A Look in the Mirror: How to Find Yourself
I found myself looking out on the ocean in complete abysmal darkness. The sea and the sky melted together beyond sight, but the stars stuck like diamonds across the backdrop. While I was staring admiringly into the void, I started contemplating who I was and why I was there at that exact point in my life. You see, I was about two thousand miles away from home, currently in the Navy, and feeling alone in a desolate landscape. I had been doing a lot of soul-searching, but at the time I was reflecting on the wrong things trying to gauge my life and I was driven by counterproductive motivations. Had I known that, the events that unfolded over the next few years would have played out differently. It was a long road, but I am thankful for every second because experience has taught me numerous things.
At the time I was trying to surround myself with affection. Unknowingly, I had built my life completely dependent on other people’s affection and care and was now going through withdraws. Now I was looking for affection in all the wrong places. Drunken one-night stands and over-developed short-term relationships kept my world in such an upheival that I couldn’t tell day from night, let alone evaluate where I was going. On top of that, putting myself in those situations made me lose focus and I started creating obstacles.
In understanding the future, you must always look at the past to investigate your trials, how you conquered them, and how to overcome current and future situations. If you are unwilling to honestly look at yourself with an open heart, you will never be able to evolve as a person. It’s frightening, but everything has to surface to be able to purify yourself.
In my case, I learned several things. One was, as previously mentioned, that I needed to learn to deal with affection. Probably the greatest thing I took out of this was how to love myself. I had absolutely no love for myself when I started. I never realized it because I had never taken an introspective look at into my own mind. My family issues as a child and my own poor integrity had left me feeling hollow and insignificant. Once I learned to love myself, it not only provided a fundamental source of affection but it also turned the quality of my life completely around.
The second thing I learned was that I had my priorities out of order. In trying to seize the day, I lost the years. Honestly, this is still something I struggle with, although on a smaller scale. I get so wrapped up in ideas that I go on a binge of hobbies, spending, collecting, building, etc. I’m getting better day by day, but what really is key to this is focus and setting your priorities at the beginning of each day. Now when I get to work, I look at what I need to do, I do it first, and then everything else after. The same goes for at home. When I come home I help watch the kids, make dinner/clean dishes, put the kids to bed, spend time with my wife, then I turn to my personal things. Learning to think about others first is paramount. I’m not just doing my job to get paid anymore, I’m trying to provide quality work for my company so that they can grow and prosper, which in turn will benefit me. At home, I’m doing all these things to be a good husband and father. This has improved my relationship with my wife greatly.
Also, I learned to ask the most important question of myself; why. Why am I doing this? Why don’t I just take my money and run off? Why don’t I do what I want regardless of other people’s feelings? The answer, in all cases, is that the universe is much bigger than me. While it is utterly important to have a sense of self-worth and confidence it is even more important to live with humility and with a profound respect for life. Every second that I spend selfishly on myself is a second that I am taking away from someone else. It’s easy to lose track of this insight and think the world revolves around you. When I’m driving to work I find it incredibly hard, especially when someone is driving slowly, or cutting in front of me.
The best advice I can give is to treat every being as if they were an extension of yourself. In fact, they are. We are all sub-atomically exactly the same as everything in the universe. Those subatomic particles may be arranged in different orders, but you are no different from the ground you are standing on. With that in mind, you can learn to be more understanding of people and events that take place in your life. Furthermore, you can do more than just understand, you can take an active role in bettering people’s lives. I don’t pretend to know all the answers in the universe, but I know one thing. If I die without having contributed to the health and happiness of the people around me, then I have failed as a human being.
If you can, take a long hard look in the mirror today. Examine what faults and strengths make you who you are. Embrace that. We are all imperfect. It’s learning to love those imperfections, with the understanding that we have the ability to change that makes a difference. Once you’ve learned to love yourself, then start spreading the love to other people. A person without love in their heart is like a candle without a flame. Some unfortunate people see caring for others as a weakness, but it is the courage to do so in the face of scrutiny that distinguishes real righteousness.