Finding Myself Essay

Ekaterina rejects her Communist childhood, full of pressure to conform, and creates the life she always wanted. But first, she had to leave home to find it.

What can be a more amazing travel journey than life itself? Think about this question. It is important.

Each of us is born on this planet for a certain purpose. We all have a certain mission to realize in life.

The most important thing is to know: this is what you are supposed to do.

It can be anything: creating a family, becoming a banker or spending one’s whole life on the road. The most important thing is to know: this is what you are supposed to do.

Quite often, unfortunately, many of us do not have this feeling – the feeling of wholeness, the feeling of belonging, the feeling of happiness. Instead we perform, or procrastinate or try to conform to certain rules imposed on us by society, without stopping for a second and asking ourselves: am I content? Am I doing what I really want to do?

Realizing our full potential and finding our true self is the true travel journey of life.

Not long ago, when I was yet again changing countries of residence, a friend of mine told me a very important thing:

“Ekaterina,” he said, “I know why you are moving, but never forget that whatever your destination, you always take yourself with you. Finding yourself is your true destination.”

The Road Ahead

For more than ten years my life has been that of a traveler. Even though for the majority of these ten years I had an apartment and a steady job, I was still traveling. I was traveling in my mind, I was changing countries and I was always looking for a better place, a better world.

Being born in the Soviet Union, in my first years of life I had quite a simple image of what life should be: first you become a pioneer (the first grade on the scale of communism), then a ‘comsomol’ (the second grade on the scale of communism) and finally, if you are the best, you become a communist.

My gradation stopped at the first scale, along with that simple vision of reality as soon as the political regime changed.

However, what didn’t change was the belief that in order to succeed in society one has to perform, one has to ‘graduate’. The goal was no longer a final communist grade; it became something else, but it all came down to the same gradation system the majority of us are taught to achieve – almost from the day we are born.

You have to do this, you have to become that, you have to be better and work harder than others, and you have to be like everyone else. Because of these rules, slowly but surely we tend to take a road opposite to our true destination.

A Reflection

At some point in my life I achieved my ‘communist’ grade. I was leading a life many people would find ideal.

With a title of financial analyst and portfolio manager, living in the center of Amsterdam, speaking four languages and in possession of a membership in the most prestigious sport club of the city, I had everything one can wish for in life. But in reality I had nothing at all.

I was losing myself, I was simply performing, thinking that life is about having a prestigious job, a cool apartment and a nice salary. And only my terrible stomach pains and the crying during the night were clear indicators that the ‘ideal’ life I led was actually quite miserable.

I was losing myself, I was simply performing, thinking that life is about having a prestigious job, a cool apartment and a nice salary.

One day I decided to create my own gradation system, or to be more precise, the absence of any gradation system. I stopped performing.

First, I canceled my membership to the sport club. Second, I changed jobs, agreeing to a lower salary and a less prestigious title simply to allow myself to find my own journey. Third, I started to write.

Being in love with books all my life I always wanted to share stories, and regardless of whether I am an unpublished or published writer, writing for myself is something that gives me the best satisfaction of all.

Finally, I started to follow the signs – the signs of life, trying to see who am I, what I am doing in this life and why?

I asked myself: what do I really like to do?

Journey of Wonder

The discovery of signs led me to an important realization: Life is a journey of wonder.

If I stayed in my gradation niche I would probably never have discovered bio-dance as a perfect alternative to the gym, gentle respiration techniques to make me calm and Tarot reading as a perfect activity for spending time when I am on my own.

All this resulted in the fact that, yet again, I changed my country of residence. I moved from Amsterdam to Brussels, the city where I had gone to university and where I couldn’t stay after my studies due to my Russian citizenship at that time.

I came back to this city without a grade, with a Dutch passport and as a new person. I realized one of the most important lessons in life: whatever your nationality, profession, salary or the net amount your house costs, the only real thing in life is you.

All stories have the same line. A hero leaves his village for the discovery of the world.

His first obstacle comes when he is on the road: he has to choose his destination. His second obstacle is during the journey. He has to fight the enemies. And finally, he has the most important choice: does he continue the journey or go back to the village?

