How do you know the person you're becoming, or how you'll "turn out"?
When I was 10 years old, my teacher asked each of us in class what we wanted to be when we grew up. My turn came around, and I stood up and told my teacher that I couldn't possibly decide between being an artist or an inventor.
I had two clear pictures in my head. The first was of me in a chaotic studio, canvases stacked against the walls, paint everywhere, sunshine bursting through the windows brightening paintings both finished and incomplete, and me, fully in flow with brush in hand.
The second was me in a white lab coat in a huge lab, racks of bubbling flasks and machines beeping and whirring as they busied themselves with complex tasks, as I poured myself into the purpose of making Something Brilliant.
I always knew...
That’s my earliest, distinct memory of how important creativity is to me. It's a value that’s been a constant in my life, and a fundamental piece of who I am, proven most painfully in those stretches of time where I completely forgot, ignored or mistreated it.
During those times when I lived without creativity, I found myself becoming someone I was never supposed to be. And if I hadn't come to my senses, or experienced the upheaval of crisis because of it, I'd be unrecognisable today.
I'm not a painter in a studio or an inventor in a lab, but creativity manifests itself daily. In the articles I write here and elsewhere. In my surreal sense of humour. In banter and laughter. In escaping into a novel. In writing a novel.
At ten years old I had no idea who I'd be today, and it's a safe bet ten year old you might be surprised at where you are now.
That ten year old version of you wouldn't know everything you've done, everything you have and everything you believe. They wouldn't know what you've achieved, how you've struggled and how you've grown.
Will you like who you'll become?
My point is this.
If things continue as they are, who will you become ten years from now?
If your trajectory is true, great. You're all set. But often, it's hard to know whether you're on the right track until you're so far down it that you see how lost you are.
If you're not watching, you might become someone you don't like.
Set goals and work towards them if that works for you, but while having a target can create motion, movement without meaning can also create irrelevancies that are easy to get lost in.
You become occupied with things that were never supposed to occupy you. You become scared about things that never used to scare you. And you become disconnected from the things that used to matter to you, way down deep.
The price is your confidence and your heart.
Things always change and priorities always evolve. That's necessary for growth and for shaping a good life. But how many things were part of your life 10 years ago that are completely absent today? What things did you love back then that don’t even cross your mind today? What parts of yourself have you neglected or ignored or become disconnected from?
Go after whatever you want, but remember that it's the texture and richness of your experience that shapes who you’re becoming, not the things you pursue.
I've known people become shells of themselves in pursuit of a goal. I've seen how people prioritise things that don't matter to them as they chase something they think they need. And I've worked with people who have become version of themselves they don't recognise or enjoy being.
The process of becoming the person you’ll be ten years from now, five years from now, even one year from now has already begun. Here are three ideas to help you become someone you like.
1. Connect to the things that matter
Your values are the things in yourself, in others or out there in the world that matter to you most. They're fundamental pieces of who you are, and they're a huge part of what makes you, you.
Connecting to these things gives you a centre, gives you purpose and gives you joy. Honoring your values directly contributes to a good, rich life.
2. Don't let fear diminish you
We seem to get more prone to fear as the years go by. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being called out or criticise, fear of be judged or rejected. So many fears.
If you give them your attention and do what they say, you'll find your life contracting and shrinking, and you'll become someone who's...diminished.
Don't let fear do that to you.
3. Need people
In love, in friendships, in our work and in our families, you will get hurt. And as you get hurt in life, you'll become more inclined to protect yourself so people can't do that again.
But it's through trying to protect ourselves from hurt that we become isolated, feel alone, feel like we're not seen, feel like we can only trust ourselves or feel like we need to do it all ourselves.
You shouldn't need people in order to feel complete (you already are), but needing people in order to be seen and experience real connection, is what gives colour and joy and laughter to life.
So, who are you becoming?
Given that you're already becoming the person you're going to be, your responsibility is clear.
To ensure your experience has the texture needed to help you become the kind of person you’d love to be.
Tell me in the comments, what kind of person are you becoming?