It’s not the what, it’s the how


Clissold Park, London, Autumn 2014

For quite some time I’ve struggled with the question “What should I do with my life?”. Being completely struck by this question, I was trying to define myself according to one activity, as if the latter would constitute my own legacy.

I’ve been looking for an identity into many different kind of activities: teaching, researching, selling, dancing, practicing martial arts, making masks, writing, just to name a few.

In my struggle in defining who I am I was trying to get better and better in those things hoping that, if I were able enough in them I would got finally an answer to the question: “Who Am I?”.

It’s needless to say that this was never the case. That question constantly remained unanswered by all of those things.

All of those activities were great. They gave me some insights on what I am and how I approach things. All of them individually, though, consistently failed in giving me the whole picture of who I am.

Even worse,  all of this search, all of those expectations, were constantly turning something I loved into something rigid, not fun, dead.

Only recently I came to one important conclusion: none of those things will ever define who I am. No single activity will be able to define the mystery of who we are, no matter what.

Trust me, I’ve learnt the lesson. Also I’ve learnt that this is especially true because what I like, what I want and what I feel is always changing.

Rather than defining myself from what I do I am learning that it is the how that matters. Of course I am not neglecting the importance of what we do. I just don’t want to be caught up into definitions anymore.

Activities will change. What we like now might not be what we like in few years time. It really is the how we make stuff that makes all the difference.

Now that this is clarified a number of other unexpected insights appeared.

I’ve realised that most of the fear I was feeling was actually coming from the thought of not having my expectations met. With the expectations gone, the fear is gone too.

The same thing holds for the need of validation. I don’t need anybody to really tell me who I am based on what I do. I can just focus on what I love without the need to twist it into an output for other’s approval.

What is coming now is a bigger sense of trust. I know that I don’t know what the future will bring. I just know that by focusing my attention on the how of things, rather than the what, I’ll be totally fine.

So the result of this little experiment is that by cutting expectations we definitely more free. At the end of the day it is always us putting most of the weight on ourselves. But, if it’s our weight it also means that we can take it away.

So why not letting it go?


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