For me, writing is a method of learning about myself and the universe at large. “Know Thyself” instructed the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and Socrates declaimed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In a modern life full of distractions, we can hit retirement age before realising we’ve not once paused to ask these most important of questions: who am I? why am I? how can I become what I desire?
All things change as they age. This change is inevitable (and vital!) – so I believe it’s important to embrace it, and choose how to shape it for ourselves. One of the key methods of doing this, for me and probably for a lot of other people, is by examining my values, core beliefs, ideas about self. With that knowledge, I can guide my life towards purpose that makes life worth living.
As a child, I believed that life was a straight line, and that all I had to do was follow the “correct” steps to be successful – but of course I didn’t really know exactly what success I was hoping to achieve. My plan was typical and straightforward: school, uni, career, marriage, house, children, age, die. But during my teen years, I came to a crossroads where I realised that I had to make a choice – keep blindly following one path and ticking off goals as if life was some sort of game with a strategy guide to help me win, OR change my paradigm to acknowledge that life is an ongoing, fluid process – and that reaching a destination doesn’t matter as much as enjoying the journey.
I mean, I realise that this is pretty cliché, but I think that’s because it’s also true. Trying to achieve goals set by other people led me to anxiety, depression and crisis. That old worldview walked hand in hand with worry and regret, and drove me to a breakdown, aged 16.
Nearly two decades later, I’m trying instead to live in the present, and to explore all life has to offer with curiousity and an open mind. I’ve always been mad about learning new things, but instead of limiting that education, I’ve opened myself to a variety of experiences by practicing being vulnerable and brave, honest and inquisitive, patient and accepting.
And this too is a work in progress.
“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I am afraid of.” – Josh Weldon