“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” –Carl Jung
Twenty-two. African American male. 5 foot, 10 inches. Son. Brother. Public servant. Preacher. College graduate. Old soul.
That’s who I am externally, but who I am internally? What makes me smile? What gives me joy? What gives me satisfaction and fulfillment? Those are the questions that must be answered when embarking upon self-discovery.
The easy answer would be that my family is my number one joy, Jesus gives me total satisfaction, and wanting to see better for others gives me total fulfillment. However, that’s probably 10% truth and 90% false. No, it’s not to say I don’t love my family, Jesus, or helping others, but I can’t neglect myself in the process.
My generation—the millennial generation—has been labeled many things. An instant gratification and satisfaction generation, lost, misunderstood, immoral, lazy and the like…similar to that of our parents and grandparents’ generations while they, too, were in the process of discovering themselves. Labels often bestowed upon the rising generation, but rarely applied to the elders or persons who influenced a generation. The Pew Research Center found that “[j]ust 40% of adults ages 18 to 34 consider themselves part of the “Millennial generation,” while another 33% – mostly older Millennials – consider themselves part of the next older cohort, Generation X.” Have labels causes some to escape the journey of discovering themselves?
I pose those questions because it’s been a matter of discussion between men and women my age lately. We view the lives of our parents, grandparents, and others and see the dissatisfaction, while also observing the seemingly robotic movements of toxic contentment.
“Why don’t they just move on?”
“Why don’t they just deal with what everybody sees?”
One’s twenties are said to be the years not to waste—a time of self-discovery, encountering love, embracing passion, and living authentically. Yet one must still navigate the dreams others have for their life and accept that which they believe for themselves. All the while trying to discover who, in their life and circle, is sincere and beneficial to their total fulfillment. This journey can be lonely, tiring, challenging and exhausting while uncertainties looms.
The process of escaping the noise and destroying preconceived desires must be done and done strategically and early. Failing to do so can cause one to live in the truth of another and die in the emptiness of self. Why die in a truth that is not yours? Why live a life you did not desire? And, why be absent from a reality in which you actively exist? Failure to eradicate the noise and others external desires hinders one from abundant living.
Discovery of self can embody faith, love, hope, service or the inclusion of all or more. Mark Twain stated, “I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” And Henry David Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
The words of Thoreau resonate. “I wished to live deliberately;” “and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” And such is what I want to do and aim to do daily myself. Live deliberately, unapologetically and authentically in my truth, calling and purpose. Live to the extent that there is no doubt in my being of who I am, and not just what I do. Knowing that the life I live is not a life in which another has dreamed, self-desired, derived or established by virtue of the inability to live in their own truth.
“Twenty-two. African American male. 5 foot, 10 inches. Son. Brother. Public servant. Preacher. College graduate. Old soul.” Those are the statements and words in which I used to begin this article. All are truths about me, yet do not speak to the totality of me. Whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist or none of the aforementioned, we all must discover our truth, live in our purpose, discover our passion and be authentic. While the journey to self-discovery is never monolithic, it is a necessary journey to a free life.