Becoming Who I Am


This post is going to be very personal, much more so than usual. I will delve into feelings that I normally don’t discuss with anyone, but I feel it’s time to strip one more layer of my soul, to let go of pretenses and be real. This is not going to be easy for me.

Lately, I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery; that much is clear from my posts and what I’ve talked about on other people’s blogs and on Twitter. It’s no secret that I’m still learning how to let go of material possessions and be free. That is an ongoing process right now. It’s not always easy and I do get stuck sometimes, but easy does it and steady wins the race, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Today I was walking to my favorite neighborhood café in Chicago, and pondering on where my life is going. I’ve arrived at a junction in my life where I have to realize that I haven’t really accomplished most of what I once set out to do. I’m at an age where some things seem too hard to do, almost like it’s too late to even start. Yes, sometimes I feel like I’ve failed, like I’m still waiting at the train station while fighting back the tears because I fear my train left a long time ago and won’t be coming back for me. For so long, I tried in vain to live the classic American life of excess and debt and running around in that little wheel inside my little cage. Now that I’m finally ridding myself of the cage, I find that I want more. Stripping my life of the non-essentials and the surplus (material and emotional) baggage has unveiled a picture of wasted time, my best years thrown away somehow. I’ve had some amazing experiences and I’ve traveled and I’ve met wonderful people along the way, but I now see that I could’ve had so much more if only I had been free to see what I was missing, and more importantly, what I was doing to myself. Sometimes I get a little depressed, and a light wave of sadness washes over me, like a mist that follows me around, not quite soaking me, but also not letting me fully dry out. That’s when I force myself to look at what I have accomplished in these few short months after I discovered minimalism and truly saw the absurdity of the consumer lifestyle I was living. I’ve been set free, but time is of the essence. Sometimes I feel like I should be moving faster.

I am not a young twenty-something with all the time in the world to make a “difference”. I am not making six figures in my current job, so I must be mindful of how I spend my money and figure out the logistics of a rainy-day fund and how to pay off my student loan debt so I can start planning for my minimalist “afterlife” of total freedom. I realize I must move forward without wasting time on little details or sentimental attachments. I’m excited for what is yet to come for me, and I can’t wait.

But one thing I refuse to do is feel sorry for myself. I refuse to wallow in regret, because even though I feel like I took this huge detour somewhere in my life journey, I also learned so much about myself and about life in general. I feel immensely rich in wisdom and work experiences, I’ve lived in so many different places, I’ve met (and lost) some amazing people who taught me so much, and those memories will never disappear. So yes, I feel a little sad, but I also feel very hopeful for what is yet to come in my life, and I just can’t wait to make it happen.

As I was walking to the café, I saw this blank sign on the sidewalk that someone had written this line on, and I couldn’t believe it. I immediately crossed the street and took a picture of it and decided it would accompany my next blog post, so here it is. “Become Who You Are”. How simple and yet how powerful. The notion that we are stil becoming who we (really) are, that our lives never stop evolving, that we never stop learning, that it’s never over, and there’s always a chance for a fresh start. This is what I want. This is where I’m headed in my life. I’m still working on “becoming who I am”. I feel like there’s still time, like I can still live the life I want, and be completely and totally free.

And you know what? I’m owning this phrase from now on, and I will apply it to my life every single day. I will continue to work on “becoming who I am”, knowing that it’s a lifelong pursuit, one that is fun and exciting and always worth it.

How about you? Are you “becoming who you are”? How are you working towards your goal of ultimate freedom? Talk to me in the comments below, or let’s continue the conversation on Twitter. Looking forward to interacting with you!

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52 thoughts on “Becoming Who I Am

    1. Thank you so much, Jenny. Your support means so much to me. I look forward to the day I’m totally and completely free, and I know that time is near, it’s very near. It feels good to be so light and focused, right? It’s an awesome feeling.

      Thanks again, and have fun on your vacation! See you soon!

      Rick

  1. I agree with Jenny, this is lovely and also, you’re not alone. I try hard not to have regrets because everything I’ve done and been through made me who I am, and mostly I like myself. But I do wish sometimes that things had been different.

    Thanks, Rick.

    1. Hey Kaari!

      Thank you SO much for your words of encouragement, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I was semi-terrified as I hit that “publish” button, but hey, life’s too short, gotta put it all out there, right? Yeah, I only wish I was half as wise in my 20s as I am now, and could’ve acted a little differently and made some slightly different choices. But this is here and this is now, and I’m only looking forward. And I’m gonna make it, dammit!!! 😀

      Thanks again for your kind words and let’s hang out again soon! Take care!

