Updated: Apr 14, 2020
One of the most uncomfortable elements of uncertain times is the realisation of how fragile everything is, including your idea of yourself. Are you the solid, reliable workhorse you thought you were? Are you as free and easy and open-minded as you once imagined?
Perhaps, it turns out, you’re afraid. Perhaps you’re uncharacteristically shy. Perhaps you disappear into your head where nobody can see you and nothing can touch you. Perhaps you’re gung-ho and brave and fearless. Perhaps you disappear into service of others, so nobody knows you need things, too. In truth, we are all of these things, all of the time.
Who we are and how we know ourselves to be is, most often, simply the version of ourselves that shows up most often, in the context of our day to day life. And when that day to day context shifts, so, often, do we. We find out we’re not always who we thought we were.
We’re rarely who we had hoped we were. That can feel scary. But it’s also liberating. Because it means you get to choose. Who do I choose to be, in this moment of uncertainty? How do I choose to show up? When I look back on this period of time in my life, who would I be proud to see there? What behaviours would I admire in the version of myself I saw?
Something to try: Jot down your top 3 values that are not negotiable during this period of uncertainty Jot down a shortlist of 3 - 5 qualities you want to bring to this period of uncertainty. If you’re not sure what they are, think of someone you admire, and ask yourself how they would behave, in the face of what you’re facing. Stick these notes to your bathroom mirror, so they’re the first thing you see in the morning. Hold them like little lighthouses to guide your choices through the fog.
When I sit in my office and wait for clients to arrive, I wonder what they will bring and how I might be of service to them. What have they experienced to make them who they are and how do they cope with their day-to-day struggles? Do they feel worried, anxious and depressed or upbeat, positive and optimistic? We are all complex beings and our journey is often not straightforward or linear.
We don’t always get everything we wish for. We can’t always control what happens to us. Somehow we need to learn to make meaning of what we have and what we create for ourselves.
It seems so long ago now, but I remember when my kindergarten teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Life was simple then. I said I wanted to be a journalist.
These days, I am aware of my own mortality and what I haven’t had or done in my life. But I’m also more solid than I have ever been. There is a calm in me that allows me to be more reflective, think things through for myself and for others. Through my own experiences, I learnt how important the nurturing and support of others can be to instil confidence, develop a strong sense of self and help someone attain their goals.
I’ve come to understand that each of us is a work in progress and that it’s okay to sometimes fumble through life and learn new ways of being in the world and in relationship with others. Accepting that we’re not perfect is a good thing, being vulnerable is okay, and talking to someone you can trust is helpful so that you don’t continue to struggle alone.
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