Well, I did it. I got published on Green and Gold Rugby, started an internship, started volunteering at a radio station, and finished my writing degree. I succeeded in the challenge I set myself this year. Woo! I did it.
But, I have to get something off my chest. For the last few weeks, especially since I completed my final university studies, I have been feeling uneasy in myself: a somewhat perpetual state of nervousness. It is a state whose origins I was unsure of. It’s a weird feeling, so much so that it compelled me to sit down and write this.
Initially, I thought these worries were to do with the panic of finishing university and not being in the ‘semester-to-semester’ grind. But then again, I had been looking forward to this all year. To be out of that educational cycle that I had been involved in for nearly twenty years of my life; and going into something that may become my working career: the “aim” of my life. It feels like a blank canvas and that difference certainly is scary to get used to.
Am I doing enough to get that dream career? Will the job I get be as good as life gets? Will that be my life now? That’s scary. But, I’m more excited than nervous. It’s a chance to reset: I can find a job, do what I have done in the past, and travel; or try something new. It’s a chance to be whatever you put your mind to. I know life goes on, and you can mould yourself into anything you want to be. It’s scary, but its an opportunity. So the more I wondered, the more I realised that was not the problem.
I asked myself another question: do I wonder if I will be enough? I mean, I do want to be more. I work two jobs, work an internship, volunteer at a radio station, run a website… I do a lot! And I know that nothing comes without determination and hard work. I know I’m doing something right, and considering I’ve only been out of university a month, it would be unrealistic (especially these days) to think that you got your dream job immediately. These steps I’m taking now are the first baby steps in my career. That didn’t real right as the problem for these nerves either.
So, is it a self-value problem? I have in the past wondered if I was a weirdo, a freak, a guy who didn’t know what the hell he was on about. I myself have made plenty of mistakes, have hurt people, have done a lot. And I beat myself up constantly about whether I’ve hurt people. I am a habitual overthinker, looking for something wrong and assuming I’ve hurt someone when that someone has forgiven me a long time ago. But then again, university has brought out the best changes. Over the course of uni, I’ve found out what I want to do with my life. I know that being positive is part of who I am. I can’t help it. If anything, I can’t control it. It is a good place to arrive at: knowing who you are, and what you believe in.
But then, I realised. I knew what the problem was. It had been something that I had been afraid of talking about for most of my life: The fear of acceptance. The fear of presenting who you really are to the world. Now, it seemed somewhat timely to be worrying about it. End of university. Going out and meeting new people. That whole jazz. So often, we are quick to build walls and present ourselves in ways that are not true to ourselves. Why we do that, I don’t know. Is it growing up? The burden of responsibility? The pressure that you have got to be an adult now? I myself have put on this face. I do it all the time. I can be loud. Really loud. Really happy. That’s what I’m known for being, but is it totally me? Is that the lens by which I am judged? I stopped and thought about it. Is it my knee-jerk reaction to be like that, to show present yourself in a way you think people want to see you?
I will be honest though. I am loud. I enjoy going out and being overly happy because being overly happy is a much better way to live than to live as a pessimist. I am a positive person by nature. It is part of who I am. But my girlfriend said to me that she knows that “loud, in your face, constantly happy Nick is different from the Nick I know.” In short, I am human. I ain’t perfect. I know that loud persona I have has rubbed people up the wrong way in the past. Some people find it genuinely annoying. Some people may see that as fake. You can’t win with everyone.
I know that there are people out there who view me as silly. I get that. I know. There always will be people who will find you or judge you. It’s impossible not to get on with everyone. But I know that we all do it. Put on masks. Present ourselves to the world in certain ways. Put up with people we don’t like. We do it so much that we may even forget that it is only a mask; and we use it to hide it from the troubles we have. We work our arses off, meet people we do (and don’t) like and pretend everything is okay; yet we also have moments when we sit at home and wonder what our life is going to be about. I have those days. How can you break down those barriers? How do stop putting on that mask?
It was then I discovered this amazing speech by Jim Carrey (there is a highlighted version that’s about eight minutes on YouTube, but I prefer this original version: this speech is a real life changer and will definitely put a smile on your dial). In this video Carrey talks to the graduating class of 2014 at the Maharishi University of Management. It was this speech that spoke to me about that problem of showing your real self:
Near the end of this speech, Carrey talks about this mask, and that “our need for acceptance can make us invisible in this world.” But to truly earn inner peace and happiness in yourself, you have to find a piece of yourself that lies beyond personality, the perception of others, and even beyond effort itself. To find that inner peace and tranquillity in yourself, you need to “let the armour go” and, as quoted by Carrey, “risk being seen in all of your glory.”
Carrey describes this inner piece of yourself as “the light that shines through you.” It was a moment that hit me, and made me start to wonder about the ‘façade’ that we all put on. Being loud and exciting can be great in some contexts, and it is a part of me. But is that all me? Being honest and showing yourself for who you are is hard. Really hard. At the end of the day; what we achieve in our lives is meaningless. At the end of it all, friends may come and go, and success and come and go, but when we are gone all that will be remembered was what was in our heart, and how we lived our lives with others.
I used to think, within my own context, that I was part of something greater: a world bigger than myself, and that it was up to me to make an impact in that world. To change minds. To be a successful writer. To be published, and make something bigger than myself. To me, that was my dream, my sense of completion as a person. Only now, it took someone smarter than myself to make me realise that there is nothing bigger than myself.
We aren’t just people. We all have a ‘light’ in us too, a soul, whatever. And people, like most creatures, are drawn to that ‘light’ because it is beyond the masks we put on. It is real. And to show that light, we have to let the armour go and open ourselves up, and not be afraid of doing so. If you show that light, more often than not the world and people around you will embrace you for it. That is of course, if you are willing to do that.
Carrey says “I’m always at the beginning. I have a reset button, and I ride that button constantly. Once that button is functioning in your life, there is nothing that the mind can create than can be more compelling.” But it was his final goal that really struck a chord with me: that you should “set yourself a goal and work towards it, without worrying about how it comes to pass.” That said so much to me. Just enjoy the ride, and the people. These days we seem so much more serious about life, and we forget the point of life: to have fun, and be happy. That relaxed state of reset, enjoyment and being honest to yourself seems key to me in dreaming up a good life.
Not that it is something I get straight away. I still struggle, and have my bad days. But this last month, since learning that you need to let the armour go, I have felt lighter and happier in myself. I have felt like, similar to Carrey, I have reset myself. But that’s okay. It’s good. It’s what we should do to grow as people.
So, do I have a plan for next year? Yes and no. Do I know what I want to do? Yes, but it will come when it comes. Will I still do what I always do? Who knows. And being more myself certainly won’t stop me being loud and cheerful once in a while; that’s me too, and too me! All I know is that being honest in yourself and not being afraid to let your light shine through you is one of the most valuable lessons you will ever learn. With it, it brings you a path to inner peace, completion in your soul, and a sense of enlightenment in your heart.
Thanks for reading this. If it has in some way made things clearer for you, then I hope it has provided you with some enlightenment too. Have a happy Boxing Day and a safe holiday, have fun, and above all: be yourself!
See you in 2017.