Utilizing our divine rod to figure out who we are and what we want
How do we know who we are and what we want? We don’t until we discover ourselves.
Rather than the magic “aha”-moment, it’s a gradual process of learning what we are good at and what we suck at doing.
But we don’t start there. When we are born, we are helpless; we start imitating others, learning how to walk and act under the rules and norms of our surroundings.
We basically start learning how to function in society. We seek for attention and validation and neglect our independent thoughts and values. Mark Manson calls this stage mimicry.
At some point, most people develop their ability to act upon and for their own good.
Instead of continuing to please everyone else, they look at themselves for happiness. This is the time when self-discovery starts.
The Divine Rod
When we try out new things — studying something, dancing like a maniac, living somewhere else, or reading about a new topic — we learn, and we grow.
We find out about the things that we didn’t know existed.
I am convinced that everyone starting the self-discovery journey, possesses their own divine rod. Deep inside us, we know who we are and what we want, but for the rod to lash out, we have to feed it and test it.
We have to walk stony roads, climb rocky mountains, and dive into unknown waters. This is where the beauty lies, and the rod tells us what’s right for us. It is a process of trial and error.
On the journey, we will learn where our boundaries are, which is good and healthy. But we will be also likely to see what we suck at, which is even more critical.
Being pushed by my parents to take on a challenging work and study program at a big utility company in Germany after graduation, I had to cope and started learning quickly. At first, I was angry at my parents; in retrospect, nothing could help me discover myself better.
Keep in mind that:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
— Mark Twain
My experiences made me start to accept the fact that 9 to 5 in big corporations wasn’t for me. I disliked the politics inherent in large hierarchical structures and the fact you had to wear an ironed shirt all the time. (I do not enjoy ironing). Based on this learning, I later chose smaller places with a flat hierarchy that matched my needs better.
Letting my new friends in Hamburg drag me to Techno music open airs in the outer parts of the city, I learned to love the electronic music and the atmosphere on such get-to-gethers. When I chose to party now, it’s just for dancing to deep and melodic electronic sounds, not for numbing myself with fancy drinks and to “see and be seen” at some fancy location.
Working as an intern in the marketing department at Coca-Cola before, I figured that the mission of selling as much sugar water as possible did not speak to me. It started the quest of figuring out what my purpose is. While I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of it, I feel more fullfilled coaching and giving advice. Sometimes I overdo it though, giving advice where none is appreciated.
It’s safe to say I enjoy the beauty of the process. Being 26 now, I still haven’t figured out everything, but compared my 19-year-old self, that started that work and study program in Hamburg, I have come a long way.
Realizing I have to keep feeding the divine rod, I am now testing waters in entrepreneurial endeavors. Worst case scenario: I will burn through all my savings and move back in with my parents. On the bright side, I will have learned a lot about myself — maybe even that entrepreneurship isn’t for me. (Thank you and shout out to all parents who made it possible for their child never to have to live on the streets.)
Once you realize this concept, you will embrace the struggle and enjoy the process.
When do we stop discovering ourselves?
As Mark Manson points out, in the process of self-discovery, we also learn that time is limited, and we cannot do it all. We start spending our time and money more wisely and invest it in projects and people that we found matter to us. We become more reliant on ourselves for happiness and not on the validation of others.
This is the time when we start to transition into phase three of life — commitment. This consists of a handful of relationships and a handful of endeavors that have proven worthwhile.
I can not tell you what the commitment phase looks like, though, because I haven’t been there.
Enjoying the beauty of self-discovery is what is pushing me to try more, travel more, read more, practice more, and write more.
Once the time comes and the divine rod lashes out, I will know what I want to commit myself to and then go hard at it.