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Who Would You Be?

The great baseball pitcher Satchel Paige once mused, “How old would you be if you didn‘t know how old you are?”

But I have a variation on that question: Who would you be if you didn’t know who you are? Imagine you wake up with amnesia, and the only knowledge you have of yourself are the qualities that resonate at your deepest level. For example, you know you love elephants. Or you know you write songs. Or you know you enjoy traveling. Or you know you have a keen fashion sense. If you adopted the persona of someone who embodies those qualities, what would you be? Who would you be? (It doesn't matter that those descriptors quite possibly bear little resemblance to your current life).

Now put yourself in the mindset of that person — not of the one others have foisted upon you. Think of yourself as the songwriter or the clothes designer or the elephant rescuer or the explorer. That’s who you are, along with everything else.

It’s both the easiest and the most difficult thing you can do: easy, because it’s as natural to you as breathing; difficult because you may have learned from a very early age that you must conform to the world, not to yourself.

Treasure and guard those pieces of yourself that make you you. They are more precious than gold, silver, rubies and diamonds combined. Be fierce in how you protect them. Nurture them and give them space to grow. Polish them, bring them out into the light. Never hide them away or shove them in a drawer because someone else claims they have no value. Don’t let anyone tell you your innate talents and skills — the qualities that make you who you are — are worthless. Those elements of your authentic self are the gifts the Universe bestowed upon you with the intent that you share them with others. Don’t hide them away. Give them the love, honor and admiration they deserve.

At your very essence, you are exactly who — and what — you were meant to be.

Writing exercise/prompt: At the top of a piece of paper or a page in your journal write the phrase “I've always wanted to ...” A little farther down write the phrase “I've always loved ...” And a bit farther down still write the phrase “I’ve always been good at ...” Then complete each sentence three times. For example, “I’ve always wanted to play the piano.” Or, “I’ve always wanted to see wild animals in Africa.” Or, “I've always loved cooking for people.” Or, “I’ve always been good at organizing big projects.” Look deeply into yourself — you want to reach the truth of who you are, not who you think you are supposed to be or not be. And don’t worry about how outlandish or audacious you might sound. This is not the time to make yourself small.

When you have completed your sentences, read them out loud. Notice how you they resonate within you. Notice the exhilaration you feel as you connect with your authentic self.

Hold onto that feeling, and when you’re ready, think about the steps you can take, no matter how small, to live that authenticity more fully.

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