“I started finding myself when I accepted that I didn’t know myself, and that is OK”
You have to “start” 2022 with cryptic yet quasi-inspirational messages. And it is excellent context on how I aim to lead my life in 2022 and beyond.
In 2021, I started some introspection. I worked with a therapist who asked me simple questions that I found challenging. Through the process, I identified my boundaries, my drive, and my personal aspiration of “becoming the person with the most positive impact on the Black Community in Europe.” I thought that with a clear goal, I will do what I do best: Reach for it. To my surprise, the opposite happened. Questions and contradictions came again and again. Here are the top 3:
- Make more money vs being content with what we have. I want to grow the number of Black Millionaires. I see it as a path for the community to be less discriminated against. However, I want(ed) to cap my wealth at $1.5M. At this level, my family and I can comfortably, forever. But why limit my wealth level? My wealth contributes to the wealth, influence and power of the community. But I despise chasing money. When I do it becomes my master.
- A seat at the table or building your table. Instead of asking for a seat at the table, I want the community to create its table, chair, house, etc… you get the picture. Yet, I work in corporate and aim to get a more prominent seat at the table. Why don’t I drop it all and build that table full-time? I have the skills, the passion, and I can do everything I put my mind to.
- Retire early or keep working for “fun”. I believe in F.I.R.E – Financial Independence & Retire Early – yet I love my workplace because of the fascinating people I can engage with daily. The closer I get to becoming financially independent, the more I realize that I do not value it as much as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, knowing that my family and I will be fine regardless of what may happen is pure luxury. However, thinking that I could quit at any time begs the question of what would I do next? And will it be more fulfilling than engaging with talented and passionate teammates?
What should I do with the contradictions? Should I retire early or work for fun? Should I aim to increase my wealth or be content with my situation? I would have made a snap decision based on “logic” in the past. And that would have been it. I would have been satisfied with an answer to such questions. One thing down, time to go and achieve something else. Check. The flaw in this thinking is the perception that something (or someone) can be right or wrong. Let’s explore more the impact of judging.
- Judging is typically final. What is the benefit of deciding that anything is definitive? Nothing in life is absolute, not even death – in many religions. So why would I judge anything and stop learning about it? Why would I stop discovering topics core to who I am or who I want to be? Why not keep exploring and find more about myself, others, and the world? Why would I lock myself forever in a belief system if I do not have to?
- Judging implies that one person is better than another. Firstly, how do you define good or better? It does not mean much and is challenging to quantify/assess. Someone can have more knowledge about a topic than someone else or run faster a 100m dash. But that hardly makes them “better”. The words good, better, best is a shortcut to express yourself. And it may work when others have the same worldview as you. But, what is the point of only talking to someone who thinks exactly like you? Where is the growth?
This is why “everything just is” for me at the moment. I accept myself even when I do not know myself. I appreciate that I was wasting energy getting upset when something “wrong” happened. That is all I used to do. I got mad. Then I would call a friend who would help me get madder and tell me I was right to be angry, and so on. I am wasting all that time on playing the victim instead of figuring out how to get the best outcome from this situation.
Now I prefer to approach everything as not “right” or “wrong” but rather as “situations”. My life became a little bit like American war movies. The army never says, “We have a huge problem. The enemy has breached our perimeter”. Instead, they say, “we have a situation to address”. A small nuance with a big impact. With a problem, you want to know more about what happened. With a situation, you focus on what will help you move towards your goals.
A tip that helped me move past judgments is understanding the meaning of discernment. One can judge in a fraction of seconds. Discerning implies an investigative process. A willingness to look for facts to create an informed point of view. That point of view helps you engage with others who may have a different one. And through exchanging with people with an original point of view, there is growth.
In summary, and in less cryptic. In 2022 I aim to elevate. I desire to feel while remaining unfazed by situations. I will lead with love and empathy. I will continue my self-discovery journey and appreciate who I am and others on their journey.