I've spent a lot of time, since becoming a hermit, getting to know who I really am, letting go of the perfectionistic fantasies of who I could be if I just tried harder, and embracing the reality of myself with all my inborn weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Separating Fantasy Me from Real Me has been a thread through this whole blog. Coming to accept myself as I am has involved grieving the loss of who I wish I were.
Now I am in a new phase of the journey, beginning to explore Ideal Me. What's the difference between Fantasy and Ideal?
Fantasy Me is built out of ideas that come from outside of myself. Images of an iconic, mythical, holy hermit; a mash-up of all the things other people have seemed to want me to be, gathered together over the last 55 years; an angry or desperate denial of the parts of me that I wish weren't there. Fantasy Me is the mask I have used to try to hide my weaknesses from the world; but I've ended up hiding myself from myself.
Ideal Me is built on the foundation of Real Me, out of all my own individual strengths, weaknesses, passions, values, and possibilities. Real Me is at a halfway point: I've learned a lot about who and how I am today, and a lot about why. But I have still a ways to go to get to know who I might become in the future. Who do I even want to be? What are the things about myself that I love? What are my gifts, my talents? What do I love to do, and to think about? What do I care about the most? How do I want to live? What conditions do I need to thrive? What energizes me, and what saps my energy? What do other people see in me, that I can't see in myself?
How have I shrunk over the years, because my weaknesses (unacknowledged, misunderstood, unsupported) undermined my strengths? What did I think, when I was a child, that I would love to spend my life doing? And where did those dreams get derailed? Are some of them still shiny dreams, that I regret abandoning? And are there valuable clues still in the old Fantasy Me, clues to what I value and admire?
There is a whole new learning process to go through, to rediscover who I might be if I believed in myself, if I'm willing to try and fail, to learn new things. Including learning how to support and cushion my vulnerabilities, so that they don't hold me back from becoming more. Learning to believe in myself has to start with a leap of faith. It takes understanding that growth is gradual, that it takes more than a mindset shift, it takes stretching and strengthening parts of me that had been disused and disconnected. It takes trial and error. And it starts with a clear vision of the goal, a vision of Ideal Me.
+++ PEACE +++