To change your life, you have to change your life.
I think it’s fair to say I’ve been in some form of existential crisis since childhood. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been consumed by questions about my place in this World and what I should do with my life. In the past, I always sought solace in a promise to myself that things will be better next week, next month, or next year. But there’s only so many times you can say mañana before it starts to mean never; and, as time started to hammer home its fatal inevitability through physical decline, I found I could no longer salve my mental angst with stories of a better tomorrow. So, on the brink of an alcohol fuelled self destruction, and catalysed by two key events: what should have been a dream job souring unfeasibly quickly; and an extremely stressful, ill fated relationship ending, I set out to find an answer to my existence.
The journey took me to the familiar territory of my upbringing breeding fear of failure and a desire for perfectionism. Yet, where previous exploration had stopped here, this time I found a means to keep going. Peeling back layer upon layer of my psyche, I found a tangled undergrowth of self made rules, each more ridiculous than the last, sustaining a complex maze of beliefs about how things should be. As I cut through these rules and beliefs, and shone a light into the dark places of my head, I found ego. I found a need for control. I found inauthenticity. This changed the game: extrinsic excuses were replaced by intrinsic reasons.
While I was unsurprised to find the source of discontent within me, it was still a difficult place to find myself. It wasn’t easy to accept years of dissatisfaction, anxiety, stress and depression were all of my own making. Yet, at the same time, it has been surprisingly easy to move forward from here. Once I became aware of my ego’s role in my angst, I could look for it and when I caught it is easy to challenge and dismiss. When I feel the bubble of emotion rising I can ask myself, ‘why do I feel this way?’ More often than not, the answer is my ego feels threatened, undermined, fearful or powerless. From there, I always find my true self to be unperturbed. The emotion passes. The ego silences. No longer is there a voice telling me how things should be. No longer is there a fear of not being good enough. No longer am I consumed by comparing and ranking myself against real and imaginary others. The void this negativity occupied has to be filled. I find, having previously been pushed down by the egoic mind, my true passions and beliefs are flourishing here, sparking new possibilities.
It is through the silencing of the ego, I have found a path to understanding my existence.
This wasn’t easy, it wasn’t a light bulb moment. Not only have I had to accept the emotional cost of admitting I was not the person I thought, and that the person I was, is not a person I particularly liked. It has also been a financially and temporally expensive slog to get this place. Years of therapy; hundreds of books; thousands of hours of podcasts; endless self experimentation; meditation of all forms; not to mention the self sabotage along the way. Don’t mistake me, it was worth every ounce of effort and I would take this cost a million times over to get to where I find myself today.
There were, and there will continue to be, countless setbacks and missteps, because this isn’t the end of a journey. All that has happened is I have managed to make my way to the start.
While I’m no closer to knowing to what I’m going to do, the path ahead looks clearer than before. I now find myself optimistic, positive and excited to explore what it means to be me. There is no end goal, nor do I intend to define one: the only objective is to explore the limits of my own potential through an ethical, sustainable and authentic life. There are going to be changes. I know what some of these changes will be and others are still unknown. Some of the changes will be expected and others will be a surprise. Some are going to be a subtle shift, while others will make my previous choices seem hypocritical.
I’ve written this account for a few reasons: firstly to solidify and work through my thoughts, and secondly to establish some accountability. I would also like to show people you can always change, it’s never too late to follow your dream, or even to start to look for it. I also admit there is an element of ego in writing this; I’ve not found Satori yet, my ego is still there chuntering away and it’s had a hard time of late, so chuck it a bone with a like or nice comment. Finally, writing this piece is to serve notice on negativity: one of the first changes I am making is to cut out negativity. I welcome challenge and criticism, but if all you can offer is judgement you will be removed from my life with extreme prejudice.