The kind of job you have, the amount of money in your bank account or the type of clothes you are wearing does not define who you are. Rather, it is your heart and soul that makes you who you truly are.
Okay, admittedly that sounds a little heavy. But what I am trying to say is: stop identifying yourself over what you do or do not have. Have you ever wondered why we give external things like the latest iPhone, clothes, a job, an education even, the power to determine who we are – or rather who we think we are. Why do such things have the power to make us feel big, beautiful, and confident or on the contrary to make us feel small, weak, and insecure?
For too long, I have followed the belief that I need to reach a certain level of education, have a well-respected job, wear the certain clothes, have a certain amount of money in the bank, in order to have made it. Made it to what? To a successful and happy human being? I spent money on things that I truly believed I needed and were meant to make me feel more happy and more confident when walking down the street. This bag would certainly boost my self-love and self-confidence! Knowing that I got this job finally allows me to believe in myself. Too bad, I had to learn it the hard way. That bag, that well-paid job that so many people wanted, the many many friends waiting in that bar or whatever it might have been in that moment, have simply not filled that void within. Believe me, I have tried this a couple of times, just to make sure: what you have on the outside does not, not even a incy-wincy, tiny little bit, change the way you feel in the inside.
What I truly wanted (still do!) was nothing I could possibly find in a handbag, shoes, a job or savings account or even a relationship: faith and trust in myself, confidence and courage to follow my dreams and passions. For that, I had to look inside of me, and take time to be honest and true with myself. At first glance, this seemed to be more challenging than anything else especially, than keeping on striving after all those beautiful things to attain, acquire or achieve out there. But looking back on the dimensions of disappointment when that boost of self-love and confidence or faith in myself just didn’t happen, I must admit that it couldn’t have gotten much worse than that.
It was about time to drastically change directions.
The first steps are the toughest ones, and maybe it is even wrong to call them first steps, they are more like a foundation for the whole thing: truly believing that the way you are, is exactly the way you are supposed to be. There is nothing, and really nothing wrong with you. Having faith in yourself and trusting that whatever it is that you want to do is the right thing to do – as long as it comes from a place of love.
The best example is this blog. I have played with this idea for so long, but for some reason it took me more than three years to actually get started. Why? Because I did not believe in me, did not trust in me and was scared. What if I failed miserably? What would other people think of me? What would my friends and family think? You cannot imagine the scenarios going on in my mind – they were and sometimes still are strong enough to doubt my every step on this journey.
So what has changed? I (try to) let go of my expectations. Of course, I would love for people to read my articles, share their own stories, spread the word BUT in case they don’t, it’s still okay, I’m still okay. I love to write and enjoy all the work and time I am putting into this project and that is more than enough! Actually, that is all that matters. The rest, so I trust, will fall into place by itself. This project and its outcome does not change anything about me as a person, it is not me, it is way of self-expression which I simply enjoy and don’t want to let go of out of fear.
Self-identification vs. Self-expression
I believe this is the key to being courageous, authentic, the best possible version of yourself, happy and throughout this journey in the end maybe even successful in what you are doing.
Self-identification is defined as “the attribution of certain characteristics or qualities to oneself.” If, however, we tend to shift away from characteristics and more towards material and external things that we identify with, we are following a path of self-destruction and continuous worries and doubts. What we should identify with, however, is kindness, compassion, and love.
Self-expression is defined as “the expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas, especially in writing, art, music, or dance.” If we try to see all the things that matter to us, as a form of self-expression, rather than an identification, they automatically turn into something bigger, better, and more enjoyable. Why? Because with that ease in mind, we can relax and simply enjoy them while they last. What I am wearing today or what I am writing about today, does not define me. It is a form of expressing my likes, dislikes, opinions, experiences or feelings, and that means, there is really nothing to worry about at all when doing so.
Unfortunately, this realization and differentiation is an ongoing process and requires practice. But whenever fear shows up and I start to doubt myself or worry about other people’s opinions, I now know that it is completely overrated. Yes, it is new, unknown and even a little scary, but the more I practice it, the easier it gets and the more fun it is. I feel more authentic and real and try not to let the walls we all have learned to build around our thoughts, feelings, and vulnerability, affect this.