There’s a strange thing that happens as you get older. Your mind has a way of clinging to the past, a vision of yourself that’s out of date. A collage forms in the back of your mind: you in junior high, you when you got your first job, you when you got married, you climbing the career ladder. Your mind does a decent job of keeping pace as you grow up, yet sometimes you find yourself feeling out of sorts and catch yourself wondering who you really are, today.
For many of us, something happens unexpectedly that gives us a peek at our current selves: a reflection off the shop window’s glass, a comment made casually by a colleague about your skill or presence. In these moments you see yourself as others see you, outside of your internal collage. How shocking it can be, seeing someone who’s well dressed, an accomplished person making their way in the world, a compassionate soul caring for those around them, a person off on an adventure tasting the gorgeous moments of life. The shock comes when the person reflected back doesn’t match your mental collage. Who was that amazing person you just caught a glimpse of? Holy cow, it was you!
I heard an interview with Isabella Rossellini where she talked about this. She was walking through a store and caught a glimpse of an elegant woman out of the corner of her eye. She turned to admire her and found herself looking in a mirror. That’s when she saw herself as she really was: a beautiful, successful, elegant woman. If not knowing who you are can happen to Isabella Rossellini, it can happen to any of us.
There’s an art to staying current with yourself. It takes a conscious decision not to live out of the past and to take the past for what it truly is: the proving grounds for who you are today. Catching up with yourself can happen in an instant, such as it did for Isabella Rossellini, or it can emerge slowing over weeks or months. You can consciously cultivate a current picture of yourself by training your eye to watch for clues to the current you and assemble a new collage. Give yourself space: take a long drive with no radio and minimal conversation, and plenty of time to stare out the window; walk along your favorite open landscape such as the beach, forest, or promenade; look at your reflection in the elevator doors and see yourself, beyond your outfit, your flaws, or your next deadline.
Living current with yourself takes courage. You have stay vigilant about what’s true about you, today. Thank the past for its wisdom and shaping of you, and boldly step into who you are today. That elegant, accomplished, adventurous person is waiting for you to join them.