I like who I am. It took me more than half my life to come to that conclusion, but I finally arrived at this point well past the end of my childhood.
When I say “I like who I am,” it is not an arrogant statement. Rather it is a courageous one. That comment is born out of years of soul-searching and self-examination. It follows a period in my life – many years ago – when I didn’t like myself so much. I didn’t like the way I felt, and as a result, I said (and did) some pretty stupid things. Many of my actions were the result of lack of direction, immaturity and foolish pride.
Sometimes it is hard for me to look back at my past. There is a lot to survey. Much of it is good. I have accomplished a lot, both on my own and with the help of others. I am very grateful for that.
However, I – like many people – have messed up on my path through life. I won’t air the gory details here, but trust me, I have some stories that are real whoppers! It is funny how we tend to glance past the moments of greatness and focus on our moments of weakness. I am not sure why people do that. Maybe it’s because often many of the mistakes we make are ones that can’t be unmade.
Whatever the reason for this need to obsess about our errors, the goal is to move beyond this skewed thinking, forgive ourselves, and let it go. Maya Angelou put it most clearly when she said, “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
Let’s face it, we didn’t get a rule book to follow when we came into this world. Aside from the basic laws of society, we did not have anything to guide us as we moved along life’s path except of course our inner voice. And what good is that voice if we had never been taught to listen to it. The truth is a lot of our lessons were learned via trial and error.
Just like the Emperor Tarot card (discussed in this month’s A Fool’s Paradise), we need to learn how to make responsible decisions that enhance our personal power. The Emperor is a person of action. He puts emotion aside to make the right decisions. He wasn’t born an emperor. He became one through trial and error. The Emperor is not always right. However, his actions are ones he can always defend.
That is how I got to where I am today. I am not sure at what point I made the decision to shift my focus to a higher, less-selfish thought process. I am guessing it was sometime around the birth of my first child. Prior to that, I was often operating from a more me-centered thinking. This is a very difficult point of view because it is insatiable and it is hard to justify.
Regardless of when it happened, I do know how it happened. My metamorphosis occurred when I finally stopped obsessing about how I felt the world viewed me. When I accepted that I cannot control other people’s opinions and beliefs, I found an immediate sense of peace. My decisions were made like the Emperor. I weighed the facts, compared the benefits with the drawbacks, listened to my inner voice, and made choices I felt were best – ones I could defend.
Now, this isn’t to say I didn’t cultivate the softer, Empress, side of me. I most certainly did embrace her finer, gentler qualities. Actually, I tried to morph both the Emperor and Empress to create a person who could make decisions that touch upon the more subtle nuances of everyday life. The Empress qualities helped me feel the impact of my actions on others.
Despite this attempt to blend the two, there have been times when I had to assume the role of the Emperor. I don’t always like having to do that, but I am okay with it. That is the beauty of my past mistakes. By having to accept and live with them, I have constant reminders of what not to do; of how not to make bad choices.
And that is why I like myself now. I trust myself to make the difficult decisions for the right reasons. This doesn’t guarantee success every time, but it does promise me that any future mistakes will be honest errors resulting from an unpredictable outcome despite thoughtful and considerate decision making.
Is it a perfect scenario? No. However, I am comfortable enough with myself to say I am pretty sure I can live with that.