For years, decades actually, this simple statement, finding out who I REALLY was, was never on my radar. I shuffled through the days with no eagerness, no purpose, and no intent on manufacturing a life of abundance. Status quo was fine. As long as tomorrow wasn’t much worse than today, why would I try reaching towards dreams that seemed more like fantasy than possibility? Looking into the mirror I never saw anyone of value; twice nothing is still nothing; this world with me or without me would be the same. Trying and failing was a much more painful prospect (I thought) than never starting, so motivations were completely absent. Nonjudgmental self-evaluation was something I never knew existed, let alone how to practice, though I DID constantly criticize myself, and this path almost led me to an untimely death. Why? Because in my mind all perceived error deserves punishment, or so I thought. I saw all my “mistakes” as permanent character flaws rather than temporary learning opportunities.
One thing’s for sure, I’ve ALWAYS felt like a triangular peg living in a round world; maybe more accurately a star shaped peg. In any case my attitudes and beliefs have never quite seemed to match anyone else’s, especially when I was young. I’m sure this feeling is true for a great many people, but my point is when you (think) you’re a drop of water in a dessert, it’s difficult to find kindred spirits. As a result I began to question if my thought process was totally out of alignment with the rest of mankind’s. Wondering if my sanity was intact was a disturbing notion, one I avoided contemplating. It’s no wonder alcohol and its ability to numb my emotions had an eventual massive appeal.
With these two outlooks on life, basically (choosing to become) an “apathetic alien”, I subconsciously attacked myself from more than one angle. The more I convinced myself I didn’t belong in this world, the more I died a little every day. I’m glad I didn’t.
So, WHO AM I?
I’m now a person who doesn’t care about the question “Who was I?” I remind myself of the past by keeping an occasional eye on my rear-view mirror because it’s good (and in my case, healthy) to know what I don’t want. These days I do indeed look to the horizon (something I NEVER did in my youth) and fantasize about all my plans and dreams, but this still isn’t my primarily focus. I’m hyper-aware I’m neither what was, or what might be. I am what the moment presents, part intent on my part, part what the universe hands me. I refuse to believe I’m the sum total of my (unwanted) history because I try my best to avoid letting previous negative patterns influence the present. Just because I responded a certain way before is no excuse to repeat my behavior under similar circumstances. I’m sorry to say this doesn’t always happen, but I’m much better at this exercise than I used to be. Recognizing a Pavlovian response is eighty-percent of the battle anyway.
Perhaps it would help to define who I am, who I choose to be now by generating a list.
- I am open-minded.
- I am Loving.
- I am receptive to criticism.
- I am a morning person.
- I am creative.
- I am enthusiastic.
- I am always looking for a good laugh.
- I am idealistic.
- I am decisive.
- I am constantly improving.
- I am driven.
- I am a good communicator.
- I am spontaneous.
- I am (also) well prepared.
- I am well connected to my emotions.
- I am a hard worker.
- I am in recovery.
- I am kind.
- I am artistic.
- I am concerned more for others than myself.
- I am organized (at work…)
- I am blessed.
A rundown of qualities is all fine and well, but coming up with a list of my inadequacies is probably much more useful to REALLY answering “Who am I?” It’s important to note I do NOT currently consider these as defects like I used to. I see them now as nothing more than areas needing the most attention.
- I am a procrastinator.
- I am a poor listener.
- I am out of shape.
- I am impatient.
- I am an interrupter.
- I am forgetful.
- I am disorganized (at home…)
- I am not using my time wisely.
- I am putting off my dreams.
- I am not practicing my art like I know I should.
- I am not even close to my potential.
- I am annoyed by reminders of what I should do.
- I am not as healthy as I could be.
- I am judgmental.
- I am wired for addiction.
- I am stubborn.
- I am loud.
- I am undisciplined.
- I am undereducated.
It’s difficult to self-diagnose, and I’m sure even my closest friends could write a longer list of my needed “upgrades” than I could. The good news is I AM on a path of constant improvement. It’s not as fast as I’d like it to be and I do often find myself taking two steps back for every three forward, but these side trips do not discourage me in the end.
So, “Who am I?”
I’m a work in progress, I’m a person who won’t ever go into “glide mode”. I am opposite of everything I don’t want to be, and honestly, that’s a damn good place.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood