I can say with confidence that the moment a person truly starts down the path of self-discovery, they will never turn back. Many may ask the question, "What is self-discovery?" or "What do you mean you don't know who you are?"
The American English Dictionary defines self-discovery as follows:
"a becoming aware of one's true potential, character, motives, etc."
Ignorance towards my true self is something I lived with for a long time. Self-discovery means many things. It means finding your purpose in life (we all have a purpose), it means digging deep into your childhood and revealing the experiences that shaped you... good and bad. It means realizing what your beliefs are and living by them. The effects of self-discovery include happiness, fulfillment, clarity and maybe even enlightenment! The journey however is not always an easy road. The journey includes fear, confusion, misunderstanding, doubt and literally re-visiting all your choices in life. I like to refer to it as spring-cleaning of the mind, your emotions and your surroundings (including the people in your life). It requires making some tough decisions and sticking to them. My journey so far has seen me cut people out of my life. I call them the "takers." They were takers because I allowed them to be and it wasn't until I realized that many of these relationships were one-sided -- self-discovery -- that I decided to cut them out. It has also seen me completely change the course of my life and start to follow my true passion and purpose (this blog). I have also started to set intentions and no longer have expectations from others -- okay... this one is really hard for me and it's a work in progress -- but instead I have started to look within for answers. I've had several set backs along the way and I have no doubt I will have many more but, I'm not giving up.
What I know for sure is that the journey is worth taking. I am slowly becoming calmer, more aware and more tolerant. I am learning how to pay attention to my feelings and understand myself better.
What I know for sure is that I have been very hard on myself for most of my life. I have not been truthful with myself and have had unrealistic expectations therefore, setting myself up for disappointment. Why do we do this? Why do we lie to ourselves? And more importantly, why do we allow ourselves to get away with it? When someone else lies to me and I find out about it I freak out. "How dare he lie to me? Does she think I'm stupid?" but, we lie to ourselves profusely and even cover up our own lies by accepting them as truth in order to reassure ourselves that it's okay??!?!?!
For example: I have body image issues. I have always had body image issues yet covered it up by lying to myself. When I was 14 I even tried to starve myself thin. I would convince myself that I was happy with the way I looked when deep down I knew I wasn't. I worked so hard to cover up how I really felt by masking my true feelings. "I'm happy with my hips" I would tell myself and "I like my perky butt," even though deep down I hated the way I looked. I'm not implying that what I was feeling was a good thing but, it was what I was feeling and ignoring it, or pretending it didn't exist was doing no good to me -- or my body image issues. Eventually, it became exhausting. Recently, I started working on accepting the fact that I have body image issues and acknowledging my feelings towards them. I am not suppressing the feelings I have anymore instead, I am admitting to them therefore diminishing the threat they once held upon me and reducing the hold they had on my life. There comes a freedom with accepting your feelings and emotions. It's like a release of some sort. Like you've identified the elephant in the room and waved at him so you no longer have to pretend he's not there. Once you acknowledge the elephant in the room he doesn't bother you anymore. You learn to co-exist and be okay with his presence and not allow him to control how you act and feel anymore.
What I know for sure is that being true to my feelings and acknowledging them as well as validating them has released so much fear in me. It has released my fear of not being good enough as well as my fear of not living up to the expectations I set for myself. What I know for sure is that we are usually our own worst enemy. We hold ourselves back in so many ways and I am ready to move away from that pattern. I'm not suggesting that these fears no longer exist within me because they certainly do and, I don't think they will ever go away but now that I am aware of my true feelings and now that I am becoming conscious of my real beliefs, they no longer have a strangle hold on my life. Instead, I have a hold on how they can or cannot affect me.
My message is this... Stop being your own worst enemy! Stop lying to yourself about your emotions and feelings and start accepting them and allowing yourself to feel whatever is it you feel. The freedom you will feel within yourself is reward enough however, the universe will give you back the love that you have finally and justifiably started to give yourself. This I promise you!
"When I discover who I am, I'll be free."
-- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Until next time...
To read more articles by Eleni visit her Blog at: http://www.thechatterboxx.com.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
Follow Eleni Makedonas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheBoxxChatter
Fiji Shark Studies
A Journey of Discovery, by Merry C
My parents advised me not to fall in love in high school. They warned me it would never last and could only end in disappointment. Yet, here I stand on the edge, eyes tightly shut, lips pursed, heart racing, ready to take the plunge. With a splash, I enter the crystal clear water and open my eyes to all that I have been missing.
My passion for exploring the ocean started four years ago, when I grew bored of the same old summer camp routine and longed to experience what the world had to offer. Eager to see what lay beneath the waves, I embarked on a Scuba diving trip in the Caribbean. As I drew the first breath of cool, dry air from my regulator and glanced around at this otherworldly place, my love affair officially began. The colorful corals swaying with the soft current, the rainbows of fish darting to and fro, and the lazy sea turtles slowly trekking through the endless blue inspired a sense of curiosity for a place I had seen mostly from above. Since that summer, I have traveled all over the world exploring the secret wonders of the world’s oceans and continuing my quest to see where this passion leads.
After exploring the coastal waters off Honduras and the Red Sea of Egypt, I was ready to learn about the creature that has intrigued me most. This past summer I completed an academic trek to Fiji, where I studied sharks for a month in the most personal way possible, observing them in their natural environment. My heart raced when I saw that first torpedo-shaped figure dart into sight, and my body froze in fear as a 13-foot bull shark snatched a fish head just three feet from my face. Yet, strangely enough, at these moments, my fear turned to fascination.
By the last couple of dives, I leaped into the water and searched around as if looking for old friends. With my new knowledge, I saw these “man-eaters” in a different light. The characteristics that most people fear did not look so daunting once I realized their powerful jaws and speedy agility are the perfected products of millions of years of evolution. When I started my shark studies, I had a healthy respect for and a bit of trepidation about these feared creatures, yet by summer’s end, I felt like I was leaving my fears behind and bringing home in its place a renewed passion for the ocean and all of the creatures that reside in it.
My sense of adventure has started me on a journey of discovery. Exploring new places, learning new things, and experiencing different cultures have become seeds within me that I will continue to nurture. My travel experiences have enriched my education beyond what I have learned in the classroom. From the migration patterns of sharks to the proper way to drink Bedouin tea, my discoveries of the world have coincided with my personal discoveries. I have learned that there is no fear that I cannot face, and that new situations and new people cause me to feel excited rather than anxious. Each new culture I experience teaches me to appreciate differences; diversity is what makes us unique. Most important, I know that a smile can overcome any language barrier.
I guess my parents were wrong. My first love has never disappointed me and continues to excite me. I look forward to each new adventure; whether beneath the earth’s waters or on the earth’s surface, there is a lifetime of learning that awaits me. This is one high school romance that may lead to a life-long commitment.
By Merry Cherney
Signing off, Merry C