Do you ever just wake up one day and realize you’ve been completely delusional for, perhaps, your entire life?
Do you ever just look back on your previous thought processes in bewilderment, maybe even empathy, wondering at how you’d ever lived in that kind of mindset? Do you ever feel truly sorry for your younger self for having been so dependent on others for your happiness, your safety, and your emotional well-being?
Well, recently, this has been me.
I’ve recently discovered what independence truly is, and all from a startling and empowering discovery. I woke up one day and realized suddenly – as if the blinders had just been lifted from my field of view – that there wasn’t anything waiting around the corner that would rescue me.
There was no ship waiting in the bay to rescue me from my island of pain. There wasn’t a man, a relationship, a friend, or a family member that could solve my problems. There wasn’t a job or an opportunity or even a piece of schoolwork that could lift me from the struggles I faced on this earth. No one was waiting to hand me what I “deserved” on a silver platter. Nobody would suddenly step forth, recognize my talents, and reward me for them.
A little voice spoke to me, and with absolute transparency shared with me the truth:
Only you can save yourself.
The Transformation Sparked by Traveling Solo in Europe
You see, I’ve recently experienced the most transformational year of my life. If you’ve been following my journey, you know that I’ve spent 6 months traveling solo in Europe, and another three months of the past year journeying around the United States, both solo and not.
Over this period of time, I’d inevitably encountered many self-transformational journeys as well. I’d argue that it may be impossible to avoid self growth when you’re spending so much time alone, seeing new cultures and new countries, and distracting yourself from your loneliness with books and writing – and by practicing the power of your thoughts to shape your mind and your world.
“It’s better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” – Bhagavad Gita
I managed to leave a career path, a relationship, and an entire life in search of one that felt more like mine, and in the process, I managed to (almost unconsciously) check off 10 out of 12 places to visit from a list I’d created for myself prior to my farewell launch. I managed to defy the universe and spark a relationship with the one who got away years ago, who’d I long deemed my “soul mate,” becoming close to him, building one of those indescribably meaningful friendships, and learning many lessons that I will carry with me forever.
But it wasn’t until all of the travel had come and gone that I finally accepted the words that were running through my mind, this time disentangled from all of the hopes I’d always attached to their near-silent, suspicious existence: All you have is you.
Freedom in Self-Accountability
I recently watched my favourite author, Elizabeth Gilbert – whom I actually got the opportunity to meet at one point – on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. You probably know her from her crazed success “Eat, Pray, Love,” and you’ve certainly praised Julia Robert’s performance in the movie. But if you’ve actually taken the time and effort to read her incredible memoir, you’re surely a fan on a very different level. This is book that changed my life – and apparently millions of other people’s lives as well.
I found myself nodding and audibly agreeing with her during the discussion of the freedom she’s found in self-accountability. Though it almost seems like a saddened, lonely, and desperate realization that “all you have is you,” it’s actually quite the opposite. Since there’s no greater form of weakness than that found in waiting – waiting for the perfect man, the perfect job, the perfect set of circumstances etc. – there’s no greater form of strength than that found in self-accountability.
Suddenly you realize that you’re the captain of your own ship, guiding your life based on your own decisions, emotions, and opinions. Having taken a new view on this completely, you’ll likely realize that – since you are the captain of you – your only true responsibility in life is you. What happens outside of your own skin is not your responsibility – what happens inside your skin is.
Therefore we all must realize that our own interpretation of the chaos around us is within our control, as is our emotional response to them.
And with that in mind, taking complete responsibility for ourselves has never been more freeing or liberating. There’s no need to hold onto self-loathing for the mistakes of your past, nor is it acceptable to take the stance that you can’t make a difference.
Be the captain of your own soul, shed your delusions that place the power of your life in anyone’s hands but your own, and opt to bring your light and love into every encounter you have – here on planet earth.
Let’s all be the captain of our own ship, k?
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Watch Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah here.