Change is not easy but it’s worth every moment of your life and every penny in your wallet. Or else you can slip back to the old self and live your life with the biggest lie you can ever tell yourself.
Even to this very day, I am still changing and learning about me. We have to be strong and fully committed to be ourselves. Surround ourselves with people who can support us in the transformation. Find some alone time daily and do something for your inner self – write your journal, have a walk in nature, do a yoga class, have a drink at happy hours, whatever works for you. Just know that as much as you work on yourself, the process will work on you, too. Both take time and their timing doesn’t always go hand in hand. Don’t get frustrated when you feel you are not moving forward quick enough. It takes time for things and events to unfold if you allow it. It’s an active and passive process simultaneously.
As I said, I felt something since I was a little child. But my transformation didn’t really get into a higher gear until the year 2000 or 2001. Since then I have been forever changing. Sometimes it feels like I am in a Formula 1 race, other times nothing seems to happen. It’s like one period I learn something and the next period I get to integrate with real life. I don’t always understand it but I do try to live it to the best I can. Whenever I am unsure, instead of going out looking for an answer or help which often turns you into a panic mode, I retrace my steps back to myself. I will centre myself so that I don’t lose myself in internal chaos that I potentially can create.
The calmness will come if we stay still. The answer will come when we don’t look from the outside. We hold our fort with strength and trust and things will be drawn to us. When we go about and run into hundreds of directions to look for answers, everything gets lost in it. With time and practice, we will find ourselves again. When we are in touch with ourselves, we get to learn how to flow in our own life. Otherwise, we are only drifting.
My final sharing on this is it doesn’t matter where you are in life, that is:
– I do what I do but do not know or feel if I really enjoy it.
– I don’t like my job but don’t want to initiate any effort to make a change.
– I want to make a change but don’t know how to or what to do and I have been doing my job for a long time. Is it too late to make a change?
– I will take a bold step to make something happen no matter what.
You will do whatever when you feel right. We are not meant to be the same and we don’t feel the same in life. Some of us will be happy in life just doing what we do. Some will look for more and some will make drastic changes. Do not feel being stuck. We are simply standing still at the moment, gathering the information we need in order to move forward. Every stage in life is the right stage even with doubts and worries if you are true to yourself. We need to be conscious of who we are and what we are before making a change. When we have that consciousness, it’s then an act of finding the balance of readiness and timing – the readiness in you and the timing of the flow in your life.