On this first day of 2016, a question occurred to me. How often do we throw around “be yourself” when we spend the majority of our time being everything but? Through the daily choices, larger and small, am I choosing me, or someone else?
For many years, I wasn’t myself. I was a people pleaser. I was a good actor. I played the roles I thought would bring me happiness, acceptance, and love. I was hungry for it…starving for validation and connection. But the catch 22 of the whole thing is that I was never going to honestly have it if I wasn’t honestly myself. I learned that if it wasn’t really me, it would never really be love. I wasn’t loving and respecting myself. So why would anyone else?
Cultural habits make us think we are expected to live a certain life, be a certain kind of person, and make certain choices. We live the “American dream” by getting jobs we hate for “security” to live in an apartment and city you don’t love. To retire and die somewhere you don’t love. But if those choices aren’t serving you or bringing you joy, I have a radical new option for you this year. Change.
Instead of welcoming in the new year with champagne bottles, party blowers, loud noise, and massive crowds, it was silent. Brian and I set up a ceremony with candles. It was meditative. In prayer. Lighting flames and letting go. I made a list of all my past choices and habits that I am truly ready to let burn, and I lit that list on fire and let it do just that. Burn. Die. Go away. Past mistakes, hurts, baggage, pain, and labels. Gone. Changed. Why? Because I can. I am capable. And so are you.
We have been trained in our culture to believe we can’t change and view it as a difficult and sometimes even impossible feat. Start this year knowing that’s a lie. Donald Miller says it best:
“If something doesn’t change, it’s dead. God designed the world so that it is in constant motion, never sitting still, always dying and being reborn. Everything is changing, all the time. Even you.
Physically, you will regenerate several times before you die. The skin you have now will not be the same skin you have in 7 years. What this means for us is we get to let go of the mistakes we’ve made in the past. We also get to let go of the identity other people want to trap us in. We get to change.
We get to become somebody different.”
Basically, if your life isn’t healthy, honoring, and joy-filled, make new choices. Change. Quit. Grow. Evolve. We are brave enough to change. Courageous enough to choose love, respect, and kindness for ourselves and others. And strong enough to be good. Happy new year. Let go. Quit. Move on. And be yourself. Happy new year.