(This is the second of a two-part post, the first of which could be found here.)
In 2004, I decided to try to live on my own. There is nothing wrong with living on your own – my mistake was that I allowed the situation to further isolate myself from my family and friends. This accentuated the fragmentation my life was already experiencing. The circles in my life were separated even more profoundly. Who I was in my condo, at home with my parents, with different sets of friends, at work, in graduate school – all were different people.
Leading this sort of life meant having virtually no rules for myself. I was willing to try anything or be anyone to fulfill the expectations of whatever group I was in.
Not knowing who I exactly was, I stood for nothing. And as a friend once said, if you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything.
So with bad decision after bad decision, I spiraled.
I had a good paying job, my own place, my own car, and whatever niceties I was able to afford. But I didn’t really know who I was, work was meaningless, I was doing things people who loved me would not approve of, and I felt really alone. Yes, a lot of people knew me from my different circles, but no one really knew me. In retrospect, I didn’t even think there was any reason to change. I thought that was how life really was.
Things started to change when I attended this retreat where I found God. I had attended dozens of retreats before, so I wasn’t expecting lasting change in this one, but this was different.
In a moment of spectacular clarity, I asked myself, if I truly believed in God, if I loved him – then what was I doing with myself? Why was I so intent on pleasing these other people? On doing “cool” stuff?
If I believed in God, and if I loved Him – then shouldn’t everything revolve around following Him? And if I believed that God created me for a specific reason, and He has the absolute best intentions for me, then shouldn’t I stop pretending to know what’s best for me and instead just listen? (something very challenging for my very independent self)
Oh, and is there any sense in stalling?
I then went on with my life with renewed vigor – I started discerning instead of deciding. Reclaiming my life was going to be difficult, but I had found my needed Anchor. In finding God, I had found myself. (And you know what, I think it’s the absolute quickest way to do so.) I suddenly knew who I was and very importantly, who I wasn’t.
One by one, my horcruxes disappeared. It wasn’t something instant or even something I was consciously aware of. It was a long process. But one day, I suddenly found myself thinking: hey, you know what – there’s little need for me to pretend anymore! Suddenly I realized, who I was at home was the same person I was with my friends. There was no tension felt when my worlds collided. I could do stuff like share my faith freely at work (or write about it in my entrepreneur-centric blog) or in meetings.
It was liberating. Wherever I was, I was me.
I realize that I also have to fight the tendency to create silos and fragments. I do my best to talk to my wife about everything, even with the powerful man-tendency to solve problems on my own. I just don’t want to create other universes which she isn’t part of the equation. (I think this is where a lot of problems begin) At the same time, I can freely share with my STORM partner Pao the things at home which might affect stuff at work. I share with people in my spiritual community how I am with everything. That’s a lot of sharing for someone who’s intrinsically very, very private, but holding myself accountable to people I love and respect helps a lot in ensuring I live one, integrated life.