I loved the show “Charmed” while I was growing up. It painted a world of magic mixed with modern life, all the fantasy of Harry Potter drizzled over a world very much like my own–a world of friendship, love and loss, and real family struggles. One of my favorite characters was always Leo, a guardian of the show’s protagonists and also a strong male role model for a young boy like I was. Later in the show’s life, Leo underwent a series of trials that completely unmade his character–and part of his healing was something called a vision quest.
The vision quest is Native American in origin, a rite of passage usually consisting of a solitary immersion in nature to connect with one’s higher purpose. Like Leo, my life of late has been rife with trials that have completely unmade me–and like the role model he was when I was younger, Leo’s demonstration of personal growth through a vision quest has compelled me to set off on a similar journey of my own.
In an ideal world I would have a lush, green trail to follow to a small clearing beside a lake, a place of large sun-drenched boulders where I could lie back and watch the clouds fade into the starlight of the entire universe hovering above me. But this is not an ideal world, and the nearest copse I could crawl into would lead me across the street in about ten minutes. Hardly suitable for a journey like this.
Instead, my vision quest will take me deeper into myself–deeper into every facet of my life to discover the diamonds in the rough that keep me alight every day. This is a journey whose beginning goes back many months, a journey that now needs to come to completion.
I once jokingly said I had my entire life planned through graduation at Guilford Tech, and it took too long to see how true this was. As March burned away and April came upon me, I began to cling to every promise of consistency I could find. I fell in love with a man I thought would lead me to the end of my days–or else I fell in love with this hope, this promise for continuity. I committed myself to a single school needing a single path to follow; I needed others to make the decisions for me, because without a plan, I couldn’t decide for myself.
I still defer decisions to others. I struggle to decide. I’m naturally unsure and inactive, and this leaves me feeling noncommittal and apathetic at times. It’s a part of myself I’ve only recently began to look at honestly (“I’m indecisive,” I used to say, “I think too much”). Recognition is only the first step to transformation, but it’s the transformation–the personal growth–that truly amazes me.
I made a lot of mistakes this last year. I made a lot of stupid decisions, and then I made a lot more because they hadn’t been stupid enough for me to see what was really going on. But once I was there, I reached out and I asked for help. I signed up for counseling and started attending a weekly support group. I attended workshops on leadership, communication, and purpose–but when faced with the big questions of life, I still didn’t know how to answer.
However, once I heard those questions, I could begin the internal process of finding these answers–sliding ever deeper down the rabbit hole that is my soul and somehow finding myself at a week-long workshop in vision development: The LeaderShape Institute. Granted, we learned about a lot more than vision alone, but of everything they taught, this was what I needed most. Even as I began the preliminary investigations they guided us through, I knew as soon as I was home, I’d be digging deeper in every aspect of my life: I am not defined by a single vision, and to truly own myself, I must indulge and be intimate with every facet of my identity.
Over the coming week or so, I’ll be poring through each element of my life, seeking the answers I need to find myself and define myself. If you’ll join me on this journey, I’ll share a glimpse of my life that will take us from education through student organizations, past college jobs and career goals, culminate in my vision for the Writingwolf, and finally come to a close with a post I wrote months ago–a post so revealing, as soon as I wrote it, I shoved it away, too afraid to honestly believe what I’d written, too afraid to commit to it, to share it.
I’m not afraid anymore.
Honestly, I’m terrified, but part of my personal philosophy is the dependency of humanity upon the sole expression of fear, so this doesn’t bother me. In fact, it empowers me, because if I’m not afraid, if I’m not scared and terrified, how can I ever stand up and be brave?
I want to be brave.
And I want to know myself.
So this journey starts now.