In the last three months, I have cascaded through the depths of human emotion. Feeling everything, and nothing. Immersing in the overwhelming panorama of what it means to be alive: agony, abandon, trepidation, and the culmination of it all: acceptance and a genuine peace of mind. It's a lot to experience in a single season. And that's not to say I'm writing this to mark the end of a journey – the journey continues, but I feel an astounding need to share the most important thing I've learned:
Do yourself a favor, and meet yourself.
Really. Learn how you operate. And why. Learn why you say the things you say, why you love a particular color, how you react to particular movie scenes the way you do, how you feel when you're alone, and why you feel that way.
The answers will never be in a listicle your friend shared on Facebook. They will never be in advice columns, in books, in movies, in blog posts on somebody's personal website. These will inspire you and offer you fresh, new perspectives, but the answers will always reside in you. You just need to ask the right questions, and look deep enough within yourself.
And more importantly: you have to be honest. So often we judge ourselves and turn away before we unwrap anything remotely close to the core of our truths, because it's the easy thing to do. And from there we unconsciously seek a distraction – something that doesn't require so much of our souls' immersion. But give yourself the time, listen to yourself, be there with yourself. It's amazing how much you can learn about the soul you inhabit if you spare enough moments from your day.
Answer your own questions; everyone has a unique collection. Everyone has their own set of demons: whether they dress as doubts, fears, worries, regrets, insecurities – they hang around and they fester and they prevent the genuine joys so many people never actually miss because they're unaware of their existence. Only they often do feel something missing, they just never know what it is. Ask yourself. Learn for yourself in your own terms and in your own time. And you will know. It will be loud and clear and life-changing.
I have not mastered life in the last three months, but I have come close to mastering mine. I have since found that genuine joy. I have since found genuine connection. Through the suffering and the constant questioning of "why me?" I finally just asked "why?" And instead of asking the world, or the heavens, or the gods, or whatever comfort we often seek outside ourselves, I asked myself. Because unlike the world, the heavens, and the gods, I have my own answers. I realized that, and it has made me a stronger person – a better person.
I knew I'd eventually get here. And having arrived to this place: having arrived to me – the honest, stripped and completely open to love and happiness version of me, I can say I am so relieved I didn't waste another moment running in circles around myself, trying to navigate my life without putting my hands on the wheel.
So whether this made all the sense in the world, or none at all, I leave you with this: there is not only a clarity that comes from finding and understanding yourself, but an endless index of opportunity: taking the time to learn of and appreciate the nuances of your soul gives you the ability to recognize your souls' counterparts. Whether those lie in places, in words, or in people.
The age-old adage is that you have to love yourself before you can love another. This is true. And much like some of the things I've already written here, it's a worn ornament of a cliché. Until you make sense of the sentiment:
Once you meet yourself, once you feverishly run through all the questions you've consistently dodged in an effort to evade your own demons, once you befriend those demons and finally understand their place in your mind and in your being, you become in tune with your core. That core, that soul of yours, will guide you to the places and the moments and the people whose souls compliment your own.
You can never love another without understanding where that love within you comes from. And you can never completely identify that place until you open the door and walk around the territory yourself.
It lives in you. You are capable of love, happiness and all the wonders of the world. They're located in the same spaces as the fears and worries you consistently avoid. Walk in, step through to yourself. Study the architecture of your own world. Learn of the nuances, the quirks, the significant smalls and the insignificant substantials. Do yourself a favor, and meet yourself.