Christopher Canady/ August 5, 2017/ Uncategorized/ 12 comments

How do you know who you are?Illinois-sky

My whole life, I had no idea who I was. Sure, I’m Chris, I’ve got a brother and both of my parents, all of my limbs and organs (mostly), and when I look in the mirror I see the same face, growing every day. But in all honesty, who am I? Everyone gets to say I, and yet all of us are different. Every single one of us is I. So how then do we differentiate? Up until the end of high school, I felt as if I were floating through life like I had no control over how I acted or what happened to me. I felt as if I were watching my body go through life without any say. Emotions came and went rarely, and I never knew if I was actually feeling something, or I understood what was supposed to be felt and mimicked that.

Now, I have learned that while all of our actions are guided, each choice we make is a constant back and forth between our ego and higher self. I have always had control over all of my actions, and only through my actions could I indirectly and directly control what happened to me, to an extent. I am still trying to understand the floating, not in my body feeling, but it seems to have a lot to do with my neurochemistry. In previous articles, I have gone in depth with terms and neurotransmitters, and this one will only touch on neurology. Understanding who we are entails something much larger than science alone can describe, although the articles on serotonin and oxytocin may help a bit.

Over the years, I have had many emotional extremes of up and down, followed by a complete lack of emotions altogether. I learned that all of this stems from something I didn’t realize I have, and while I have never seen a “professional” for this, I hit every mark under the term Asperger’s. All through school, I have had no idea who I was. I floated from group to group, trying to fit in, and it is easy to say that it rarely worked. But I am forever grateful for all of the experiences I have had, as they have brought me to where I am today.

All of my stories will be told as this journey grows over the years.

Do not run from your shadow, it will only grow larger.

Imagine if you split yourself into two. Clone yourself if you will. One part of you is who does the dishes, folds laundry, makes you eat and sleep and be get things done even when you do not want to. The other half laughs, plays games and watches TV, eats lavishly, has sex, substance, and all pleasure imaginable, without responsibility. As you spend every day in pleasure, you can tell your dutiful half to do all of your chores, work for you and build you anything you could ask for.

The catch? The working half, free from the distractions of thrill and enjoyment, completes every task at lightning speed. It comes to you when you are in the middle of relaxation, asking for more to do. Each task you give is completed faster than the previous. As you run out of tasks to give, you become fearful, as your other half is growing, menacingly. It grows larger and scarier, demanding that you give it a task, a job. You beg and plead to just go back to relaxing, to pleasure and fun. You run to the bathroom, to look in the mirror to make sure all of this is real (of course it isn’t, I told you to imagine, remember?).

Your darker, workaholic self stands intimidatingly behind you, growing bigger as your happier self shrinks into doubt and regret. You wish you had worked more, but also wished you weren’t so hard on yourself. As you slink to the floor, you realize that both of these creatures, the desire for pleasure and the desire for challenge, are both you.  Trying to only have one, will never work. Sure, it can happen, but neither side is sustainable on its own, there has to be an even balance of work and play. When you split yourself, and run from love or responsibility, the side you are ignoring becomes your shadow.

A not so well known poet, but a beautiful soul nonetheless, Rudy Francisco once wrote, ““My hobbies include editing my life story, hiding behind metaphors and trying to convince my shadow that I’m someone worth following.”
I really think those words resonate with this idea of our shadow.

We all are a balance of spirit and ego, mind and body, physical and psychological.

Flowers-at-Brookfield-Zoo

We could go on forever talking about how and where our mind comes from, how we are aware, and why all of this is even a thought. Humans have questioned consciousness since the beginning of our time. Seriously, ask me a question and we could talk about the why’s for days. Now, neuroscience has shown us that all of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors, everything that we are and do comes from trillions of neurons sending and receiving messages all over our body. We still have yet to define the relationship between physical matter and mental/spiritual phenomena.

With all of this in mind, learning how our left and right brains work have shown me vast amounts of information as to how I have developed over the past 20 years. Our left brain is analytical, logical, mathematical, written words, linear processing, hard and concrete understanding. Our right brain is creative, intuitive, musical and artistic awareness, and “thinking on the spot”.

In first grade, running in from recess, I tripped and hit the left side of my head on a concrete wall, jutting out from the bathroom. Every time I have wondered why my math or reasoning skills have been slower than most, the next thought I have is that memory. This sequence of thinking started long before I learned anything about the hemispheres of our brain. This event is one example of how millions of moments shape who we are. In a matter of seconds, every micro decision I ever made was influenced simply by hitting the wall. Now take this, and look at your own experiences, and see how everything affects everything.