      Rick

  2. Da Vinci said that the greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions. He realized that one challenges the world view by first challenging one’s own view. As now, you are intelligently doing, and generously sharing.

    Letting go the material possessions, as you said, to be free, is just a way to clear our minds to really feel, like we used to do when being kids… eg. Enjoying the water in the swimming pool, or an icecream, or the sunrays. We forgot that on our way becoming adults… Well, as you reminded me those Da Vinci’s thoughts, I would like to recommend you a very interesting book, I guess you could like it. ‘How to think like Leonardo da Vinci’ by Michael Gelb, probably you know it, if not, I encourage you to read it… it’s a way to learn again to breath, feel, live … to open our eyes to our environment….It’s not easy, we’ve been all life learning that material was important… so what you/we are doing is a challenge.

    On the way to your insides you are encouraging and also leading us to do the same. Feel proud for that, dear. You couldn’t do that if you hadn’t lived the life you lived, your experiences took you now here.

    Never is too late to live, to learn or to change. Never. No matter our age. Don’t think again about what you didn’t make in the past… live the present. Feel proud, always.

    Thanks for this personal post. Saludos!.

    1. Victoria,

      ¡Hola! Thank you so much for your amazing words of encouragement. Wow, I’m so honored that my words had the effect they had on you, and your point is a very valid one: we lose our innocence and child-like wonder on our way to becoming adults, and that is so sad! I’m a big proponent of Zen, of living in the moment, of enjoying the NOW. The past is gone and the future is uncertain; now is all we have, so we must value it and honor it, and not waste it. And yes, our experiences in life make us who we are, and for that I’m very grateful.

      I have not read that book but I will put it on my list right now, and I can’t wait to read it. I will let you know what I thought of it.

      Thank you again so much for your beautiful words, and I hope to see you again very soon. ¡Cuidate mucho y hasta pronto!

      Rick

      P.S. I took that photo on my iPhone and then I used Instagram to apply the filter. I love how it came out, and I’m glad you liked it too! 🙂

  3. This is great Rick. I like being able to get to know you a little better through this post. 🙂

    I’m feeling very much the same way, so like Jenny and Kaari said, you’re definitely not alone.

    I would be curious to hear more about the accomplishments you feel have passed you by. Are they material ambitions? Or are the shackles of your material and financial responsibilities that you feel have prevented you from reaching your goals? Maybe you’ll share the answers to these questions in another “personal” post someday! 😉

    1. Hi Jenny – always great to have you back! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with these feelings, and it’s very comforting to know we can all walk down this road together and help each other along the way.

      I think I would like to share my “unfinished life projects” in another post, and I will definitely do that soon. That’s a great idea, so thanks.

      See you soon!

      Rick

      1. Hey RIck
        Thanks for this truly inspiring post. I think all humans (I do)’feel exactly the same way
        The difference is you have th courage to be open about and share it. Thank you.. It’s helping
        me a lot to start letting I of ” stuff”
        All the best

  4. I like that finding of the sign. And the others are right–you’re not alone, not by a long shot! I really relate to the sense of time passing one by–I’m 55, not in the best of health, and broke–but it’s important to detach enough to look at your own life like a story or movie. Makes it a little easier to take it all in.

    1. Hi Meg!

      You should’ve seen my face when I saw that sign. My jaw dropped and I bolted to cross the street to take the picture. It was like the best fortune cookie, but without the cookie! And it embodied what I was feeling at the moment, so it came at just the right time.

      I just turned 48 and I feel like I have SO much more to live and give. I also lost my sister-in-law (she was only 42) a year ago, and that made me realize that life is precious and it must be lived, really lived. Like that Aerosmith song says: “I don’t wanna miss a thing”. 🙂

      Rick

  5. Rick,
    This was a really touching post. I respect the hell out of your willingness to truly reveal a deeper more realistic side of yourself. I fear that most bloggers create this false-perfect self and only ever display their best traits online while disguising their worse.

    Thanks for not being afraid to show us that we are allowed to fear.

