Recently an old school friend whom I’d lost touch with reached out to say she’d discovered One Grounded Angel on Facebook. She enjoyed my posts, and wanted to let me know she was happy to see that I had ‘found myself’. While I appreciate the sentiment – I know she had good intentions – I couldn’t help cringeing at the suggestion that up until now my life had been lacking.
I totally understand how this idea happens, though. I meet so many people convinced that there’s something missing in their lives, and if they just find that one thing – be it the perfect job, partner, dress size, belief system or location – all their insecurities, pain and unpleasant emotions will disappear. There seems to be this belief that if they could just stumble upon what they were ‘supposed’ (ugh – I hate that word!) to be doing with their lives all along, they’ll become happy and complete, and they’ll know who they really are.
This is an alluring idea for sure, and I suspect it’s what prompts some people to jump between careers, businesses, relationships and personal projects, discarding each when it doesn’t (and can’t) transform them and gift them the eternal happiness they expected it would. Case in point: how many people have lost large volumes of weight yet found they are still struggling with insecurity and low self-esteem? Alarmingly, a 2014 University College London study found people who ‘successfully’ lost weight were more likely to suffer from depression. I don’t know exactly what the connection is, but I imagine it’s possibly a case of thinking that being a certain dress size would lead to happiness, self-approval and long-lasting confidence. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Eat, pray, feel disappointed
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the hugely successful book (and subsequent movie) Eat, Pray, Love, once wrote a Facebook post about how she sometimes meets women who also went to Bali, Italy and/or India, just as Liz did, and are disappointed that this formula didn’t work for them. This leaves Liz having to explain that the book was never supposed to be a prescription for fixing your life and meeting your soulmate. Here’s my take on the situation: although Liz’s travels did put her on the path for major personal breakthroughs to emerge, leading to many wonderful changes in her life (including, yes, a long-term relationship), it was the difficult internal work she did – including making peace with her demons, challenging destructive self-chatter and letting go of wounding, to name a few – that led to those developments, not her flight path. That work is ongoing for her, I suspect, just as it is for all of us. And it’s not like her life has been all sunshine and rainbows ever since. She was sued by someone who didn’t like the way they were portrayed in her book, had a major battle to get US citizenship for her Bali-based husband, and a decade later, their marriage ended when she fell in love with her best friend – who passed away from terminal cancer little more than a year later. Oh, and critics haven’t exactly been kind about her work, either.
Here’s the thing: there is no one thing that will fix everything in your life – not a trip to Bali, a marriage or a diet. That is why meeting your soulmate doesn’t excuse you from the work of learning to love yourself and making yourself happy – the substantial volume of women in long-term relationships who contact me for readings saying they feel lost are testament to that. It’s also why landing a job that makes you look good on paper (or LinkedIn) won’t fill the emptiness if, deep down, you don’t recognise your own worth. And why moving to a new city or country won’t fundamentally change who you are as a person. To many of you, this might sound disappointing, but I think it’s incredibly liberating.
The power is yours
A few months ago, I went to a Q&A in Sydney with American illustrator Mari Andrew, who made a comment that has stayed with me. She observed that you don’t FIND yourself, you MAKE yourself. I believe this is a very important distinction. When we talk about ‘finding’ ourselves, it sort of implies that there’s some perfect, divinely guided path for each of us, and if we are lucky, it will jump out in front of us one day, and everything will flow smoothly from then on. Maybe you were supposed to become a parent, astrophysicist, nutrition blogger or nudist (hey, no judgement here!) all along, and as soon as you figure that out, you’ll understand why nothing made sense before. I’m sorry to tell you that it doesn’t work like that. But, as Mari suggests, changing the language from ‘finding’ to ‘making’ ourselves gives us licence to view our personal growth as an active pursuit rather than something predetermined and immutable. It empowers us to make our own choices time and time again, course-correcting when we find something is not working for us, without feeling like we’ve failed, and not pinning all our hopes on any one thing to make us complete and worthy of approval. It also liberates us from the idea that there is one shiny destination that will define you, which is a recipe for disappointment. Your evolution will take your entire life – that’s the whole point.
You do not need to be found, but you need to stop looking to external achievements and possessions to give you what’s missing inside. Want to learn how to bake macarons in France? Go do it, and enjoy the experience - but don’t expect it to change you on any deep level. Your understanding of who you are will evolve over your lifetime, so there’s little point looking for a definition. I am a writer, a partner, an aunty, a lightworker and a New Zealander, yet none of these things defines me. I have no idea who I am, and honestly, I don’t care. I’m too busy trying to make myself better than the person I was last year. It’s not a search, it’s a journey, and there’s no destination. Which is totally fine, because there’s nothing missing in my life. I may not be perfect (although my grandmother would probably tell you otherwise!) but I am whole and human and flawed and made of stars and, most of all, enough. Everything that happens from here on is a bonus and a lesson, not a path to salvation.
* If you’re struggling with issues such as self-acceptance and self-worth, energy healing might be helpful in shifting emotional blocks. Click here to learn more about the energy healing service I offer.