One day 7 years ago an idea flew up off the pavement and smacked me in the prefrontal cortex.
“If everyone in the world that I knew suddenly died,
and I lost everything I owned, would I still be who I currently was trying to be?”
The answer was a bit of a shock to me. Shit no. I’d totally recreate my life.
But when I asked myself what I’d build if the metaphorical life carpet was ripped from under me, I realised I had no bloody idea.
Not an inkling.
Who the heck was I?
I was Andrea, I had an architecture degree, I was a traveller, a high achiever, a sister, a daughter of a Kiwi mum and English Dad. But since I wasn’t an architect and still trying to work out what to do with my career, I felt that I didn’t have a sense of who I was. My CV was a mess, and I felt like one too.
In our society we tend to base who we are on what we do, so when we don’t have a career or we don’t like our career, it can get very destabilising to our perceived sense of self.
We start out pretty sure of ourselves as kids – we know what we want (Hairdresser Barbie) and we do everything in our power to make sure we get it (shoe-throwing Kmart floor tantrum).
As we grow up, everyday life piles layers and layers of crap onto of our ‘self’ via our mind – judgements, rules, expectations, insecurities, fears, emotional baggage – and we become so weighed down by all the layers that we forget who our self is underneath.
This means that we can no longer be sure of which direction we want to head in, so we look around and see everyone else moving in a certain direction, so we think, well bollocks, they must know where they’re going, I’ll follow them. Everyone ends up following because everyone else is following, and the one at the front of the herd is like, shit,
I’ve no idea where I’m going yo.
I honestly think this is how the majority of us end up stuck in jobs we don’t love, baffled that the path that everyone else is on didn’t turn out to be more fulfilling.
I was one of the sheep following the herd for a while (we all are at some point), until I realised the path was making me more and more unhappy and lost, so I decided to veer off down the bank to work out my own path. And when I did I realised that there are loads of people veering off their paths too.
Project Self is about – turning the magnifying glass back onto our lives,
picking the areas which have been neglected while we focussed on external goals, and working out why you’re on the path that you’re on, whether you want to stay on it, and what other paths pique your curiosity.
There are many, many paths to a bloody good life, and many many resources to give us ideas. My intention with Project Self is to encourage you to start studying life in the way you studied for your career, and to share the techniques that I’ve come across while doing exactly that.
The most exciting concept to me is that everything can be studied – health, happiness, moods, sex, relationships, friendships, routines, decisions, the lot! Many of you don’t have time for such endeavours, so follow me, I’m doing the research for you!