My “soul searching” journey started almost 5 years ago.
I decided I was going to challenge myself and do something new. I had reached a point in my life when I thought, “Is that it? Is this all I want to do with my life? Have a stable job, be a good wife and mum and that’s it?”
As the universe does it best, I started being presented with opportunities to help me challenge myself. A dear friend introduced me to a group called “comfort crushers”. This is a group of people who come together and put themselves through challenges that deliberately put you in uncomfortable situations and force you to feel uncomfortable.
This may sound strange, but the results speak for themselves. An article will be written just on this topic because I feel it is important to understand and go through, if you want to challenge yourself and come out as a conqueror at the end of it. It is a guaranteed confidence booster. As we all know “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.
So back to my story.
I am part of this wonderful group and we meet every Saturday. We start our session at the organizer’s apartment and anyone can give a talk on any topic. At the end of the talk, people give you feedback on it. This is also a way to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, but at the end, feel good about your accomplishment. This is another challenge I wanted to conquer. Standing in front of people, having a topic that is interesting to the crowd and taking in the feedback from the crowd. That was ticking off quit a bit out of my challenge list. It may seem a bucket full but it truly is worth it.
So I summed up all my courage and gave in my name for the next available Saturday. I didn’t even have a topic in mind. I was just focusing on challenging myself. After days of thinking about it, I realized there is a topic I have been circling around in my continuous search for my true self and what I’m all about. And it just hit me “Being authentic”.
So I prepared my talk. I researched on it, practiced it in-front of the mirror a couple of times, wrote my speaker notes and even got great quotes. I mean I even made a print out with a really cute picture and a quote that went with it. Seriously I was overly prepared. I had this in the bag with a beautiful red bow ready to deliver. Nothing could go wrong, I knew my stuff. So I thought.
On Saturday morning, I got all dressed up and cute, put my afro all high, printed my lovely quote and speech notes and put them on a folder. I even had my last rehearsal in front of the mirror and I winked at myself and said “You got this Ceri”. I get into the train and as I feel myself starting to get the jitters (as the nervousness grows) I tell myself, “It’s fine dude. You are fine. Just relax and don’t think about it too much. You know your stuff and you’re going to crush this.” And it helped. I just changed my thoughts and made them happy thoughts. I am really good at that. Blocking the world and going to dream land is so my thing, because it works. I felt relaxed and life felt good again.
So I had to change trains a couple of times and I stopped thinking about it.
Then I got to my final train stop and I looked down.
“Authenticity is a daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be, and embracing who we are.”
My heart sunk and this is why.
When I left home both my hands were holding something. One with my well prepared notes and the other my handbag.
Now only one hand was occupied with my handbag!!
I will never forget that moment. I felt my heart literally sink down to the floor. Like for real. Suddenly my heart started racing and I had a little break down. Oh my goodness I wanted to die. I immediately called my friend in full throttle freak out mode.
“Helena”. I said. “ It’s over. I lost my speech notes”. I thought I was going to get a freaked out response but she was so calm. She is a coach and trainer and the best friend a girl can have. She just said, “Its fine Ceri, just come, we will sort it out”.
I was like ok ok ok. I can do this. I got to the apartment and everyone was so lovely. They are all happy to see me and so excited to hear my talk and in my brain I’m thinking, “Dudes, you have no idea how I have messed up”.
Then my friend and I go to the bathroom and the full freak out comes out. I’m in tears and saying things like “Its over, I’m done. How could I do this. I was so prepared”. You know that feeling when you think it’s all over, and you have fully messed up? That was me with an extra level of freaking out.
Helena then says something that I will never forget and I use it until today. She says “Ceri you have practiced this, you have written it down, that means you know this. It’s all in a drawer in your head and you can reach out for it at any time. So here is a pen and paper and just write down the talk as it comes up in your head. Because it’s already there, it will easily resurface”.
So I did.
I calmed myself and started writing. I had to look into my phone again for the quotes and all but everything else just came back to me.
When I stood in front of these lovely people, I knew I was being taught a lesson by God or the universe or whatever you want to call it. But at that moment I knew this was exactly how it was meant to be. I was giving a talk about how to be authentic and I was at the peak of my authentic self. No notes, no cards just me. One could not get more real than that.
Needless to say I got an over whelming positive response that changed my life. You see, I had this belief that I had no talent or skill. Until that day, when someone in the audience said this. “You have a talent”. I literally cried my eyes out. The thing is, this was the first time I had heard that sentence. I was over 35 years old and no one had ever said that to me, on anything I had done. I had a belief in me that limited me and it was broken on that day.
You know those moments in your life that just change you in such a beautiful way?
Well this situation did that for me and I am forever grateful. It reminds me of a phrase I found. “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” (Lao Tzu, Philosopher). That day, I got a glimpse of what I might be.
It is never too late to find who you are and what you want to do with your life. You can be over 30 or 40 years and still be on that journey. We seem to have some kind of time limit when we are meant to have figured everything out. This is so untrue.
We are all different and special in our own way and whatever time we need to find our authentic selves is satisfactory to us. No one needs to judge it for us or set a limit for us. Start your journey today. Discover who you are and what you are made of. The only catch to this, is that it is found outside of your comfort zone.
“Be your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be. Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else. Give yourself permission to be your authentic self.”