Figuring out who you really are as an individual, along with your true hopes and dreams, doesn’t come easily to many people. I for one took a while to get there. Luckily role play is a very natural part of human life (especially when you’re younger), and because being myself was never really encouraged, for the first part of my life I focused on being anyone but me.
As a young boy I loved painting my face and pretending to be Ace the guitarist in the rock band Kiss. Yet equally satisfying was embodying my favourite football player in the backyard dressed head to toe in the colours of their team.
As a teenager and young adult, I tried on a few more identities. An Aussie surfer wearing fluoro coloured singlets, board shorts and thongs with a white nose covered with sunscreen. An alternative music grunge guy wearing a flannelette over a band t-shirt complete with Doc Martin boots. The raver dance guy, wearing a tight white t-shirt and 501 Levi blue baggie jeans.
When it comes to the New Age spiritual seeker, I have a mental block as to what I was wearing at that time (and probably for a good reason). I had taken on so many spiritual names that even I was confused as to which one to use on any given day. I also became a yogi guy wearing fisherman pants, yoga school t-shirt, marla neck beads and long hair made up into a man-bun.
It’s not that being part of a subculture or group is wrong. To the contrary, I see now in hindsight that in many ways immersing myself into those cultures was essential and helped me to evolve and know myself better. The pitfall was when I over-identified with a particular image and became a stereotype. It obscured and stifled me from experiencing more deeply the multi-dimensions within me.
Over time I have noticed recurring archetypes I like playing out, but the difference is that I don't get carried away with any one expression. Instead I just enjoy finding fun creative outlets for each archetype and overall expect and anticipate a continual change and shedding of skin – not dissimilar to that of a snake as a regular part of living, learning, growing and evolving in the human experience.
It’s also natural for human beings to want to be part of a tribe. In fact, in native cultures it was essential not to be excluded by the community if you wanted to survive. In so-called modern times, that desire to be part of a tribe still exists and is seen in the form of football supporters and music fans. However, this need for significance, connection and meaning is now being manipulated by businesses and subsequently turning people into slaves to a specific brand.
Spiritual movements, religious organisations and cults also attract followers by offering to fulfil the human needs of being part of a tribe and giving the individual a sense of identity, contribution, connection, meaning and certainty.
Yet the secret to being ‘you’ lies in not taking yourself too seriously and holding off on defining who you really are. Give yourself space. And if you find you’re leaning too much on any self-identity, remember that your soul is beyond definition. It wants you to stay fluid and open to continual evolution, so let go and invite all possibilities of who you can be to unfold to help you unleash your highest potential.
Remember that self-discovery requires time, space and supportive experimentation.
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