We are all heroes on the road. And the most important journey for all of us is to meet our true selves. Apart from external enemies, quite often the biggest villain lies within, and this villain in the majority of cases is our own ego. Finding our soul and realizing our true potential is where our village lies.

As Paolo Coelho once said: “Never give up on your dreams, – follow the signs.”

Ekaterina Petrovna’s current goal in life is to become a Porcupine. In the animal spirit world this animal represents rediscovery of wonder and trust in the Great spirit. She has a degree in interpreting and speaks 4 languages. In her spare time Ekaterina writes, reads Tarot cards, dances like crazy, laughs, and tries to make this world a better place to live.

Finding yourself vs. Creating yourself.

I often hear people say “Throughout childhood you spend most of your time trying to find yourself.” They say this is the reason that childhood is so hard, but to that I disagree. To me, the idea of finding yourself is synonymous with a having a destiny. I believe that you spend your life creating yourself and your future, it is not found, and you are not born with specific purpose. There is no short cuts in doing that because creating and molding the person you want to be takes hard work. Naturally you are born with a certain amount of personality and talent through genetics, but success is created after you are born, not before. The search for real self is fiction, your personality is not waiting to be stumbled upon one day. If the search for true self was reality, when it is finally found you would become static, without any real reason to be ambitious, because anything out of that comfort zone would be considered “Not being yourself.” Although having your own opinions are unique to the specific person, having a destiny is not real. Everyday you create yourself with thoughts, actions, and dreams. It is a life experiment to mold what you like and what you don’t like. The rest is up to the person, and the people who influence that person. The people that influence you play a extremely vital role in creating yourself. What is considered as finding yourself, is misconstrued with having society’s restrictions define you. The influence that society has on a person's spirit is stronger than anyone would like to admit, and even the broadest categorization of humans are made by our society. This is shown in the article from The New York Times "Race and Racial Identity Are Social Constructs.” The article states that:

Race is not biological. It is a social construct. There is no gene or cluster of genes common to all blacks or all whites. Were race “real” in the genetic sense, racial classifications for individuals would remain constant across boundaries. Yet, a person who could be categorized as black in the United States might be considered white in Brazil or colored in South Africa.

This proves the idea that society has created broad guidelines for people's lives. I believe that these constrictions make people afraid to overstep boundaries for fear of “not being yourself.”

The concept of creating yourself is driven by self perception, and believing that you can, or cannot achieve something with hard work, and not being naturally gifted. Will Smith, a extremely successful actor once said “I've always viewed myself as slightly above average in talent. And where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. You know, while the other guy's sleeping? I'm working.” Will smith sums up my thesis of creating yourself by implying that he was never given a particular special talent, but because he worked hard and believed in himself he created a legendary career. This correlates with creating yourself because he was not blessed with a destiny, and did not wait to find himself, instead he worked hard to make his average talent great. When you are old enough to think for yourself, you began to challenge all ideas. The drive to experiment with things is created, and you begin to judge what you do and don’t like. I believe that society constructs people's feelings of identity and belonging by years of watering down what is normal. Society holds a lot of power in some people's eyes. But no matter who you are, there are repercussions of the opinions of others. Some people choose to fit in and just be normal, because that is easier. Others choose to go down the road of resistance where you experiment with things and decide whether something is for you or is not. These societal pressures are shown in The Great Gatsby "His nostrils turned to me in an interesting way” (p.71).  I understand you're looking for a business negotiation." The juxtaposition of these two remarks was startling. Gatsby answered for me: "Oh, no," he exclaimed, " this isn't the man." "no?" Mr.Wolfshiem seemed disappointed. "This is just a friend. I told you we'd talk about that some other time." " I beg your pardon," said Mr. Wolfshiem, "I had a wrong man." This shows that Nick did not fold to society pressures to do something that he did not want to do. It is not that he didn’t take the opportunity because it wasn't his destiny, but because he had created his morals, and was emotionally strong enough to deny society’s pressures.
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