Monday, May 30, 2011

Test Driving a New Life

As my self-discovery journey continues I realize that I am just a little bit closer to living the life I want. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that I believed a couple of years ago that I had let myself lose big parts of my identity by spending too much time and effort living on other people’s agendas … work, spouse, societal expectations. I even found myself buying into some misguided assumptions of aging. The destination of my journey was and is to re-discover the real me and design my life around that. Along the way I’ve picked up a couple of awesome new passengers and dropped off a few others. At times the journey is painfully slow, covering mere inches per month, but when I look at where I was two years ago and where I am now, I see I have made great progress.

Socializing and breaking patterns are two characteristics of the ‘real me’ that I have focused on and two weekends during the past two month stand out as markers for making progress. In both cases I test drove parts of my new life.

One was my four day mini trip to Asheville. People who hear me talk about that trip and the friend I visited think something is going on that is not. She and I have become great friends who really dig each other as people. In some aspects of our lives we connect with each other in ways we do not connect with anyone else. Time we spend together celebrates that. She is on her own discovery journey, has suddenly reached some of her goals and I am one of the people in her life who encouraged her to keep trying. She has done the same for me.

The current holiday weekend is another stand out for me because I did some things I like to do that I don’t usually make time for and I socialized in a pattern-breaking way. Saturday I saw a local band I like at a local festival I had never been to. A co-worker who likes that band was going to meet me there but she and her friends ran late and didn’t get there in time to see the band. But her Dad, an even bigger fan of this band, did show up and we spent time together watching the band and talking about music. We had never met prior to that day. A good example of pattern-changing for me.

Yesterday I spent eight hours on a boat, something I enjoy but have rarely done for decades. There were eight or nine different people on and off the boat during the day but I only knew one of them, another work friend. Her boyfriend owns the boat and the other guests were friends of one or the other of them. Great socializing and I was outside of my normal pattern of spending time with people I already know doing the same things I always do.

This might seem like little things to you but they are huge steps to me. This is the life I want and have denied myself for many years. I’ll point out that I also like spending time alone and I have absolutely no problem repeating patterns; I do not have to change all my patterns to get where I’m going. I am a complicated mix of personality traits and part of my self-discovery is gaining the confidence and comfort level to just be me, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

Using a book analogy, I’m on the last page of the current chapter and I’m about to start the next one. Continuing my test drive metaphor, I’ve taken my new life for a spin, picked out the options and I anxiously await delivery. Thanks for sharing the ride. Stick with me … more adventures to come.

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