In my weekly radio show “The Happiness Café” I ask listeners for their opinions on the topic of the show and yesterday was no exception. The topic permeating the show was “self-discovery” and the guest was an inspiring woman who is co-founder of La Akademia, an educational project aimed at 16 to 22yr youngsters and aimed at addressing their emotional education – free by the way! It seems to me that all too often education forgets to nurture the emotional well-being of our children and youth and we have many damaged adults as a result of these issues being forgotten or put aside.
So what are my thoughts and opinions on self-discovery? I loved the fact that yesterday’s guest told us how, when she was a child, her parents encouraged her to have an independence in everything she did and moving out of her comfort zone was something she thought all people did as that’s how her parents encouraged her to be. My first thought therefore is that on the journey towards self-discovery, we are going to be accompanied by those meant to show us things at some point in our lives, preferably when we are young and then periodically when we need it when we are older.
I was blessed to have grandparents and parents who also encouraged independence and I can see how that has shaped me become who I am. If I think back to childhood, I was very much left to my own devises a lot of the time and I remember a LOT of play always. Play on my own but most often play with siblings and friends, outdoors for hours on end – free play – paradise! And there was lots of reading, time to just sit and read and escape into my imagination. There was a structure in place, very much a feminine one placed there by my mother who was the main organiser of our day-to-day. That structure not only gave routine and comfort but it was about security in which I had time to be me.
From that safe starting point in life I have been able to continue my journey with highs and lows, successes and failures, gain and loss, adventure and home and throughout it with the belief that I was still learning and above all, becoming me. At times I needed to fuel up and in comes those moments that remind us we are learning especially the tough ones, in my case divorce 7 years ago. We are born naked in the sense that all the clothes we choose to wear throughout life are the colours and combinations we use in that moment. The clothes I was lucky to wear as a child were laid out for me, clean and comfortable thanks to my parents and family – they were love, respect, trust, peace, happiness, joy, wisdom to name a few. With those placed freely and wholly in my hands, I was able to grow and look for more outfits – university, employment, marriage, children, cultures, communities – and these were the reminders of my choices and where I was going on my map.
Now, I am older, still learning, still on the journey to self and the differences are that I lay my own clothes out every morning – gratitude, faith, trust, contentment, openess – and at the end of my day I look back and see how far I came.
Self-discovery – on-going, accompanied, alone, pain and gain, easy and fun but the map continues to open sending me in directions that are already printed but just hiding under the flap, waiting for me to peal it back.
Enjoy your journey folks – it’s not over even when you get there!
For more information on La Akademia in Mallorca, totally recommended if you have a young person in your life who is curious: