Finding oneself, who you really are, is one of the hardest tasks in anyone’s life. There are several small voices that keep telling you how you aren’t enough. Voices that short-change the course of what you should be doing and where you should be. For the most, it is society. Society can be very cruel; telling you what you can do and what you can’t do emphatically: society hardly looks out for your strengths, it strangles you, telling you how less important you are. It can get to your head and make you hate yourself and what you love doing, just to conform; it can make you beg for lighter shoulders.
Recently, I was telling a friend how I am dealing with impostor syndrome, I am at a point in life where I have lost confidence in myself in things that even society knows that I am really good, like writing. I am only lucky that I still have great admiration for reading. Writing has always been therapeutic for me, as is reading. In finding the meaning of life, I have had to walk so many journeys with writers I have never met whose words have become points of light, like Viktor Frankl.
I have read hundreds of books during the course of my life but one book stands out for me, man’s search for meaning, more than any other book I have interacted with, it helped appreciate life and everything that comes with it in ways I had never imagined, to see life clearly at its lows and highs: because, in earnest, that’s where we find the meaning of life.
“Everything can be taken from a man,” Frankl writes, “but one, the last of human freedoms, to choose one’s way in any given set of circumstances.” I have grown conscious of one thing, everything is temporary, some days will be dull, tough, unbecoming and you will feel like giving up but never ever think that is permanent, if you stick to hope and reach your wells of resilience, there is no doubt that you will see a better day: when it rains, expect it to shine again.
At the start of my teenage years’ favorite song, when I look at you, Miley Cyrus sings, “Everybody needs inspiration; everybody needs a song, a beautiful melody when the night’s so long,” this song comes in my mind every time I am under the bad weather. Even when I want to be a point of light to my fellow human siblings, this song rings home: towards what do I orient my life; inspire hope, and be a point of light through personhood and human decency.
I did an introspective, on what people say and know me for, I was left in awe. It is flattering that no one gave me a negative attribute but considering I know I am an imperfect messy glory, I said to myself, “these friends love me,” of course I don’t mind negative constructive feedback.
According to my friends, this is who I am many things: Grace is a great writer, selfless, speaks his mind unequivocally, real and hates hypocrites, loves his children, full of human touch and connection to the perils of human frailty, is an incurable romantic, loves women with natural hair, shy at first sight, avid reader, gentle, has self-love, father of twins, a great gardener and that I pay them in dollars and cut the bullshit.
As my friend David Brooks writes in the road to character, “we are called at certain moments to comfort people who are enduring some trauma. Many of us don’t know how to react in such situations, but others do. In the first place, they just show up. They provide a presence. Next, they don’t compare. The sensitive person understands that each person’s ordeal is unique and shouldn’t be compared to anyone else’s,” and that is accurate! We each have come a long way to get where we are today, crossed so many rivers, valleys and hills, we each owe ourselves and above all, God, gratitude: thus far the Lord has brought us.
As simple as it reads, the question, (who are you?), never gets an immediate right answer. I was recently watching a Christian movie, overcomer, I got teary as I did, but if my tears meant anything it is that the message in the movie sunk in: that surely the beauty in the broken. Human beings are inherently selfish, all of us, our goodness is mostly clouded by this. In answering who we are, we parrot that which only serves our ego, and even without thinking through forgetting that, in retrospect, on our own, we are nothing. So, I am a child of God. And as I have written, God is the greatest; all the rest is background noise.
Finally, for anyone to find oneself and meaning in this world, in life, as much it is important to say yes, it is also prudent to note that no is an answer, too. As Sarah Knight so perfectly says, “the first thing you have to do is to discard those things that don’t serve you, the things that annoy you, that do not bring you joy,” she explains. “You have to be honest with yourself and you have to really sift through it all and go: why am I doing this? Why am I spending my time, energy and money on these things that I don’t want to do, with people I don’t like, with time I don’t have? After that, you organize life around whatever is left.” Life is for the living, as I have always written, medals aren’t given to the dead. Be your best self. Be authentically you.