When I told my colleagues that I’d taken up a dangerous sport, they all gave me that look, that look that somehow combines a curious raised eyebrow and an overly concerned frown at the same time.
I was three pages deep into The Chimp Paradox and I couldn’t put it down. My lifestyle back then was so hectic that the only chance I’d get to read it was on my work commute, so I took to the roads of Liverpool walking seven kilometres home with said book in hand.
Fortunately, that hobby only lasted three days because I gobbled down every word at serious speed.
There’s a line in that book and I remember exactly where I was when I read it. And I remember exactly what it felt like reading those words in my head before I stopped in my tracks and spoke my answer out loud.
…imagine that you are 100 years old and on your deathbed with one minute to live. Your great-great grandchild asks ‘Before you die, tell me what I should do with me life?’
“SEE THE WORLD”
My response to those words rushed out of my stomach and poured out of my lips within in a nanosecond. I had zero time to contemplate my response or reason with it, that’s just what it was – one of the biggest raw components that make up the core of who I am.
That pause in my step felt like it lasted a lot longer than it probably actually did because I was having a bit of a lightbulb moment of some sort. Realisation was rushing through my veins and I was standing in front of a metaphorical mirror.
I had veered so far away from who I was at the core of me that I didn’t even recognise myself anymore.
I was in my home city, working for a company that I liked but didn’t love, in a relationship that wasn’t right and almost feeling coerced into having conversations about futures that I dreaded.
Liverpool will always be my home and always have the biggest piece of my heart but I didn’t want to be there. It was nothing to do with escapism and all to do with adventure, I really did want to see the world.
No matter how much I nodded my head in agreement, I did not want to buy a terraced house and do it up as a project then sell it on. I did not want marriage. I did not want kids. I did not want to walk on those same pavements every day.
If my head hadn’t been so polluted, I would have no doubt seen this much earlier on and got out, but it was polluted and I hadn’t seen it.
When I read those words in that book, I started picturing it like a spirit level that we all have inside us, at the high point in our stomachs just below the rib cage, where the core of us is. And if we stray too far away from who we truly are, our spirit level is out of balance.
And then I thought of Shakespeare. Maybe his oldy worldy English and worldwide fame has put me off acknowledging his geniusness until now, but his words circled my mind. To thine own self be true.
So at that point I really started looking inwards and working out who I am and what makes me happy. I didn’t make changes overnight, they took time, but I did start to focus my attention inwards.
There were two big benefits to doing this. First of all, I was understanding what drives me, what makes me tick, what I want out of life, what and who I care about and helped me slowly start building the future I wanted.
Secondly, it started laying the foundations of self love because acknowledging and understanding the core of who you are gives you confidence and conviction to be that person no matter what.
If you really do your homework, you dig deep into your own psyche and understand yourself on a whole new level. You acknowledge your weaknesses and either choose to accept them as they are or change them up.
No matter how hard you try and ‘fixing’ yourself, you will always be perfectly flawed.