The joy of finding yourself
Ripping one’s falsehood apart & exploring the real essence
By Aditi Raman Shridhar
It is difficult to put down in words what one goes through while shedding a few layers of one’s superficial self; when the thoughts you once had about yourself and of your life, the identities you held so tight of being a mother/ father/ son/ daughter/ husband/ wife/ a manager or whichever profession you are in – identities that made you feel secure, are all shed at once. It is a psychological maze as you try finding the person you truly are deep inside, and there nothing more exciting or remotely thrilling as this experience. We all go through it once in a while and are left completely stunned, aren’t we? But wouldn’t you agree that the most wonderful way of living this life is by being a 100 per cent of who you really are?
Many people might find this concept of ‘live as your authentic self’ or ‘find out the real you’ as a cliche. I knew I did. I was so judgmental of those who talked about this, but unforeseen tragedies often put you on the path of looking within. And that’s what happened with me too. I lost someone very close to me and the incident hit me like a thick, heavy log against my head, making me see a few stars and wondering what life is really about. Tragedies of a lesser scale in the past have also transformed me, and seeing other people’s lives has also made me question a lot of things about myself and change, but it is when you begin to consciously unravel the mysteries of your own mind and seek yourself with an addictive desperation and an unending craving that life starts to become truly miraculous. Off late I wondered if anyone is going to hand me a trophy for living the best life on this planet? Is anyone going to hand me a prize for being the best person, the most kind human being, the girl who lived her life well by having reached all the perfect milestones of a good education, career, marriage, kids, parenting and an afterlife after reaching these milestones? I don’t think so. Sure, some family members and close friends and may be some people whose lives I touched in some way might have a few good words for me, but what about the rest of the world? They don’t even know me.
So, why do people worry so much about leading the best lives so that others say good things about them? Do people really live to achieve their own desires or are they living their lives in order to make themselves fit in the society and be accepted by all? So, let’s question our lives and our deepest thoughts and identities once and ask ourselves – are we being us, or a version of something we think is good in the eyes of the society?
If you were granted a 100 per cent permission from everyone around you to be exactly who you are, would you talk the way you talk, walk the way you walk and do the things you are doing right now? If you have any negative thoughts and want to do harm to the world, then please stop and realize that it is not an authentic self of you because as human beings, we are all universally driven by connection, love, peace and harmony inside. But if you are afraid of stepping into your greatness, of doing good for yourself and the world and wanting to spread positive deeds and thoughts around and are unable to because of others or some other obstacles, then it is time you ripped those layers apart and emerged into the wonderful You.
Many a times we want to change our lives and we know it too well what we should be doing but we are too afraid. Many a times we wish we could change our lives but don’t know what we should do. Either way, you got to change everything that you are doing to disrupt the story you are living and are unhappy with. Let me give you an example. A friend of mine recently gave up on her relationship with this man she was with for five years. She called off the engagement and applied for another job in another city. She was distraught, confused about what she wanted and was certainly falling into depression.
“I don’t know what I want, but I don’t want this,” she said. When asked what would she like to have instead, or if she were given a wish then what would she demand, she said “Happiness, connection with a person, wealth, exciting work and a lot of fun.”
Don’t all of us want this? As human beings, we all crave happiness, peace of mind, a beautiful loving relationship, lots of friends, exciting work that makes us jump out of bed every morning and go do the things we love, have a lot of wealth to be able to do everything that costs money, and above all to have fun while having all of this. Then why is it that very few people are actually able to achieve it? Or some have most of the things but fall short in one or two of these areas? Is it because of external circumstances or our own lack of clarity or fear that stops us from doing it?
In my experience of talking to many people on what holds them back from achieving their dream life, the number one reason is fear. It is fear of failure and even excessive success. There is fear of being in front of crowds, while for others it is loneliness. The beliefs people have make them or break them. For someone I met recently, the fear of success prevented her from achieving her dream life. She said in very words to me that too much success makes you lonely because your personal life falls apart when you work too much. Is this really true? If it were true, then none of the celebrities would be happy. But there are so many celebrities who have very happy marriages, strong family bonds and they have fun in life, along with their career success and wealth.
