Last week I took my daughter to visit one of her college choices and as fate would have it, a college I had attended for a year. As I listened to the Director of Admissions talk, my mind wandered into past decisions and feelings I was realizing were still present. I had chosen this college for its program of environmental science, yet after a miserable freshman year, I transferred to another college in the same town, happy to keep friends and housing the same.
I enjoyed my time as an architectural student and felt no regrets for becoming an architect instead of an environmental scientist. Yet I would be lying if I said I have not wondered over the years if I wimpled out by transferring to a different college instead of staying where I was and making it work. My parents had taught me to vanquish any obstacle in my way-not to go around them, let alone walk away from them. But as life has helped me to learn, a strength applied indiscriminately can be less of an asset and more of a liability.
I listened to the admissions director talk about how attending an academically challenging college “made what was most valuable to a person (pointing to her head) strong”. The 3rd time she pointed to her head as the most valuable part of a person, MY head had the most wonderful epiphany! My decision to change colleges was a wise and courageous choice to honor what I needed, not a weakness of character on my part nor wimping out on a challenge.
So why had I been judging myself as lacking all these years?
Because I had not consciously claimed changing colleges as better for me, I had defaulted to my family’s belief I had failed a challenge. The story I’ve told myself for years was that I lacked what it took to succeed, when the truth was the college lacked what I needed. I didn’t realize at the time leaving home didn’t mean I had left behind beliefs not my own. I was young and did not understand the difference between leaving something and letting it go.
Looking now at what often has seemed the mystery of my life, I can see the beautiful designs of my soul’s guidance towards my destiny. Bending to one’s soul is not always easy and at times lonely and solitary of family and even friends. When life challenges you for learning to stay true to yourself, it takes both grace and grit to do so and at times you may question your sanity. Yet trusting your soul’s wisdom will bring you deeper understanding of yourself and your purpose in life that your intellect alone could ever bring you.
I leave you with a few suggestions, ones well worth spending some time alone with or in a supported process of being witnessed.
- Reconsider the story you tell about yourself, with a heart willing to receive your mistakes, your failures as footprints where your soul showed up to redirect you towards a destiny.
- Honor where you stood to your needs, your preferences, your way of being instead of telling yourself how you were wrong, weak, or defective somehow.
- Your true story is one where you are much less perfect, for your “flaws” make you much more interesting!
- Look at yourself through the eyes of your soul and hold as precious where you believed you lacked, choosing to treasure yourself instead.