Who were you supposed to be?
Have you let that person go?
Maybe you’ll relate to what happened to me.
I sang, I played the violin with deep tones that made people’s heart ache, I wrote poems. I loved being quiet unless I was sharing. I was awkward.
I had a tendency of being objective to the point of sparking discomfort in others. I was an artist.
But my parents said no. I was a daughter of immigrants. There was no room for mirth or missions that didn’t include instant financial stability. I could be a doctor, or maybe a lawyer. Better a doctor.
In high school, I liked astronomy. I loved the stars. I barely passed chemistry. Perhaps I could marry a doctor if I couldn’t be one, my mother said. I went to Brown. I went to Harvard.
When I was 25, she recommended that I become a postal service worker for the government benefits. But my heart wasn’t into delivering or sorting mail. I knew what she was really telling me.
I pushed who I wanted to be angrily out the door, hot tears flowing, that day when I was 25.
I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be looked down on by my parents for being a financial failure (although who demands financial success by 25?). I left my heart behind.
I became a research analyst on Wall Street. I moved market prices of securities with my opinions. I was extremely successful for many years. And then something happened.
My marriage fell apart. I actually saw the relationship I was building with my kids, which was disciplined and cold. They were becoming sad kids. I’d built a life absent of a beating heart. It was an unkind life in which I showed no empathy for others, because I had none for myself.
Two years ago, I began to veer. Hot tears started flowing again, for the first time in over a decade. They wouldn’t stop. I’ve been rebuilding since then.
I let go of all the relationships that no longer served me.
I let the child in whom I’d abandoned years ago. She never left, even though I had asked her to go. She had waited patiently.
Missions are a funny thing. They never leave you.
When you’re ready to embrace what makes you unique and share it with the world, your mission arises. You could be 12, or 40. I was 40. Sometimes when you’re sensitive, it’s even harder to show up for your mission.
Who were you supposed to be?
An astronaut? A gardener? A chef? A writer? Who did you leave behind for the sake of financial security? What was your mission before life got in the way?
Are you ready to honor who you really are? Or is it yet too early?
The feeling of regret may be churning in the pit of your stomach. Let it go. The light in you that makes you unique can never be extinguished. The best you can do is leave it on simmer.
Maybe you’re ready to turn the flame higher. I hope so. I don’t know your faces but I know I love you.
Do your eyes shine with fire when you remember?
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You can find me at janehwangbo.com.