When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time doing skill assessments. I had a hard time finding out what I wanted to study at university, and what career could suit me best, so my mother thought that going through these tests would help. It didn’t really, as I was always more confused about my abilities and my choices. However, it was an enjoyable experience as I always discovered something new about myself. So when I had to complete a test on strengths as a homework for the second inner journey class, it was quite familiar and I thought I had an idea of what to expect of the session.
The purpose of this class was to help us answer what could seem a simple question – who am I and what am I bringing to the table? If I had to answer this question at the beginning of the session, I would have probably talked about my multicultural background and my various work experiences. I am very glad no one asked me! One of the main activities we had to do was reflecting on our Life CV — our experiences since we were born, but not the usual academic and professional experience. This exercise was illuminating for me.
I was surprised to see the quantity and variety of activities I was involved with during my childhood; I was the lead singer in a choir, I performed in several plays, I even wrote a short book about a cat, I learnt Italian thanks to my baby sitter. I spent a lot of time in Nature, thanks to my grand-mother, which triggered my interest in sciences – I collected stones, played with a microscope and telescope. At that time, I was very confident. I enjoyed making people laugh and cry. I enjoyed making them feel something. I was extremely creative. I liked to create shows, even if at the time, I was a really bad dancer. I loved dancing, and that’s all that mattered.
The years that followed were less intense. ‘just for fun’ activities and creativity were replaced by volunteering and work experiences. My focus shifted from things I actually loved doing to things that would take me somewhere in life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every event I organized, every fundraiser I set up, every project I was involved in. My priority, I thought, was to find myself. However, I understand now, during these years, I actually lost my essence. This exercise was a real slap in my face. I felt like I betrayed the super ambitious and creative kid that I was. The kid that was curious about everything, who wanted to try everything. I did not know it, but I was missing this person that I once was. It took me 15 years to realize that who I really am is I wanted to be more like the 10 year old me. Hungry for life.
Then, we had to reflect on another question; what would it look or feel like if I’d be able to tap into the best version of myself more often? All the time? I closed my eyes and I tried to picture what this could look like. I did not have to imagine, I knew exactly what this could look like. For many years, I had been scared to express who I really was. Not because I was scared of not being liked by my peers. I allowed myself to be small. When I was a kid, my parents allowed me, and gave me the space to dream as big as I could. This was both a blessing and a curse. It did not have barriers, I was genuinely not scared of saying what I thought or felt. But in a society that often mistakes confidence and strength for arrogance, knowing what you want to do and who you want a be at a very young age, and expressing it, can be scary.
I remember that the people in my life used to tell me that I was like a little sun that brought joy and happiness into their lives. Why did I stop shining? Why did I allow fear and society to take control over my life? Actually, it does not matter. What matters is that I am now aware of it, and I can change that. I can bring my 10 year- old self back to life.
On the Side : Zahara – Shine