Become Who You Are by Learning Who You Are

EACH OF US IS BORN with innate curiosity.

As kids we yearn to know how the world works, so we eat some grass to see how it tastes and create intricate worlds with nothing more than sheer imagination.

Before we started caring what others think, we put our thoughts on the page, our recipe in the oven, our sense of self on the line. A child’s spirit knows no bounds.

But as we get older, we feel rejected if our innate talents and interests don’t garner popularity, which is the worst thing for a kid to feel.

We question who we truly are.

At a certain point, maybe it’s high school or college or beyond, we have to decide if we’d rather fit in or become the unique individual that our world desperately needs.

Who are you?

A seed striving to blossom. A river seeking the ocean. An individual note, looking for its song. We aren’t born knowing who we are, like an IKEA dresser with simple instructions for assembly.

We learn.

We discover who we are by listening to our inner voice, despite the noise telling us what we should be; by following our childlike curiosity, no matter where it leads; by dedicating ourselves to something that genuinely interests us, and by taking one step after the other, no matter how much we stumble.

Legendary writer Robert Greene writes in his book Mastery:

At your birth a seed is planted. That seed is your uniqueness. It wants to grow, transform itself, and flower to its full potential. It has a natural, assertive energy to it. Your Life’s Task is to bring that seed to flower, to express your uniqueness through your work. You have a destiny to fulfill. The stronger you feel and maintain it — as a force, a voice, or in whatever form — the greater your chance for fulfilling this Life’s Task and achieving Mastery.

Our life’s task is to become who we are, by learning who we are.

The Climb is Everything

Applying to college demands that we choose a clear-cut path which will lead to a perfectly suitable career. And for some, this is the case.

Still, no journey is without its setbacks, pivots and resets. But if you know what’s at the top of the mountain — the skill or goal or change you’re seeking — the formidable climb will be worth it.

For those without a seemingly linear path, it can be demoralizing to climb when you don’t what you’re climbing for. That’s where our mindset needs to shift.

I will give this moment, this pursuit, this season everything I have, because the climb — for those who don’t know where their path may lead and for those who do — the climb is everything.

I don’t know if this thing will work out; there’s no fluttering flag up there. There’s only snow, heartache, and unimaginable beauty, drifting with the icy wind.

You feel it; we all do — a calling of the heart and soul that urges you onward. Dig deep, and ask that kid you once were what they would climb for — and then never stop moving.

Reaching the top of the mountain isn’t the point; the point is to discover who you are along the way.

Become Who You Are by Learning Who You Are

I never wrote a journalism paper in high school (sorry Mrs. Stowell, still love you) nor did I enjoy English (I’m sure there were moments, but hey, it’s been a while).

I was part of my satirical high school broadcast, which led me to choose journalism as my college major. Yet in college, I realized I didn’t want to be a broadcaster, and I did NOT enjoy writing news stories.

When I graduated, I started writing about uncertainty regarding what I wanted to do with my life. The more I wrote, the more I connected with the kid I once was — the kid who loved to read, paint, create.

Creative writing became my way to evoke the childlike spirit within me, looking for his place. Through writing, I chip away at the stone concealing my essence — who we are at the core of our being. I write to uncover who I truly am.

Greene writes in Mastery:

Some 2,600 years ago the ancient Greek poet Pindar wrote, ‘Become who you are by learning who you are.’ What he meant is the following: You are born with a particular makeup and tendencies that mark you as a piece of fate. If you allow yourself to learn who you really are by paying attention to that voice and force within you, then you can become what you were fated to become — an individual, a Master.

Perhaps it’s not obvious, but if you have a deep desire to discover who you are and what you’re truly here to do, all you have to do is continue.

It may not feel like it, but you’re growing; growth doesn’t happen in a straight line from start to finish.

It’s not measured in dollar signs or number of kids or places traveled. We compare it in those ways, but there has to be more to growing, maturing, right? Growth is our spirit, blossoming like a flower in multiple ways to receive the world like a flower draws a bee; our spirit then travels, expands, and contributes color and the fragrance of our innermost being.

Leap Headlong Into the Sea

Since I graduated from college, I’ve had several potential career paths, from retail and interior design, to real estate and sales. And while I gave these jobs what felt like my all, they weren’t me.

