I thought this little passage from my upcoming book, Hand on the Shoulder, might be important to consider in these times.
Defining oneself is a lifetime quest. “Who am I?” does not have one answer, but has a different, evolving answer each day as one learns and develops. Sometimes that evolution is slow, other times, rapid. The slowest are the times when we are drifting, visionless. The rapid are the times when we are exploring, turning every encounter into a learning experience. Ultimately, finding oneself requires deep relationships with others, talking, sharing, having substantive discussions, and learning together.
Every day brings new experiences, new exposures, each of which can be a turning point, depending on the kind of decisions we make at each intersection. Those decisions may seem unimportant at the time but might have profound impact on ourselves and the people around us. Each person makes thousands of decisions every day, most are small automatic choices. Choosing what socks to wear is unlikely to change a person’s life, but other decisions could put us on a significantly different path. Learning to tell the difference is an important skill.
We can learn to recognize decisions to accept or reject a new opportunity as important turning points, but other incidents may not be so clear. Meeting a stranger in an airport or a hotel, for instance. Random events open new doors, shedding new light on a person’s direction. Every new experience or encounter contains the possibility for growth and learning. Attitude is important. Do we recognize new encounters as opportunities or threats? Do we face them with fear or enthusiasm? A “possibilities” attitude leads to growth.