Looking back is the best way to identify your authentic self. As a child, most of us had the luxury of doing what we truly wanted to do during our free time. There were no economic demands on us or responsibility for others, so we could choose to do what brought us joy. For me, that was sports, writing, drawing and hanging out with friends. As I got older, I saw there were also relational aspects that were also part of my authentic self.
For as long as I can remember, I have been the guardian of secrets and the provider of solicited advice. Well, who is kidding who, there were times when I was also the provider of unsolicited advice. I always thought of it as more of a knack than part of me. I was just good at finding practical solutions to problems and I have always had the ability to mediate. This strength may have come from being in a family of seven children. But, whether in my family or a group of friends, I have often felt like a peace maker and a sounding board. I never found it odd that so many people sought my advice I remember having to endure some teasing in high school when we took our career aptitude tests and mine came back showing “priest” as number one. The good-natured teasing always ended with the same thought, but you really would make a great priest, Dar. Until I looked back, I had forgotten about this.
I have also been a good cheerleader, both literally (have the jacket to prove it) and figuratively. I just thought that is what you do, support and encourage. I realize now that it is also who I am. I want people to succeed, even at something I dream about achieving too. I can’t help myself. I have shared in many celebrations of victories of both people I know and ones I have never met. This is as natural to me as breathing.I want people to win, to reach their potential and to be rewarded and I will do anything I can to help.
I never saw either of these as part of my authentic self. But, it is obvious to me now that I was born this way (thank you, Lady Gaga). Because I am aware of this now, I know my pathway must include some form of counseling or coaching others because I know I would be happy doing it for free (technically, I have been doing for free) and isn’t that the litmus test for passion?
To those who know me, you might be thinking, well, duh. For me, I just haven’t identified either of these as a career skill. As a financial adviser, I did utilize these skills but they were always overshadowed by staying ahead of interest rates and stock market results. In the end, it was the return on investment they wanted from me more than personal development. That is why I outgrew the position.
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, said, “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
For those of us who didn’t know or trust at eighteen what we were meant to do and who did not pursue it relentlessly and are now lost, I think looking for your authentic self is connecting the dots. It is looking at past personal strengths, passions and experiences to connect to your divine purpose. And it is trusting to pursue it when we may think it is past the expiration date.
So, in this journey of personal discovery, I have learned that I am a happy, fun-loving, funny, artistic athlete wearing a black and white collar under a cheer-leading jacket. Wow…I can’t wait to find out more!
I pray that you are living each day in an authentic world filled with passion and purpose!