Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity. Having been unemployed for quite some time now, I’ve been given the opportunity for some serious self-exploration and introspection. Part of what I found is that I had moved away from my authentic self. Much like Joe Banks in the movie Joe vs. the Volcano, when I thought about myself I found I was boring. Now before I move on I should probably give some definition and background here. In this case we are talking about philosophical personal authenticity. Nah, that sounds too high falutin’ to me. How about I just didn’t feel like I was being true to myself anymore and that I wasn’t living anywhere near my potential. Although I suppose coming out of earning a bachelor degree in my 40s, attending full time classes online while still working full time could cause anyone’s head to spin off its axis. But it was more than that…I didn’t feel like “me” anymore.
The me I knew was happy, fun, and loved doing silly stuff like dressing up in full Renaissance attire and attending the local renaissance fair or feverishly finding new ways to irreverently celebrate the holiday season such as planting a seven foot tall Grinch in my front yard facing my friend’s house who never decorates for the holidays. I wasn’t doing anything of the sort anymore. I was going to work, going home, doing homework and sleeping. Once in a while the real me would peek out during a vacation or a visit with my grandkids, but for the most part I was all business, nose to the grindstone, too busy for life. For four years I even dropped my favorite thing, reading books. For four years I read nothing but text books. For four years I more or less disconnected with friends or family. It was just textbooks books and my laptop. I graduated with honors for that, but at what cost?
I find it hard to say without sounding cliché, but losing my job was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. Losing my job caused me to closely examine what I really wanted in life. Losing my job made made me ask myself the tough questions. It was the first time I had ever lost a job and I had a lot of feelings about that too. So in between the usual job search responsibilities I began looking at what I really wanted, what would make me psyched about life again, and get me some joy.
Notice there is no talk about money here. Money really wasn’t on my mind because I’ve always known that money doesn’t buy happiness. Happiness comes from within and truth is personally subjective. The problem was that I thought I had been working toward something that I would be happy doing, but I was wrong. I had failed. Okay, no biggie, not like that hadn’t happened before, this one just didn’t happen on my terms.
Once I figured out where I wanted to go next, why, and how it fit into my plans for a happy and healthy life, I was good to go. Now I’m looking forward to the next open door, curious about what is on the other side and rarin’ for a change, to get back to me. Does this mean that I get to leave the rat race? No, I’m still seeking a decent “day job” because I have responsibilities and commitments (namely student loans and bills to pay), and I accept that. What I will not accept is getting so lost in the forest that I abandon my own truth to wild predators. The way to finding my own authenticity and truth for me was to be still and really listen. It was all there, I had just drowned out the voice.
Have you ever lost your way on your personal path? How did you get back to you?