How I Saved Myself
I saved myself by surrendering to the self.
From a young age I found myself lying awake at night and contemplating where I came from. Why was I here on Earth? Why was I living in this body, with this particular family, and during this period in time? I was consumed by thoughts about my purpose and the point of life.
The ultimate existential question has always been, “What am I doing here?”. While there’s no one correct answer, or even one that we could know, it’s still a question that we all ask at one time or another. But I’ve come to realize that we’re being led astray when trying to find an answer.
This is how I see it: all parts of the question, “What am I doing here?”, are focused on purpose. How we should contribute our time and energy to the world. Yet we’ve been taught to only focus on certain parts of this question -with the most important part getting the least amount of attention.
If you’re occupied with the “doing”, then you’re most likely worried about having meaningful actions in your life. Some common concerns may revolve around what job you have or how productive you feel. Is what I’m doing going to make me and others happy, or is there something better I could be doing with my time?
Or perhaps you’re more interested in the “here” part of the question. Is the timing and location of my life right? You might tend to overthink the situation that’s surrounding you, whether it’s having the right job, house, or relationship. Could I be somewhere else that will bring me closer to my ultimate goal? And if you’re thinking about “here” in relation to what’s out “there”, then you are curious about your origins. Thus you are focused on discovering and following a “higher” purpose that’s bigger than your own.
So, what am I doing here? While all aspects of this question are important to answer, there’s a very essential part that tends to get left behind – the “I”.
It wasn’t until I was stuck in the US awaiting my permit decision that I was forced to confront this part of the question.
At this point I had shipped or sold most of my belongings and was already living in Sweden for 3 months. I had written articles for my website which detailed reasons and ways to live authentically and fully. Although I was eating healthy, doing yoga daily, and exercising, my self-worth dropped the second I was sent back to the US. I quickly realized that as much as I was talking the talk, I wasn’t walking the walk.
My happiness was dependent on where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing. I knew that this decision making process could take another 2-6 months and I knew I couldn’t feel this way for that long. Each day I was succumbing to the stress of my current situation and letting it get the better of me. I wasn’t motivated to engage in any of my interests or hobbies. I slept in, rarely left the house, and didn’t want to meet any of the friends, family, or colleagues I hadn’t seen since I moved. There was just no point -no purpose- to my life.
It felt like I was stuck in a groundhog’s day scenario. Every day was repeating itself without really going anywhere. I had never felt this type of emptiness before. It didn’t help that both mine and my husband’s birthday’s happened to fall during this time apart. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love celebrating my birthday, and since meeting my husband we’ve taken a birthday trip together every year. But this was the first birthday in my life that I didn’t want to celebrate, mostly because I didn’t think there was anything in my life worth celebrating.
It was shortly after this that I became frustrated with myself. Why did I ruin my birthday? Why couldn’t I appreciate being with my family who loves me? And why didn’t I spend my day doing everything that makes me happy, instead of sulking about everything I was missing? These thoughts stuck in my head and started to nag at me. It was then that I knew I wasn’t living, I was just surviving.
My life didn’t matter until I got my permit and could live with my husband in Sweden again. I was just passing the time. I realized that I was waiting for the next thing in my life to bring me happiness. How ironic since this was the mindset I was trying to prevent in my articles. It wasn’t easy to choose happiness when all I wanted was to wallow in my sorrows. But I knew if there was a reason for our separation then this choice was it. If I wanted to truly embrace what I was writing about, now was the time.
Each day I woke up with a purpose and looked at my day through the lens of positivity. I created a routine and made sure to start off my day with yoga and writing. Then I spent time in the afternoon reading new books, taking our family dog on walks, and completing an energizing workout before dinner. I would end my day relaxing with a new show or movie and a, “Good night, good morning” video call to my husband. Although I still had a continual pit in my stomach and could break down at any moment, I did my best to set myself up for success.
By giving myself these small actions of love I was reminded of my worth. I could find happiness now. Once I embraced this mentality I immediately saw the positive lessons in my situation. Although I was constantly filled with uncertainty, anger, and fear, it taught me to find my inner strength. I knew I never wanted to feel so powerless and hopeless again. Because although I couldn’t control my situation, I could control how I reacted to it. I allowed the negative emotions in, but I knew I couldn’t let the darkness win.
What started as the worst time in my life suddenly became a time for reconnection. I was reunited with myself and the power I had within to choose how I experienced life.
So what am I doing here?
That is the part of the question I rediscovered and which holds the most significance to me. When I found moments of happiness I felt that it came from within me. It didn’t matter what job I had or where I was in the world. What mattered was appreciating and being true to myself -no matter the circumstances.
Through realigning with myself and reclaiming my “I”, I’ve realized that many of us focus our energy on the parts of our lives that will never stay the same. Throughout our lives we’ll constantly fluctuate our focus between the “doing” and the “here”. But what we always can rely on is the “I”.
The “I” isn’t what everyone else sees when they look at you, it’s what you see when you’re alone. When you focus on the true “I” think about what makes you unique. What are my talents? How can I live authentically in order to honor the real me?
Although it does matter what we’re doing and where we do it, they should both try to align with the inner you. Because at the end of the day the only thing we actually have is the “I”; thus it’s where we should be focusing our attention and energy.
So the real question of “What am I doing here?” isn’t, “What am I doing here?” or “What am I doing here?”, but “What am I doing here?”. Then in any situation of uncertainty we can focus on finding meaning in ourselves. What lesson can I learn, what solution can I provide, or how can this help enhance my abilities?
When we look inward to find our purpose – the reason for being in this moment – we’ll always find an answer. The answer is what brings you closer to becoming the true you.
This isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s a constant choice of finding the light, even in the dark. As I was pushing myself towards the light, I could feel the darkness holding on tight. Fighting to stay alive. As strong as they are, our negative emotions are there to teach us and show us another way – a better way.
It’s only when we’re drowning in our deepest, darkest depths that we fight the hardest to stay afloat. So when you find yourself stuck in a sea of sadness, change your perspective and stare up at the stars instead. The guiding light will lead you towards a new day, a fresh start. I kept waiting for someone or something to show me the way and guide me towards happiness. But once you look within, you can follow your inner light and you’ll never be lost again.
Related RWY Practices
Back to Kee’s Corner