From a very young age, I created an identity for myself. I was pleasant to be around. I was helpful, friendly, cheerful and empathetic.
I tiptoed through life on the feelings of others. I felt their need for stillness, and I was quiet. I felt their need for energy, and I was full of life. I felt their need for fun, and I was spontaneous. I felt their deep pain and I was compassionate, comforting, kind or silly.
A smile from someone else became my reason for being.
On a deeper level, maybe I always knew that my own happiness could not be dependent on other people. That someone else’s reaction to me and my behaviour was in no way linked to the quality or integrity of me or my behaviour. I was not put on this Earth to please.
I didn’t understand the word tragedy at such a young age, but I identified with the feeling of tragedy the most. It was the one feeling that was my own and not borrowed for someone else. It was deeper than the other feelings.
In that place, I was still able to laugh and play and be a kid. I loved football (soccer), camping, white water rafting, running until my lungs hurt. I felt pure joy when I made a friend laugh. I felt pure happiness when I made a family member think I was smart, considerate or any kind of special.
But beneath every smile I was aware of a slight cracking within myself. I hid it well, but it was there, compromising everything that I was.
It is strange looking back at my earlier life and knowing that this was my place of comfort. It’s where I felt my truest self. Tragedy was me. I was building up to something so fascinating, so dramatic, so painful and so destructive. Me.
I no longer feel this sense of tragedy within me. It didn’t shift overnight. It was many years of change that slowly built a new feeling inside. Over the last year or so, I have tried to place a finger on what that feeling is. What is it that most relates to my heart now after all the healing?
Peace is the resounding answer. Unknowingly, it is what I always craved. I wanted to feel peace inside of me and now, for the most part, I do.
Sometimes, I get caught up in the other stories and the other identities. I am someone’s partner. I am someone’s daughter. I am a sister. A friend. A manager. An athlete in spirit. A health enthusiast. A coach. A kickboxer. An instructor-in-training. I am the way I look. I am my face, my hair, my body and my clothes. I am the way I interact with others. I am someone who cares deeply and works hard. I am every mistake I ever made. I am every triumph. I am my past, my present and my future.
But if any of these are stripped away, what’s left? If you take away my work, my passions and my love, what is left of me? If I was no longer a daughter, who am I? If I was no longer a coach, who am I? If I no longer looked this way, who am I? If I no longer had the use of my legs, who am I? Why am I here if I no longer look and sound and act like me?
Beneath all of it is a desire and a radiance of peace. That is who I am. It is who I have chosen to be. It is who I have worked my whole life to be. Behind every tragedy, is the rhythmic breath of the world as it continues to be. This is where I choose to spend my time.
I chose to no longer be defined by who others need me to be or who I think I should be. I am me. I am peace. It is at the forefront of everything I do.
If you ask my friends or family, they probably think I’m weird. I sit by myself and stare out of a window (AKA: meditating). I jump up and down before being in charge of a situation. I run when my mind is filled with too many thoughts. I work on my physiology tirelessly. I know that the way my body feels deeply connects to the way my mind feels. I want peace and so I create that for myself. I am the creator of my life. It is far from perfect but it is my life and my being.
When I identified with tragedy, I smiled a lot. I also drank, took drugs and felt suicidal thoughts a lot. I spent every day telling myself that I was utterly worthless. I hated myself and I hated the fact that the world had betrayed me.
When I identify with peace, I am sometimes unemotional in comparison to my past. At first, I worried I didn’t feel. I was losing my passion, my spirit, my inner fighter mentality. I realised I was able to observe more and interact less. I could help more and struggle less. I could support and love and be as compassionate as I always wanted to be, but without the pain behind it. This is who I really am.
Our identity is so strongly interwoven into our being.
I challenge you to consider not who you are in the external world, but who you are inside. What emotion resides in your soul?
Begin to put down the stories of who you think you should be. What do you want to feel every day of your life?
If you aren’t living the life you want, it’s time to start asking yourself some questions. It’s time to start shifting. You are the creator of your life. It is so important that you are you. There’s only one of you and the world needs you.