So what about that shadow?

Find your purpose through what you love to do, and focus on those few things.

Shadows form when there is something in between light and the surface is it shining on. Our shadow is always with us. Acknowledge it as part of yourself, accept that you have as much evil in you as you do good. Choose to be good.

Every single one of us has a handful of things we absolutely love, a big bag of stuff we tolerate, and a couple (hopefully not too many) parts of life we cannot stand. Most people end up confusing having a life with making a living and spend most of their years doing something that started off as tolerable. Of course, this is only my own perception, and I very well could be wrong. But from what I have seen, many people around me answer with the blah attitude of “fine” when I have asked how they like their job. There have been several studies that contradict each other, saying a vast majority of people dislike and love their jobs. As with anything, look around you and decide for yourself.Sydney-from-Taronga

I love to write, oh do I love to write. Hence the article you are reading now. I love words, I love learning how people interact, think, and act. I love martial arts, and I love creating things from crazy ideas that pop into my head. I can tolerate working with my hands. I can tolerate mowing, working in the yard, outside sweating and doing manual labor. A long day of cutting logs starts to become a kind of meditation.

I despise being in a factory. Not the being around metal/concrete, building something. The building part is fascinating. But the defeated attitude, the “I’m doing this because it’s all I know and need a paycheck” while listening to negative after negative on the radio, depresses me. I really would love to hear about a factory or big industrial workplace out there that doesn’t have this feeling in the air.

Create your own story, live the life you want to live.

There are an uncountable number of ways to make a living. How many people within 10 miles of you will pay you for your time? A vast majority of those tasks would be at most tolerable, and some of them would be outright horrible.

Every single one of us has a handful of passions, and I cannot stress to you enough how important it is that you pursue these dreams. People, relationships, the love of your life, also count. I could be the most famous writer in the world, have millions of fans and millions of dollars, and still be miserable if there were no one to share this with. As much as we can love our profession, no amount of work compares to that of human connection.

Relationships are their own work in themselves. Just as that dream job, it may take a few tries and failures before you find the perfect one. And even when you have that dream job, that soulmate who invades all of your thoughts, it still will be the hardest thing you have ever done. I promise you that. But god is it worth it. Michelangelo, the famous painter and sculptor of the Renaissance era, once said, “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”

As former Olympic gymnast Dan Millman once said, “Continue to improve without having anything to prove.”

Embrace who you are, regardless of what the rest of the world says. If all of us did this, nobody would feel bad being their truest selves. People will shoot you down before you even get started, telling you what will make you happy when they are not happy themselves. A select few people will understand you, will let you be yourself regardless of where you are and what you are doing.

I have run from my shadow for most of my life. I now know that everything happens to bring us where we are now, so that we may learn in the way that is best for us. Life has a funny way of working out. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. I have acknowledged my shadow, accepted the darker parts of me, and choose to become a better person. It is easy to give in to impulse, easy to relax all day with no responsibility or work for eternity without trying at love. Really check out those last two links, it will be worth your time.⇑⇑

Embrace who you are, run at life full speed and don’t leave any part of yourself behind.

There is never a better time than now to do what needs to be done. Make that phone call. Visit your grandmother. Finish that project. Where would you be if you had started that thing you wanted to do years ago? We only have one chance. Seriously, don’t waste the one life you have. When we are patient with ourselves and others, we automatically become kind. Not every moment needs to be spent working, but neither does it need to be spent in relaxation. When you find the person you love, the dream you adore, work and play become interchangeable.

No one ever said it would be easy. They only said it would be worth it. Failure is part of life. Learn to love failure, as this guy does. At the end of the day, when I have been turned down for the hundredth time, comes the break. The approval. It will come. We know who we are when we wouldn’t rather be doing anything else, with anyone else.

My-best-friend-and-I

My best friend and I

 

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12 Comments

  1. You are a very wise young man. I appreciate the thought and time you took to write about such an important subject. You are on a good path I believe and I acknowledge you for sharing about you and your challenges. Please keep it up! You are also a very good writer!
    Thank you!

    1. Your kind words mean a lot, thank you very much! I am trying to get into the habit of writing every day. If you are having trouble starting a habit, check out this article here, it may help out. 

      Good luck to you!

  2. There has to be something else in force, in regards to moment to moment decisions that affect one’s life. I speak of food and the dieters dilemma. I have been about 20 pounds overweight for 30 years. Not enough to be out of health, but enough to make me not happy with my weight. I know intellectually what I need to do, yet I cannot seem to overcome those small decisions that halt my ability to lose weight.

