by Liz Jansen
If you could divest yourself of social constraints, expectations, and cultural conformity, who are you when you look in the mirror? Who is that wild you? What does she or he want? What are their dreams?
Four years ago this weekend, I set out on my motorcycle seeking the answer to that question. At age sixty, I was on a quest to understand who I was before my culture told me who I was.
I’d expected to be on the road for twelve to eighteen months, traveling the Americas. Barely three weeks later, my crash in rural Alberta changed my plans. The external journey got put on hold, but the internal journey continued apace. It wasn’t until two years later that I resumed the motorcycle trip, and even then, it had an entirely different trajectory. Looking back, I needed that time off the motorcycle to get to my destination.
We tend to define ourselves by familial, professional, and social roles. In addition to being a friend, daughter, sister, and aunt, I’m a healer, writer, author, and motorcyclist. Yet none of those define me. They aren’t who I am. They’re what I do. I need to put something on my LinkedIn profile and business cards.
As soon as you hang a title around your neck, it limits you. None of us fit in a box. We hold a perception of what titles or possessions mean, and the expectations around those who hold them. What happens when you lose that role? For ten months I couldn’t ride a motorcycle but that didn’t change the core of who I am.
I love that I can express myself through written and spoken words and on my motorcycle. That, I believe, was the message of the stranger in the parking lot I wrote about recently. (Read Opening a Message in a Bottle — Or Parking Lot.)
Knowing the answer to who I am, under all the layers, is important to me. Each of us brings unique gifts into the world to be shared for the highest good of all. In order to be fully present in life, I need to let that wild, untamed nature have expression. She’s a force to be reckoned with!
While my quest helped me understand who I am, allowing myself freedom to shine takes courage and is a life-long lesson.
How do you define yourself? Tell us in the comments.