The other night I came home from work and saw my flatmate sitting by herself on our patio. I passed by her on my way to the kitchen, admiring her ability to sit alone without a phone or a book or anything to occupy herself. While I prepared a snack she peeked her head in the kitchen and with her typical Scottish accent she said, “have a glass of wine with me?”
My flatmate is an intelligent, stylish Scot in her 60’s. She’s a tiny woman with jet black pixie cut hair, emerald green eyes and big lips that are always covered in bright red lipstick. She wears platform shoes, trendy mirrored sunglasses and tightly fitted designer clothing.
I took a sip of wine and tucked my legs underneath me as the topic of conversation turned to authenticity, to living true to oneself. “The thing is you really need to know who you are, you really need to take the time to discover yourself” she tells me, “it sounds easy but its really quite hard. You really need to find out who lives here, who lives inside of you” she gestured toward herself. I visualized this as a colorful light in us, encased in human flesh, evasive, difficult to pin down and breathtakingly beautiful.
The words, “take the time to find out who lives here” really intrigued me. The very thought suddenly made me more curious about myself. It made me aware of how often I get caught up trying to understand someone else rather than me. Mostly because people fascinate me and I assume I already know who lives inside my head. Or so I’d like to think. However, a lot of my own self-discovery feels like gaining a better idea of the things I don’t want, as oppose to those I do. Although this is meant to be good and part of the process, it feels painstakingly slow and highly inefficient; sort of like cutting a massive lawn with a tiny razor blade. You’ll eventually get there, but isn’t there a better way? Because in reality there are infinitely different combinations of careers, people, situations, colours, etc. that to learn about a slight concoction of one that doesn’t work for me barely seems worthy of celebration.
Perhaps in order to speed this up we need to roll up our sleeves and do some digging. Maybe we need to use the same curiosity we have about others and apply it to ourselves. By doing so we’ll find all these layers of that have been subconsciously put on us by society, the people in our lives, and even our own willingness to conform to certain ideals in order to feel liked or valued or fit in. Eventually, when we keep at it, we’ll finally get our hands on a raw mesmerizing jewel that lay hidden beneath. These jewels are abundant within us and a true testament to what is created under immense pressure and tectonic movement. It’s sort of like we are all a version of a geologist searching for unique geological formations to better understand this planet we live on. In a way, we’re all out there doing our fieldwork on ourselves, bearing the elements and finding clues to piece ourselves together. And in those moments when we finally come across a jewel, we can lay our backs down in the newly turned soil and revel in its sparkling beauty; feeling achieved and humbled, knowing that there are many more left to be discovered. There’s a quote by Paolo Coelho that summed it up perfectly:
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”
All we have to do is keep digging.