Jonathan Fields (an inspirational entrepreneur and speaker now in his late 40’s) says he would advise his 20-Something-Self to consider the following three questions:
1. Who am I?
2. What matters to me?
3. What are the things I can do well? or what things could I learn to do well?
Those are three GREAT questions at any age and stage of life. The first one takes me back to age 27.
I was away on a yoga retreat one weekend when I was 27. After two full days of meditation, asana, pranayama, walks in nature, we gathered on our floor cushions in the meditation hall our final evening together. The teacher instructed us to take out our pads of paper and pens and prepare to begin writing an answer to a very important question.
The room filled with the sound of rustling notebooks and shifting as everyone got ready to write. We sat, pencils poised, bated breath.
The teacher slowly paced back and forth with his hands clasped behind his back looking up at the ceiling deep in thought. The room was silent as we waited for the very important question. He stopped and looked out at all of us slowly.
“Who are you?” he asked. No one moved other than glancing at one another with confusion.
“Well? Go ahead! Write! Write the answer to this question. Who are you?” he urged us.
And so I began writing, “I am a wife… I am a mother of a baby boy…. I am an educational consultant…I am a writer.. I am a tender-hearted person living in a harsh world…”
He continued to pace back and forth giving us a few minutes to write and then he began walking through the group asking us to read out loud what we had written. He listened to the answers silently and then returned to his cushion at the front of the room.
After a few minutes of silence he said, “Most of you wrote about the roles you play and the things you do in your lives. But that is not who you are. You are not a role. You are not what you do. Go home and ask yourself this question again every morning… Who am I?” He then led us into our final group meditation for the weekend.
I left that retreat completely confused. It took me about 15 more years of turning that question over and over in my mind and heart to really understand what he was teaching us by asking that question.
If I could go back in time and meet my 27-Year-Old-Self after that retreat, I would tell her these three things:
1. Slow down and take time to do absolutely nothing for at least 10 minutes every day. It’s really good for you to just be.
2. Love and accept your body just the way it is today and every day from here. Don’t diet or try to look a certain way for someone else.
3. Don’t take everything so seriously. Life is funny. Find the amusement in everything.
I think that question “Who am I?” is like one of those koans – you know, those questions Zen masters ask their students that force you to just stop thinking after a while…. I’ve finally settled on the answer “I just am.”
What would YOU tell YOUR 27-year-old-self?
Please watch Jonathan’s Field’s video called What Would I Tell my 20-Something-Year-Old-Self?