For someone else who I know, the biggest fear was pleasing others in order to be able to live well. The approval of others matters so much that there is nothing they would do without thinking at least thrice whether or not they should do something that makes them truly happy.
When we were babies, did we really worry whether our bellies hung out from our pants or if there was curry on our shirt? Did we worry if we were too fair, too dark, too small, too tall, too anything? No. Then what changed when we became adults? Our mind! We became too dependent on others to validate us, to approve us of our actions and who we are. To imitate those we think are successful and to completely change the raw, unique, original selves that we are inside.
Steps to take
Do you really wonder what it would be like to live in absolute comfort in your skin? That body of yours is your only real home where you have to live this entire life of yours, so don’t you want it to be perfect? What would perfect be for you? The image you see on television and the one that media sells as beautiful and attractive or the one that you already are? Did any of us really come to this Earth with a handbook of how we should look, how we should be, what we should do? No. Aren’t all the rules created by society? And I do respect the society, because there is a reason there are those rules and parameters. As we live as a collective community of human beings, there have to be rules. But are all the rules applicable in our lives and are they really giving us more fun or choking us? Shouldn’t we question them.
We pity the teenage girls and middle aged women and men so much for being so conscious of their looks, but aren’t we all conscious of atleast something in our lives? The career, the name, the fame, the material accumulations, the position in the company, the award for the best service in society. Would you go to the heavens taking any of those? No. The only one thing you will carry with yourself is you – your essence.
What is your essence? What does it look like, feel like, smell like? Is it happy, kind, comfortable, fun, playful, intelligent, amazing, spectacular? Or is it dull, negative, fatigued, sad, violent, uneasy and irritable? Does your essence have humility, grounding and depth or is it shallow, easily affected by the outside world, petrified at the sight of a challenge and vindictive?
Our essence is our purest form and it carries us through different lifetimes. So how do you find it?
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Become aware of your thoughts. What are they saying to you? What are your worries and deepest fears? Write them down. What is your greatest wish and your real talents? What do you feel when a tragedy hits, what happens when you are all alone, what do you feel and think when you are in a crowd of people, do you get upset when others laugh at you or do you feel victorious when others talk about you. Are you easily lured into offers and deals not good for you or do you ignore all the possible opportunities that come your way. What is your essence?
Finding one’s essence is not a project of five minutes or one day. It is an experience of a lifetime, in fact many. But it begins the moment you decide to find it. And oh boy! how it changes your life. Knowing yourself is the deepest, most profound experience one could ever experience. It is greater than falling in love with someone else, doing things to make others happy, travelling the world, parenting a child or having all the material wealth and accumulations. Because finding your essence is a lifelong romance you have with yourself. It is simply you loving yourself, forgiving yourself, motivating yourself, making yourself happy, pulling yourself up in hard times and realizing that as long as you got you, there is nothing in this world you cannot have or achieve.
Break down the theories of societies that make you dependent on others for your life and survival. Instead of finding someone who makes you happy, become the one who makes you happy. Instead of finding someone to take care of you and pat you on your back when you are at your lowest, become the one who pulls you up and heals you and gives you a fresh start at life. Instead of crying for things you didn’t achieve, become the one who can get you everything you want. All the other people, the relationships, the material wealth and the world is only there to help you step up when you have your own solid footing and ground. And the only way you will ever truly enjoy living this life is by finding your essence and living in the truest, more purest form of you.
Sit down with yourself, write down everything that comes from within you, look into the mirror, talk to yourself and find your essence. This world needs You, not a version of someone else they already have. Be You, Be proud of You, forgive You, commit to You, befriend You, and spread your essence. Until next week.
Aditi Raman Shridhar is an Indian Journalist, therapist and health instructor wellness expert.