     Why? I ask. Is it a decision or a state of being? Are these decisions within my control or not? Sometimes I think if I gather all the intellectual information, I will be able to solve my issue. But it never seems to happen. I am old enough now that I am starting to give up the effort and control (or attempt at control). Is this the beginning of what you describe as “embracing who you are?

    1. You ask a very interesting question, thank you for your response. I will attempt to answer it the best I can. 

      From my experience, intellectual knowing will only get us so far. We can know all of the words in the dictionary, quantum physics inside and out, etc. but if we do not know how to use this knowledge, how much value does it pose to us? What are those small, micro decisions that you make, moment to moment? 

      In my belief, we all can only control our bodies, our actions, and nothing else. We cannot control our thoughts or our feelings. They come and go as they please, but we can control how we act (or not) upon them. With that being said, there is a boundary between really wanting something, feeling it in your heart, and intellectually wanting something. 

      You may have anxiety about being overweight, and constantly are thinking about how it bothers you. This then causes a negative feeling, and it is a never ending cycle. My best advice is to never give up the effort. Keep trying, striving every day to be the best person you can be for yourself. Along with that, you may find interest in this book, as it has helped me tremendously. 

      But no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to control your thoughts or feelings, directly. However, these are determined by your actions, your perception of yourself. If you embrace who you are right now, accept and love fully regardless of what has or is happening, you will move towards the life you wish to have. Instead of focusing on what you do not have (in your case, the desired body), focus on what you do have. Health, family, wealth, a computer, a home, food, water etc. 

      We all have many, many things to be grateful for, and when we focus more on what we do have than what we do, our desires become less, and we become more satisfied with life, and thus, the choices we make. 

      Feel free to message me if you would like to talk further!

  3. I am 34 and still don’t know who I am!

    I definitely know who I want to be and what I want to do with my life but i’m not sure I am capable of being that person.

    “Where would you be if you had started that thing you wanted to do years ago?’ This line is definitely true, when I had no job, when I was drowning in my own self pity and wasting time dwelling on the unimportant I could have been working on what I knew could change my life. I would be much happier, proud of myself and living the life I have always dreamed of.

    Good post, very inspiring!

    1. 34 is my magic number, what a coincidence! It is totally okay, I really believe that none of us ever fully know who we are, as life is a series of moments and we are always changing. 

      Who do you want to be, what would you like to do with your life? You absolutely are capable of being that person, and so much more. Micro steps towards your big goal or dream is how to start. I recommend checking out Gary Vaynerchuk if you would like some good advice/motivation/uplifting words. 

      We all are in that boat at some point, and it is never too late to start now. If you are aware of it, take the steps now to improve! Light exercise, eating well, and getting enough rest are good places to start, please reach out if you ever need anything!

      Best of luck to you Salvatore, you can do it!

  4. I really loved reading your post. You are a good writer so I’m sure this is what you’re supposed to be doing with your life. I have a dear friend who has a border line Asperger condition. He’s learning how it influences his relationships and we talk about it sometimes. I love your Dan Milman quote so much I added it my ‘favorite quotes file’. Thank you for being real.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, it really means a lot to me! It is nice to hear of others with Asperger’s, I am glad he has someone to talk to, it really is important, as it is hard to form relationships as it is. I would love to hear more about your guy’s relationship, and hear his story, if he is interested!

      Dan Millman has really changed my life for the better, I have several of his books. Thank you for taking the time to read as well as leave a comment!

  5. Thank you very much for writing such a sincere article. I found that you were able to lend me some insight in how we think. You Are an old soul, and it seems you are on a destined path of helping others with the power of your words. Well done!
    Take Care, Heather

    1. You are very kind, I appreciate your thoughtful words. Thank you very much, I hope to do exactly that. 

      Best of luck to you!

  6. Dude. This was a really interesting read. I’ve never thought of live the way you discuss it in this post, especially the thought of yourself splitting into your responsible and carefree selves.

    I’m intrigued at the insight you have, especially for how young you appear to be. Keep it up, you’re building something great while a lot of others your age are out wasting away.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. If you found this interesting, I recommend reading the book “Awakening Spirits” by Tom Brown Jr. I got the splitting apart idea from that book, it really is an insightful read. 

      Thank you, your kind words are a part of what lets me know that what I am doing is okay. I really appreciate your support. 

      Have a wonderful day!

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