Last weekend, I took a few days off and went to the Conscious Life Workshop in Las Vegas. I’ve never really felt a need to go to Las Vegas – gambling has no appeal for me – but I’ve never managed to make it to one of Steve Pavlina‘s workshops and this time I was determined to go. Steve is a blogger I’ve followed for 7-8 years. It’s hard to put in a few words the influence he’s had on me, and to be frank, I am still digesting everything. I also wanted to meet people who, like me, like personal development.
“Personal development” sounds so dry, so this is a better statement of what it’s all about:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” –Socrates
As a kid, I was pretty unhappy, and it took me a long time that to realize how much I, myself, was contributing to that. I lived my life in fantasy books because I despaired that I could ever be happy in my own life, being me. I despaired of having friends, of having a boyfriend, and I didn’t think to care about jobs – I was too scared to think of the future. I thought about death and suicide all the time and yet knew I probably would never pull the trigger – I was far too much of a coward. And then I got to the point where I was so tired of it all, so tired of being sad and angry and so tired of thinking of death. The stories I told myself about why life was unfair and why I was worthless stopped mattering. When it came time to go to college, I decided to start over. No one would know who I was supposed to be – they would only know who I had become.
Changing yourself can be hard, and it can take time. It requires you to look inward (this is the examining part), yet not get so sucked within yourself that you fail to think of others. I wanted to be dead because I didn’t like who I was, and I couldn’t stand being this person I hated so much. So instead of suicide, I started working at being a person I would be friends with, a person I could perhaps even admire at one point. These are the things I changed:
–I changed my handwriting because I had to look at it every day, and I wanted it to be something beautiful. I designed a new “font” based off of my dad’s handwriting and practiced it until I could no longer remember how I originally wrote it.
–I changed myself from a severely introverted person whose worst fear was that someone would talk to me (to laugh at me) to someone who at least appears to be fairly extroverted. I learned that everyone has an interesting story and no has a monopoly on suffering.
–I learned to accept that some people, some men, might think I was beautiful, and it wasn’t to play a trick on me or make fun of me. Some might even want to date me. 🙂
–I learned that kindness is never, ever a weakness. Go along with a crowd is weak.
–New things are often fun and should not be feared. I did theater, public speaking, fencing, and even put together a (hopefully lost) exercise video.
–I practiced changing my thinking from a constantly pessimistic point of view, full of mistrust and fear, to an optimistic point of view, where people are basically good and the world is beautiful place.
I can say now that I do generally like myself. If I met me, I would be friends with me. 🙂 The next part is changing my life to have it reflect more of who I truly am.