|Visit Emily McDowell's webpage here|
‘Finding yourself’ is not really how it works.
You aren’t a ten dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket.
You are also not lost.
Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are.
‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself.
An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.
I checked out a bit of Emily McDowell's story. In her twenties, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Now, in her early 40s, she authors and decorates what she calls, "Greeting cards and gifts for the relationships we really have." Clearly she is an extraordinary person whose experience changed her life and the way she sees the world. Not satisfied with simply living her own life differently, she helps others to understand or, at least, send more understanding messages to those in life challenging situations.
The quote above says something about the return to self that has been chronicled in this blog. I recognized what I called my façade. At first it seemed that although it wasn't something I liked about myself, I would try to maintain that façade; that was the title of this blog for some time actually - "Maintaining the Façade"
As Emily suggests, I unlearned and excavated myself. In retrospect, I can see times in my youth where I might have challenged the world. Instead, I helped the world bury that true person.
It would be pleasant to think that the person I am now is somehow a reflection of whom I might have been without that conditioning. I am, instead, a reflection of a different sort of conditioning, self-imposed in order to be happy now. Where the façade felt wrong, who I present to the world now feels right and good.
Along the way, I have learned so much and have found family and a partner whom I love and who love me.
By what might be called, in a huge over-simplification, a fortunate set of circumstances, I have returned to myself.
I am home.