I was recently contemplating the notion that at any moment – a moment of our choosing – we can decide to become who we really want to be, or who we really feel we are. How liberating, if not easy!
Last week I woke up to fresh snowfall, the second for us so far this winter. As I eagerly ventured into the fields behind our house, this blanket of crisp, untouched white returned my thoughts to the idea of a refresh. Pressing refresh. Looking at something that’s the same but anew.
The heart of winter hardly feels like the time for action: instead, it’s more about stillness, observing and thinking. We now sit around the TV rather than the hearth absorbing stories, but I think the effect is more or less the same in that stories furnish us with ideas about the nature of the human existence, and our potential (even if we’re not consciously thinking so deeply about it in the moment). We muse over the future and what we’ll accomplish in the next season.
It makes sense for the wintry landscape to invoke the contemplation of ourselves. In many respects, our inner and outer strengths are being tested at this time of year – particularly now, mid-pandemic – and though we are still, we are also having to find the fullness of who we are.
And with intentional observation, we eventually feel the urge to follow with action and become the fullness of who we are. Just like in nature, stillness can lead to sudden growth. I am not an advocate of the ‘new year, new you’ mindset that focuses upon too much deprivation and action at a time in the yearly cycle when we should be slow, and filling our bellies and souls with nourishing foods and activities, but I find that I naturally lean into the reflective side of ‘who am I? what do I want? and is there anything that needs to change in order for that to happen?’. I think winter is a good time for this.
But it strikes me that we have the choice to change our identity or the course of our life path however, whenever, and as many times as we want. So much of our identity is built upon habit, learned behaviour and the opinions of others. It can be hard to break the pattern of who you have been for so long, but you can choose to press refresh whenever it feels like you want to.
For me this has been about acknowledging that I have been slowly changing and growing over the last few years, but that some of my actions and means of self-expression haven’t because I found it hard to let go of the identity I’d accumulated in my twenties. If people know you a certain way, to change even in small ways can trigger the primal fear of not belonging. But, who was I holding myself accountable to anyway? Who did I feel I had to explain myself to? We’re all free to grow and evolve – sometimes it just takes the habitual brain a while to catch up!
It is incredibly freeing to know that you can start being the person you feel you really are at any moment. We are not beholden to a set of behaviours or self-expression that we and other people may have come to know us by. And anyway, if you’re not growing, evolving, regenerating and experiencing new things and acquiring new loves, likes and passions over the years then you risk becoming stagnant – and is that not just a waste of life and opportunity?