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March 29, 2017

One Question for when you are Feeling Authentic.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ~ Nelson Mandela 

A wise Nelson Mandela knew that the only way to move forward from where you are, is to choose it.

Many of us know we aren’t living authentically that we aren’t choosing to fulfill our deepest desires. But we also know that the work we would have to do on the inside is so oppressive that we stay small, and live a life less than what we are capable of.

“I am not interested in who you are right now. Who do you want to be? Be that.”

I heard my voice speak these words to one of my children this past week, and as soon as I did, I ran to scratch it down on a piece of paper.

Where had I heard that sentiment before? Oh yeah…an article I wrote. And then, a similar quote popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. I even heard it on the TV.

It was in a student’s presentation Monday night. It was in a song on the radio. It was everywhere, it seemed. Since I don’t believe in coincidences, I figured this was a message from the universe. I had a question though, was this a message for me to receive or deliver, or maybe it was both?

I can recall a time not so long ago when I thought myself a quitter. Anyone who knows me now would think that to be absurd, but prior to this “new Christina,” I was someone very different.

I had small thoughts; an indifferent life. I did what people expected and wanted of me, and for awhile, that is who I wanted to be: accepted, liked, and approved of.

I can’t remember the exact minute it changed, but I know that it did. I didn’t want to be those things any longer. I mean I did, because it was easier and more comfortable. But at the end of the day, I wanted to be able to say I was somehow more than the sum of who I actually was.

One day, I didn’t need to be “nice,” I needed to be honest. I didn’t need to be perfect. I needed to be flawed and human, even though I hated being imperfect. One day, I finally started doing something about what mattered to me, even if I had to let others down.

And while it pains me to disappoint and feel the disapproval of others, it hurts far less than being disappointed in myself. It hurts less than not liking who I am because I know deep inside that I quit on myself. I was afraid people wouldn’t like the real me and I was afraid I’d be alone. And now? Well now, I’ve lost some friends, even family, and sometimes I am alone, but I’m alone for the right reasons. I speak my truth even when my voice shakes instead of hiding who I am, and I wear my heart on my sleeve so it can get used and broken and loved, instead of sheltering it for when life is easy, which by the way, will never happen—life doesn’t ever get easy.

I no longer act on the premise of who I am today, but rather who I will become tomorrow. I finally realized that the people who accept your shortcomings, while still pushing you to be better, are your tribe and that everyone else is just passing through. “Keep on going,” I say. Don’t stop at my door.

I want the kind of relationships, both personal and professional, that force my evolution, not ones that let me off the hook. Don’t let me off the hook, not ever. I never want to go back to the person who chose comfort over truth and growth.

Was this a message for me or someone out there? I don’t know. I am not interested in who you are today. I am asking, who will you be tomorrow? What would it take for you to get past whatever ego-driven thoughts you have about staying small? Are you willing to leave them behind in order to become the best version of you?

Those are not easy questions. They require a mental fortitude and a larger vision that eclipses a small mindset. And, the questions must move us from “who” do I want to be to “why” and “how?”

Why do I want this change? How do I get there? These are the questions to guide us. Know your “why” and your “how” and soon you will know “who” you are. It is not enough to want to be different, you must act on it.

Higher level questions require higher level action, and we must have hard conversations with ourselves and others to get there. We must break the shell that shrouds our understanding, change our mindsets from “I can’t,” to “Oh yeah? Watch me,” and then we must rise.

So I’ll ask it again: Who do you want to be? Who do you want to be tomorrow and how can you get there?

1.) Know your “why.”

Why is this important to you? Why is it a must for you? Believe you are worthy of your “why.”

2.) Decide on “how.”

What steps will it take to move forward? Write them down and act on them.

3.)  Affirm that you will make it.

See things as they are and envision them getting better, not worse. Know that you can achieve whatever you decide. It’s not some positive voodoo magic, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

4.) Look forward only, but plan for failure.

Looking back keeps us stuck. It sabotages our ability to take even small steps towards growth, but inevitably, you will look back and when you do, here is how you survive:

Find your tribe. Make a list of three friends to enlist when the going gets tough.

Find your vibe. Make a list of  three activities to perform with your friends — one of which is physical—when the going gets rough.

This is your go-to when things fail.

5. Remind yourself “why.”

Go back to the beginning and remember why you are doing this. Always remember your “why.” Why? Because you are more and can be more than your current situation.

I am not interested in who you are. Who do you want to be? Be that!

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Author: Christina Lenway

Image: Elade Manu/ Flickr 

Editor: Deb Jarrett

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