I spent my entire childhood looking for, trying to find out who I am. I always believed that the answer was, “Somewhere out there.” That if only I could search hard enough, dig hard enough, the answers would be all waiting for me somewhere, as if I just needed to read the right book or pay the right coach who would tell me who I am.
Then I hit adulthood and learnt that, “Ohhh… The answers are not ‘out there’ somewhere… They are ‘in here’ somewhere’.” Didn’t help me any. All that happened was that I did the same things all over again, except this time the shovel was aimed at myself.
I got so angry over the years. I felt I was working so hard, doing all the right things. So why weren’t the answers coming to me? “Why won’t someone just tell me who I am, so that I can get on with the being?!”
I wanted to know who I was with certainty before I would commit to any path of action. I didn’t want to “waste my time” experimenting or exploring. I wanted to get on with it now!
I worked as a personal development coach for a short while in my early thirties and I used to get so frustrated when I would so clearly see what my clients were great at, as well as how the meta-themes of their life wove together to create not only a great narrative but a great means of service, only to have the clients act as if they simply couldn’t hear me. The information went completely over their heads.
Today, I realised that that was exactly how I must have been like to the countless coaches I’ve paid.
Even when the answers are presented before you on a golden platter, you won’t see them unless you already accept and own them for yourself.
You don’t find or discover answers. You grow into an organic awareness and acceptance of them.
That’s why we can read countless books and be intellectually aware of how useful all that data is, yet fail to effectively or sustainably integrate them into our lives. It is not enough to know intellectually.
We are multi-dimensional beings. Intellectual knowledge represents only a single, tiny dimension of our human experience. Gifted people in particular are prone to living “in our heads”, guided by what we think we know.
But there are multiple modalities of knowing, just as the question of who we are is a multi-dimensional puzzle. It cannot be solved by intellectual data alone.
How then do we gain all the other modalities of “knowing”?—Emotional, somatic and intuitive etc.
Seek to answer questions via lived life experience. Approach self and life as a never-ending series of hypotheses that you seek to test out and affirm or dismantle.
What that means is that you must choose and create who or what you want to be in any given moment, go and live that hypothesis out and see how it works out for you.
In entrepreneurship, we call this iterative development. You formulate a hypothesis, test it and then evaluate the results to see what fit and what didn’t. Discard the elements that didn’t work (but learn from them) and then take your learning, combined with what did work and formulate your next hypothesis.
In doing so, you grow into your knowing of who you are and what you want to do in life. That way, when the answer does “come to you”, you realise it’s not so much that it came to you than you developed it over time.
This is essential to realise because I think many of us have the idea that if we only “knew who we are”, we would automatically and instinctively know how to actualise that knowledge. Who on earth came up with that idea? Even as babies we needed to learn and practice walking! And we started by crawling first!
The same applies to the question of who you are. Obviously it’s not enough for you to just know, right? You want to know how to be.
Well, the answers are neither “out there” nor “in there”, the answers are found in your choosing and creating who you are, proactively in the now, even if you don’t feel have any idea who you are yet.
Truth is, you will never know until you try, so choosing to wait until you “know” before you do anything is as good as choosing to wait forever because the answers aren’t going to come from anywhere else but your actions.