Now I work in a restaurant by day and cultivate my passions with the rest of my time — writinglearningphotography, and hosting a podcast. These activities are the lighthouse from which I scan the dark and unexplored sea, seeking new knowledge, perspectives, and unknown potential.

Still, I’m scared, and I question what I’m doing pretty much at all hours.

It’s terrifying out there where monsters lurk beneath the surface. Are you scared, too? Good.

It means you’re going where you’ve never gone before.

In Mastery, Greene discusses the brilliant 19th-century poet John Keats, who took a leap of faith when he wrote his first epic poem, Endymion.

In Endymion `{`Keats`}` later wrote, ‘I leaped headlong into the Sea and thereby became better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore and… took tea and comfortable advice.’

We all face mental roadblocks, like the feeling that we’re unworthy of pursuing our dreams. Does that mean we should stand idly on the shore, hoping a boat of opportunity comes by to swoop us up?

Does that mean we should sheathe our ice picks and never begin the uphill ascent? Absolutely not.

If we choose what’s easy now, a comfortable job or the certain safety of the shore, we’re only setting ourselves up for disappointment later on when it’s more challenging to embark on a new path.

Do the hard work now — question, seek, explore, and cherish every step of the slog.

Set Yourself Up for Expanding Possibilities

What we truly want seems unattainable, so many of us settle for what “makes sense” for the time. And I’m probably doing this too. But according to Greene, if we succumb to this pressure to settle in our twenties and thirties, we’re setting ourselves up for a straight and narrow path in life. Greene writes:

This is how you pass your twenties. You want to learn as many skills as possible, following the direction that circumstances lead you to, but only if they are related to your deepest interests. You are not sure where this will all lead, but you are taking full advantage of the openness of information. You move by trial and error.
In this new age, those who follow a rigid, singular path in their youth often find themselves in a career dead end in their forties, or overwhelmed with boredom. The wide-ranging apprenticeship of your twenties will yield the opposite — expanding possibilities as you get older.”

It can feel like if we haven’t embarked on the correct career path in our twenties or thirties, then we’re falling behind when we should be moving up.

When I see others climbing higher in their respective fields, I feel like I’m losing time since I’m not as far along, or so it seems.

But I have no idea what that person deals with inside, and what matters besides that?

I don’t know if he’d be happier tending his own farm instead of grinding in the city, or if she’ll always regret not trying to be a professional gamer because of what her family would think.

Each of us is on an individual journey — the only thing we can compare it to is where we stood yesterday. Our growth should be based on how much we’re learning, trying and failing, for there’s an unsurpassable joy that comes from pursuing what lights us up inside.

In my brief existence, I’ve found the greatest joy, peace, and light by adhering to my desire to understand the world. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Go — embrace the quest to understand.

Goethe and the Daemon

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was an 18th-century playwright, novelist, scientist and politician who epitomized what was known in the Renaissance as the Universal Man, “a person so steeped in all forms of knowledge that his mind grows closer to the reality of nature itself and sees secrets that are invisible to most people,” writes Greene.

His pursuits transcended borders of art and knowledge, from literature to science to politics and history. At twenty-five-years-old, he wrote The Sorrows of Young Werthera book which brought him sudden success.

Yet, instead of striving for further fame, which he could easily have secured, he set out on a different path, that of his daemon — “a spirit of restlessness that impelled him to explore beyond literature, to the core of life itself,” writes Greene.

All that was necessary was to master and channel this spirit, implanted in him at birth.

The times have changed, but our circumstances are very much the same. There’s the allure of success, which causes us to compare and become what we’re not.

There’s the well-trodden path, which ensures safety and comfort and, yes, a pretty damn good life. And then there’s the calling of the daemon, our inner being that’s entwined with the source of life.

The Path of Love

The path of the daemon urges us to learn about the world, simply to quench our thirst for understanding.

It compels us to try, fail and climb, because feeling your muscles ache and your head spin with uncertainty brings greater meaning than any false sense of comfort could. When you’re climbing, you feel something real.

Most of all, the path of the daemon is the path of love — love for yourself, foremost.

To follow the calling of your heart and soul over anything else means you trust yourself. You trust the process, and you trust the universe, because following your heart will set off a reaction of love none of us could possibly comprehend.

Become who you are by learning who you are, and life will be nothing short of a fucking adventure.

No Comments

I'd love to hear your thoughts!