Bookstores and the internet are chock full of resources to help you find your passion and rediscover yourself. Most of us over a certain age have shelves lined with “rediscovering yourself in the second half of life” and bookmarked sites for “finding your true direction”. They’re all valuable tools and combined with live workshops and one-on -one coaching, people do often discover what makes them tick and develop a mission. But if you really want to get back in touch with forgotten dreams, the best source is an old friend, someone who knew you before you unlearned what you already knew, before you traded in that innate wisdom for the knowledge of conformity.
I’m not talking about a sibling or life long friend you’ve kept in touch with over the years. Their image of you is who you’ve become. The most valuable source for getting back in touch with your core values is someone you shared secrets and dreams with before you you became the responsible, practical adult who put your own dreams on the back burner. If you’re fortunate enough to renew that relationship, you’ll likely uncover some precious pieces of the YOU that have been eluding you.
In the past year, thanks to the internet, several friends from my youth have contacted me. Since I use social networking sites mainly for business relationships, I don’t expect to see faces from long ago and definitely don’t go searching them out, so it’s a delightful surprise to hear from these long lost friends.
Because I had supportive parents and wasn’t pressured into being something I’m not, I believed I’d stayed pretty true to my core values and hadn’t really lost touch with my dreams. But decades of marriage and motherhood do change our focus and I also put everyone’s happiness and well being ahead of my own. I think it’s genetic programing. Even self actualized, liberated women can lose a piece of themselves while holding together a family. And connecting with people who knew you before career, mortgage and taxes skewed your life view, can trigger memories of buried dreams.
In recent months, I’ve had the fortune of hearing from a childhood friend, a high school buddy and a college room mate, all people I was close to but lost touch with in adulthood. These are people who knew me when listening to my heart and holding fast to my convictions was still a given.
Two weeks ago I returned from “Follow Through Camp” with Barbara Winter, Alice Barry, Sandy Dempsey and my tribe of inspired change agents, fired up to recharge the part of my business I’m most passionate about. As if to confirm that it’s time to focus on that dream, I found in my mailbox a Facebook message from someone I hadn’t spoken with in over 30 years, a friend who knew me when I still thought of myself as an artist, a teacher and saw life as an enormous canvas on which I would color a better world . The most valuable insights have been though late night emails about what mattered then.
I’m not referring to romance here but to two people who are reminding each other of who they each were when making a living, making a life and making a difference was a given not an option.
If you’re fortunate to have had a friend who knew you then, when your goals were to live from the inside out, find that friend. If they don’t offer it up, ask questions. What do they remember you talking about? Do they remember something you got so excited about that you could think of nothing else? Ask then to describe the essence of the YOU they remember.
Short of finding your childhood diaries, this is the sharpest lens on who you were and the most direct road back to finding your true north.