We start out in life as a seemingly blank slate but unbeknownst to us we are already programmed genetically to grow into someone who has a mix of traits from both sides of our lineage. As babies we may be fussy or calm and as toddlers we may test the patience of a saint or happily eat our broccoli and asparagus. As we approach the often-difficult teenage years, much of our character has emerged as we either test or accept authority and seek answers to a multitude of legitimate and equally bizarre questions. In adulthood, the questions keep coming but we are more adept at seeking solutions on our own.
I have always marveled at how people change as they manoeuvre through life. Gathering wisdom and experience with every step we take on our personal journey adds further dimensions to our ever-expanding personality and character. It has taken me a long time to realize this about myself and accept that I am no longer the person I used to be.
As a young adult, I found myself following the crowd to ensure acceptance among my peers all the while suppressing feelings that some of what I was doing just didn’t feel right. Time has taught me that always listening to that inner voice is the best way to live. Resisting the pressure to comply validates our very essence and we can sleep well at night knowing we didn’t compromise our beliefs and morals. Yet it can often take a very long time to realize what those beliefs are and embrace them to our full satisfaction. Resisting complacency and continually challenging oneself allows us to grow and get to know ourselves better.
Being content in one’s own skin helps to remove the feelings of jealousy that can build when observing how others live in a seemingly better way than we do. I have envied friends and family members who have travelled to far corners of the world, but I realize that I am also able to travel far and wide and choose not to for reasons known only to me.
My bucket list doesn’t need to be as long as theirs.
The world is ever changing and so it follows that so would we. But should we? It is hard to push back against the bombardment of new technology and different ways of doing old things as while some of it may be exhilarating, it can also be too overwhelming for those of us who are set in our ways and feel no need to change. And, to me, that is the crux of knowing who you are; accepting new ways if you want to and rejecting those that rankle. We don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
So, while I am no longer the person I used to be, I am now the person I am meant to be. I was there all along throughout my life, but it took experimentation and many steps in different directions to come to this realization. It is beyond liberating to finally see the light about oneself. Of course, it’s impossible to know what lies ahead in life. Do I make things happen or just let them happen? Perhaps the best philosophy is a little bit of both.
Not being in my youth anymore, I tend to be a bit reluctant to take giant leaps and feel more secure dancing a slower dance now. But I know myself well enough to know that I will keep on dancing.
Always move to your own tune and stop if you don’t like the music. At the end of your life your regrets will be few and hopefully your successes will have mattered. To borrow an anonymous quote: “To remember who you are, you need to forget who they told you to be.”