Me at NSLC. Me designing creative projects. Me meeting new people and hearing their stories.
After all this time, I see that’s me.
It’s not: living on the fumes of a ’round-the-clock journalist; being interrogative or confrontational; conforming to norms, methods, or set agendas.
I set her aside two years ago.
Even so, it’s not: reading theory and analyzing data at all hours of the day; being critical to the point of cynicism; being isolated and confined; feeling alone and an outsider; seeing only the negative; feeling helpless and burdened by knowledge and information; having to declare a specialization and a narrowing of focus — a confinement of another kind.
That, I realize now, as a newly minted college graduate, was my school persona. My pleasing persona. My push-to-the-grindstone, perfection persona.
But who is my real, true, down-to-core self — the person I feel when I’m at my best?
Well, she’s …
Running around, excited, discovering new ideas, meeting new people, capturing moments and making people feel beautiful in their best selves.
She: believes in the power of people to make a change; sees the good in everyone around her; strives to make her world (not the whole world) better, not perfect; isn’t afraid of fear; is intrigued by adventure; likes to be organized and prepared .. but enjoys the simple thrills of feeling surprised and encountering something new.
That’s me at my most authentic self.
Who she is when she’s not trying, not conforming. Who she is when she’s smiling, and laughing full-of-gusto in the moment. When she shines, when she forgets to put on a show and just BE.
All this time, I’ve been searching for: another degree; another certification; another accolade to prove myself worthy. To ‘find myself’ in someone else’s eyes.
When she’s been here all along, doing what she’s doing, making the choices she’s made, following her path without knowing where it’s going to lead her next.
And me? I think it’s time I start trusting her, my most authentic self. Incredulously, it seems like she knows what she’s doing, even if I don’t truly know at times.
Just like I believe in you, I’ve got to start believing in me.
And maybe, she’ll never be disciplined enough to get her PhD, or appear on television, or ‘save the world,’ or prove she’s the ‘smartest’ in the room.
But maybe she’ll be happy and find lasting joy in her life and work.
And maybe, just maybe, that will be enough.