I had a dream that
I was walking amongst people in a parade and then I saw this beautiful girl walking near the edges of the street. I rushed to her and asked her to follow me. I wanted to remove her from the parade. She looked at me with her light brown eyes and gave me her hand. She had long curly dirty blonde hair and a fair complexion. She was wearing a long sleeveless white dress and seemed very fragile.
I asked her where she was going and who she was. She didn't know the answer to any of my questions. She just felt the need to follow the crowd. She seemed lost and confused. Her face had a blank stare and a sense of longing for something lost. It was as if she was missing something, maybe some color. So, I took it upon myself to show her around, I felt it was my duty to show her other places other than just following the crowd.
We stumbled upon this Dominican restaurant that was almost out of place since it was surrounded by many American bars and restaurants. I was so happy to show her the food I grew up eating that I grabbed her hand so hard that I thought I would break her arm and rushed her into the restaurant. I almost felt like a child wanting to share my candy. We sat on stools and the waitress asked us what we wanted to order.
I took charge and ordered my favorite foods; mangu (mashed plantains with sautéed onions) with olive oil instead of butter, white rice, red beans, sliced avocados and shredded cabbage salad. Even in my dream, I stuck to a Vegetarian diet! She tried the mangu and didn't like it as much. Stranger than that was that I remained cool and collected as she expressed her dislike of one of my favorite dishes growing up.
I didn't feel the need to make her like my favorite dish which is weird since I usually have a control issue. It felt so liberating to accept her dislike for it. My response was to ask her to try the rice and beans next, which she did. When she took a bite of the rice and beans, I could see her cheeks turning rosy. It was as if a painter was finally putting some color in his masterpiece. Now I could finally see a smile on her. She wore it very nicely.
Her voice was starting to awake. I could tell she was feeling more alive, like blood rushing and racing to her brain. She felt she could trust me and let me show her things she'd forgotten. She could finally see herself in me. At that point, I realized who she was. She was my soul, my lost identity. She couldn't see her beauty, only I could. She felt powerless and beat to a point of submission to the crowd.
She felt unloved, like a piece of junk, so she thought, why should she try to fight it any longer? She gave up on her colors and they escaped her until this day, they returned home.
This dream had me thinking about who I am. Have I been living a lie? Have I been holding myself back all these years? Life has a funny way to convey its message. For me, the message was that I had lost my identity trying to survive and that I needed to remind myself of who I really am inside. I no longer have to pretend to be someone else just so I can get the people closest to me to love me. I am free.
This is a realization that takes a lot of courage and time. It is also very scary to realize that I am responsible for creating the life I want to have. I can no longer make up excuses as to why I am unhappy with myself. See, this whole time I've been thinking that the key to happiness was to focus on the now and forget everything else. While that is mostly true, it is missing an essential part. That part is the need to embrace your past and not run away from it.
I thought that if I pretended that I was American and not act like a Dominican that I would be accepted in this country. I thought my life would be so much better if I renounced my heritage. The answer to my problem in this situation is that I need to embrace my identity as a Caribbean woman. I can't run away from it any longer, I won't allow myself to do that anymore. When you run away from who you are inside, you are essentially telling yourself that you don't like 50% of who you are.
The past is part of the puzzle of creating a balanced life.
In order to find myself, the real me, I have to stop running and face my fears head on. I realized that finding myself is a 4-step process and it is as follows: Soil, Seed, Sun and Sweat.
Soil: This is the foundation of who you are. This is where you start thinking about your values and boundaries. This is where you start showing respect and love to yourself. If you try to be like everyone else and take on their beliefs in order to fit in then your soil will not be a fertile ground for your seed.
Seed: You have to plant the seeds in yourself in order to move on. This is done by being aware of the fact that you're not perfect and you don't need to be. You only need to start planting a seed of belief in your abilities in order to have a rich and fertile soil. This is where self talk comes into play. I'm going to start seeing a therapist in order to get help for how I talk to myself. I need to learn to be kind to myself when I am not being the best I can be.
Sun: In order for your plant to grow, you need to put it in a place where the sun shines bright. Start hanging out with people who are striving to find themselves as well. Listen to podcasts and watch videos of people who worked on themselves and now are happier. This does not mean that you have to only follow people who make a lot of money. Follow who you want to get inspired by.
Sweat: Finding yourself takes a lot of hard work. Anyone who tells you that this journey is easy is lying to you. That person is lying to themselves or wants to keep you small. Do the things that make you uncomfortable. I don't like going out so much but I am learning to put myself out there a little bit more so that I can attract new friends and experiences.
We have to remember why we set goals and why we get up in the morning. Finding ourselves is crucial in order to live a more fulfilling life. Life is colorful, not black and white. This is something that I've learned the hard way. I'm glad I did though.
Life is a flow of experiences and memories that carry us to the waterfall of existence. It is up to us to get a boat and enjoy the ride or sink to the bottom of the river that is life.
Share your experience in the comments section below. Tell me, which of the steps listed above are you currently in? How did you find yourself?
With Love, Dania