In a recent interview, I was given the delightful challenge of sharing one of the most important, most defining moments in my life. I was then asked to share how that experience informed my personal philosophies, habits, and practices in my life. I also chose to express how what I was sharing from my own experience could help you, even if your journey through life has been very different from mine. And 15-minutes was the maximum time frame I had in which to share all this.
I chose to share about being of both black and white parentage. I chose to share about being adopted. I chose to share about searching for my biological parents when I was 19 years old, and finding them happily married (with a daughter, my full biological younger sister). I chose to share about being born in the US, but raised in Canada as a dual citizen of both countries.
In other words, I chose to share about how my life has been shaped by having an identity that falls outside the conventional boxes of family belonging, racial belonging, and national belonging. I chose to share about how these intersecting circumstances compelled me into a protracted and necessary search for who I truly was. And just as much, they compelled me into a process of proactively creating who I truly was.
It’s been my unique social positioning that has facilitated my becoming such a passionate proponent for cultivating “personal authenticity,” for knowing who you are beyond what’s expected and what’s taught to you. I am for plumbing the depths of our souls and excavating “the content of our character” if we wish to uncover the truth of who we are. That will yield a far richer inquiry than the mere mining of our “identities” or exploring our various categories of belonging. I am for every one of us being inner led. We must aim our life’s steering wheel toward wherever the needle is pointing on the powerful compass we all have installed within ourselves.
I am for every one of us questioning the voices of culture and society, and reading between the lines of the many sources of indoctrination we are all subjected to in the world around us. For when that unique set of riches each of us has embedded in our souls lines up with how we are living our life (and who we are living our life as), it launches us into that exhilarating state we call “thriving.” Thriving is extreme well-being attended by a delicious feeling of fulfillment and a sense of freedom that can only be found within ourselves.
The two powerful questions I was asked for this interview compelled me to think more deeply about how my message of “living authentically” was born out of my essence as someone positioned to have to learn to live authentically. Being asked these two questions helped me see more clearly how my personal experience with thorny matters of race, culture, nation, and adoption meant that certain social “realities” were always highlighted for me. More specifically, it was always apparent to me the degree to which the “realities” many people take for granted (even die or kill for, in extreme situations) are actually not real. They are simply vantage points, ways of seeing, among a spectrum of other ways of seeing.
When we are aware of the fluidity as opposed to the fixity of the reality of our lives, there is instantly so much more choice available for all of us in the matter of how we might wish to show up in the world. There is suddenly infinite possibility in the matter of becoming who we wish to be. There is suddenly infinite possibility in the matter of becoming so much more than who we are expected, or circumscribed, or predetermined to be. There are so many more options available to us, right in our very midst, than we tend to realize. So let’s let the exploration of our options begin!