The Unavoidable Question

The Unavoidable Question
1.3.2016

The unavoidable question: who am I?

I’m sure we have all spent some time asking ourselves this question. Wondering who in the world am I? Where should I be going? What should I be doing? This question has been all too prevalent in my mind the past few years.

Who. Am. I?

I constantly get questioned, “okay you’re traveling, but what are you doing about your career?” Or, “when are you going to stop this nonsense, come home, and use your degree?” Or, “don’t you think you’re wasting your time and money? Shouldn’t you be focusing more on your future?” Or, “when are you going to start taking some responsibility for your life?” I think that my mom probably gets these questions more often than I do (sorry mom) but I know how she answers them and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of her support. Honestly, how am I supposed to start a career if I don’t know what I want to do? Should I settle and spend my life working towards something I’m not truly passionate about? Am I really wasting all of my time and money by experiencing what life is like in foreign countries? By learning about new cultures? By learning about myself? By becoming SO grateful for the life that I have been given? I am so thankful for all of these questions (they have helped me not completely fall off the beaten path haha) and for all of the compassion people have towards me and my future. But don’t worry everyone, I’m coming home soon, just adding a few more pieces to my puzzle first. ☺️

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs are more people who have come alive.” -Harold Whitman

December 2015 has been one incredible month. Truly a game changer. I’ve had so many crazy experiences, felt things I didn’t even know existed, and grown more than I thought ever imaginable. Throughout my life I think I’ve been a pretty happy camper, trying to always wear a smile, and look at the bright side of things. I’ve been aware of the idea that true happiness comes from within, but up until recently, I hadn’t truly FELT it. I’ve spent the last few years studying different subjects, traveling around the world, working different jobs, all in hopes of finding “myself.” Always searching for that something that would stick and make me happier than ever… What I didn’t realize, is that this happiness has been deep inside of me all along, I just wasn’t quite sure how to find it, or if I was even ready

I’ve spent a lot of time pushing feelings aside, suppressing emotions, trying to act strong in moments of weakness, being too dependent on others, hiding behind 80 hour work weeks, and a little too much partying. I think I’ve always been a bit scared to really face myself, totally accept who I am, and forgive myself and others for mistakes that were made in the past. It’s pretty crazy letting go of things that I didn’t even know I was holding on to! It’s only taken about 30 days of intense introspection… A serious body cleanse, about 80+ hours of meditation, 3 days of total silence, more crying than I’d like to admit, so much frustration and anger (on the inside and out), feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of giving up…….. But I would re-live every moment for this newfound feeling of genuine happiness! I’m definitely not even close to finding that pure bliss, but at least I now know where to keep looking. There is still so much room for growth, and I couldn’t be more excited for the journey that lies ahead.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside; awakes.” -Carl Jung.

The sound bowl would ring at 5:30 am every day, although most of our internal alarms awoke us earlier than that. Seeing the snow capped Salkantay peak in the distance made it worth getting out of our warm beds each morning, even if it meant seeing our breath before our face from the frigid air. With a warm cup of tea we made our way through the beautiful little sanctuary that sits on a hillside outside of Cusco, Peru. Surrounded by green vegetation and blossoming flowers, we would take our seats and wrap ourselves with blankets on the temple floor. Closing our eyes, sitting up straight, and focusing on our breath, we would try to still our minds for the next hour. It wasn’t easy most days, especially when we had so many beautiful distractions like bees buzzing, birds chirping, and roosters crowing. We could hear the little city of Arco Tika Tika gradually becoming busier, people honking their horns, dogs barking on every sidewalk and a few cat fights outside, or even on the temple roof. Our afternoon sessions were usually interrupted by incredible lightening storms and booming cracks of thunder. Overall, the hardest to ignore were the millions of thoughts we had trying to pry into our brains each and every second. Fake it until you make it, right? ☺️ Meditation is one incredible skill and something I will definitely have to work on for the rest of my life! It’s amazing how much my brain has already slowed down and started to become just a little bit more clear.

“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” -Jill Bolte Taylor

We spent each day learning fundamental aspects about yoga, the body, the breath, about our energies and minds. We had the most incredible, inspirational teachers, guiding us along the way. They were so passionate about everything they had to share, which made learning easy and probably too much fun. Most days were good, full of smiles and motivation, some not quite as good, with hopes of just making it through. I can’t even begin to explain how challenging the process was, and how grateful I am for the group of girls I got to experience it all with. Oddly enough we were almost always on the same wave length, so at least we were never alone. We pretty much went through an entire relationship cycle. We sang together, laughed together, cried together, sat in silence together, and supported one another each step of the way. These girls were all so motivated and driven, always working to improve themselves and help those around them. I don’t think I’ve ever been surrounded by a group of people who truly felt bad for the bee that died from stinging one of us or who wonders what the significance of having spiders crawl on them all the time is, instead of killing them at first sight. From each incredible meal we shared together (seriously, the food was unreal, absolutely delicious!), to excitement over hot chocolate and popcorn movie dates, staring into each other’s eyes, temezcal’s and flower baths, to bowel movement conversations and cold, or no showers at all (haha), we got to experience such an incredible transformation together and each of these girls will forever hold a spot in my heart.

“My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.”

Now back to the question of “Who am I?” I’ll probably never know who I truly am, although I have thoroughly enjoyed focusing on this question this past month. Humans are constantly changing and every experience that we have makes us a little different than we were before. How often do we take the time to just be? I realize that I have been given an incredible opportunity to spend a month looking inside and working on myself, and that not everyone has that same opportunity… but I bet we could sacrifice 20 minutes a day of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and snap chat, and instead just find a quiet place to sit down and close our eyes. To breathe deeply and let go of some daily stress. To clear our mind and simply just be. To forget about being a teacher or lawyer or student or athlete or server or manager or parent or friend or sibling or whatever label we have been identifying ourselves with. To just sit and let our emotions run through us. To listen to what’s going on inside our body and mind, and hopefully come to a place of peace and quiet after some (or a lot of) practice. We are all so busy, always trying to cross things off of our to do lists, to see this and do that, but are we ever fully present? Are we really happy? Start taking the time to get to know yourself, deep down. Forgive what has happened in the past. Let go of things that no longer serve you and aren’t helping you grow. Take the initiative to change the things you aren’t happy with in life. Slow down. Enjoy each simple moment. Be grateful. I know that this is most definitely easier said than done (I just spent the last 30 days working on it myself), but true happiness comes from inside, and you’re the only one who can find it! Learn to love yourself, inside and out, because you truly are, beautiful.

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

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2 thoughts on “The Unavoidable Question

  1. Love this, Julie! As always, you inspire!

    We are all born, placed her on earth, to KNOW who we are. The first 31 years of my life, I’d defined myself by what I “did”–I was a “doer” after all. Then, one day in 1996 I realized, “What if I could not ‘do’, then who am I?” The revelation came that stopped that search. I landed on the most solid, unchangeable identity in the universe. “I am a child of God,” and nothing I do or say, no matter where I go, or stay, I am a child of God. On that Rock my life has been unshakeable on the foundational level, leaving nothing to remain but the simplicity of that identity. All else is lagniappe, a bonus! And, the last 20 years have been spent weeding out all of the other thistles, that may look pretty from afar, yet caused so much pain inside. To walk free in spite of the debris is the most freeing of all. “I am not longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God!”

    Love you, and I look forward to your next post! Press on, girl! The world awaits you! Don’t let the walls of mere practicality stop you from the greatest adventure of them all. Inside of who you are!

    Like

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