What does it mean to “find yourself?”
Do you think only a chosen few reach that ultimate place of knowing their place in the world and in life? Or, do you believe that most of us move through life driving from one experience to the next without a roadmap?
Get in the car with me and let’s go for a drive. We’ll explore four steps on navigating the road to self-discovery.
It all starts with a spark…
You find yourself watching something super cool on TV or social media. A thought slips into your mind and you ask yourself: “Wouldn’t it be fun if I could do that thing?” You feel stirred. How do you to bring more of this wonderful feeling into your life? In this moment of inspiration, do you let the buzz of the new attraction wash over you for a minute or forever?
Step 1: Getting in the driver’s seat
At first, you find the keys, visualize your destination and start heading in the new direction. Your excitement starts to build as you open yourself up to this possibility. As you shift into cruise control, you look for road signs and gather information to keep you on the “right” path. In college, I dreamed of becoming an international lawyer. I believed that serving, as a PeaceCorps Volunteer in Lebanon, would be a valuable step forward in achieving this goal. Plus, I really loved the idea of traveling and helping people full-time.
Step 2: Creating a map
Along the road, you encounter accidents, dead ends and gridlocks. Are you going to get frustrated and scared and turn back home? Or, will you be determined to find another route? Once I shared my idea to volunteer abroad with my parents, they prevented me from choosing this opportunity out of fear. For weeks, they expressed strong concerns about my safety as a woman and an American in a foreign country. Plus, it was culturally inappropriate for women to leave their home until marriage. Although I listened to their reasons, my folks could not change my mind about serving others. An alternate course opened up – local volunteering with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Within a few months, I was assigned to work as a paralegal for Persons with HIV/AIDS in Hartford, Connecticut. The road trip of my life was about to start in full gear.
Step 3: Driving day and night
As you cruise along your new track, you experience days of real strength and confidence that the road is clear and easy. And then there are storms and traffic jams, like doubt and regrets, which steer you off the road. Will the rough patches pass anytime soon? Come on already-you have the speed and momentum to get to the finish line! Leaving my family and friends for Hartford was an emotional detour for which I was unprepared. What was I thinking? Was I really leaving home? Will I be okay? Patrick, my grade school friend, was also joining the Jesuit Volunteer Corps that summer. He picked me up and I piled my belongings into his station wagon. Within a few hours, we arrived at orientation in the Appalachian Mountains. Once my heart landed at its destination, it burst open at the seams. My faith led me to this place. I was home. The internal compass continued to guide me to people, clients and causes which became my new life navigators.
Step 4: Heading home
Finding yourself means traveling along a chosen or assigned path. The path has curves and hills and roadblocks. At some point, you see your destination up ahead. You make it your mission to get there no matter what. When you finally arrive at your desired spot, you see you landed somewhere special-your freshly furnished inner home. Two years flew by in Hartford and to this day, my heart smiles at the life-changing events and friends who helped me along the way. When I returned home to Cleveland, my innermost self had grown-up. Yes, faith was the key leading me to the open road and back home again.