|Personal photo // A typical view of my home region "Auvergne"|
The life simplification I started two years ago is deeply linked to a search for identity and authenticity. I noticed there are (at least) three facets to one's identity: who I think I am, who others think I am, and who I want to be. Today, I'd like to speak a bit more about "who I want to be".
After I came back from Japan in 2007 and until spring 2011, I had very long hair, wore high heels, tailored shirts, bootcut pants, a lot of jewelry, long nails and a lot of make-up. This was a mix of habits I picked up in Japan, a (mostly unconscious) need to be taken seriously, but also a way to build an armor of self confidence - looking older, more serious and elegant was a way to reassure myself that I was up to the challenge of being an adult.
Erin's answer to one of my questions could sum up the situation well: "I realized I was using clothing as a costume to pretend to be the person that I wish I was, instead of making the effort to actually become that person." I dressed like "an adult" because I wish I was doing well at becoming one.
A gap between "who I/other people think I am" and "who I want to be"
But the key here, is that I didn't even notice this gap between who I was becoming and who I really wanted to be, until a comment from a co-worker made me realize how she saw me and revealed that gap to me. I think we are so caught up in our everyday life, we are so busy we don't take the time to look at ourselves and notice these things. We don't take the time to discover who we are and think about who we want to be.
Making changes to get closer to "who I want to be"
Yes, editing my wardobe and working toward a new style that matched the image I wanted to project to others was a starting point. Because the realization of the gap came from a remark on my looks, and because it is the easiest thing to change.
But this was only the starting element. To Erin's point above, it is useless to "dress like the person I wanted to be" if I didn't also change my behaviour and actions to actually become that person. So I had a sort of "second epiphany" in January 2012, when I realized I was changing my style but not the rest. I remember it came from a remark from my partner, stating that I was spending just as much money on clothes as before, and speaking about it all the time.
Who do I want to be?
Then, once I eliminated from my everyday behaviour all the things I didn't want to do, all there was left were possibilities. What do I want to do instead? That's where my self discovery journey really started. What do I like? Reading, writing, music... What are my values? Quality over quantity, fighting consumerism, experiences and relationships over material pursuits...
Writing a blog helped me a lot in this journey, as I could write about the values I was defining for myself, share TED talks and studies and books I read, put my thoughts together my wording them in posts, but also get feedback from readers which made me think further about all these questions.
Today, I am a lot closer to who I want to be than I was in 2011, and I have never been so self confident, comfortable and happy with my life. I admit I still have a long way to go, further actions to take to get even closer to my ideal of a simple life, but if I had never asked myself "Who do I want to be?" I would never had come such a long way in the first place...