    1. Hey Dan,

      Thank you SO much for your words of encouragement. I felt like I just had to lay it all out there and tell it like it is in my life. I’m so grateful for all the positive reactions and words of solidarity all around. It’s amazing and it gives me fuel to keep going forward and not look back. But it also helps me realize that my being open and honest also helps others do the same and feel that connection that links us all, no matter where we are in our self-discovery journey. Again, thanks for stopping by and see you soon!

      Rick

  6. Rick – I really relate to this – thanks for sharing so honestly. I’m in kinda the same boat – heading towards my mid-40s with not much to ‘show’ for my life but a huge debt (that I’m working on).

    I am in a good space though and what helps me in that I can use my experiences to help others. Having been through all those ‘things’ in my life (and there have been many) I have learned a lot – and that can be of use to others.

    I’m also a big advocate of just being who you are – without judgement – warts and all. True acceptance and an honest desire to become ‘better’ whatever that means to you.

    Oh yeah, and of course gratitude – it could have been a lot lot worse and I’ve turned out OK.

    Steve

    1. Hi Steve!

      Welcome, and thanks for honoring me with your visit. I’m so happy to hear you can relate and that my honesty has helped you as well. Yes, our wisdom and life experiences do equip us to help others, and hopefully I can continue to do just that. I just turned 48, and the fact that in two short years I’ll be 50 just makes me very aware of the urgency in moving forward, but without forgetting to be grateful for the fact that I’m still alive and, like you so wisely said, I turned out OK so far. Thank you for your words of support; it means a lot to me. Please come by anytime. I will make sure I check your site as well. 🙂

      Rick

  7. Thanks, Rick! This is the first post of yours that I’ve read, and it inspires me to be more radically honest and bare MY soul for the world…I think that’s where real healing and change happens! Thanks for being brave and starting a chain reaction!

    1. Hi Zoe,

      I’m so moved by your beautiful words. Thank you for taking the time to visit me and write such kind and encouraging words. I only hope that I can continue to inspire and motivate others to be their very best, even as I learn a little more each day about how to go about being MY best while maintaining my sanity, LOL. Life is beautiful, and it’s so worth exploring and enjoying. That’s why I became a minimalist – to let go of all the junk that was holding me back from living a truly free life. I’m so happy you discovered my blog, and please continue to visit anytime. Take care!

      Rick

    1. Thank you, Dan. It feels good to be honest, it really does. And knowing that so many people are growing in their lives as a result of it just makes it all the more worthwhile. I am about to visit your site and read the post you linked. I’m sure it’ll be awesome. Thank you again!!!

      Rick

  8. This is good. Reading your post and reading the comments has made me feel really good. There seems to be a lot of us out there all in the same boat. I love it and I’m going to enjoy watching what unfolds for each of us.

    1. Yes, Deb, this is an interesting stage in my life, in which I’m reimagining what my life is/can be, and like you said, many of us are on that journey, and it feels good to help each other out along the way. Wherever it is that we’re going, we’ll get there somehow! 😀

  9. Hi Rick! This was a great post that I actually commented on from my phone, some reception glitch apparently prevented it from posting so here I am again to say I really enjoyed the thought process on this; we are all choosing each day to become our best selves or a quasi washed out, watered down version of who we should be. Love this phrase and what a serendipitous moment that you would encounter it and be able to photograph it for yours and ours benefit!

    1. Hi Gena,

      Yes, I was just shocked at how this sign appeared out of nowhere just as I was thinking along those lines. It was serendipitous indeed! I’m glad you enjoyed it and thanks for taking the time to come here and comment. 😀

  10. Yo Rick! arrived here via exconsumer.
    I was going to post some encouragement after reading halfway through your post, but then was happy to see after reading the full post that you’ve got it figured out. Keep on trucking brother and whenever any regret starts to creep in, punch it in the face and instead, be happy that you were in fact were able to shift your thinking while you still have plenty of life left (I think a majority of folks never do) There’s no destination- enjoy the journey with your new found wisdom, it’s a great place to be!

  11. It’s interesting that I wasn’t subscribed to your posts until today (thanks to your mention on Deb’s blog) since so many of my regular commenters are already here.

    I like the honesty of your posts and your admissions about where you are on your journey. Not enough bloggers speak honestly.

    I look forward to reading more. And come on over to my blog. I might eventually say something interesting.

    Gip

    1. Hi Gip!

      Thanks for stopping by and subscribing to my blog. Your words are very encouraging and I do appreciate them. I have already been to your blog, and believe me, it’s ALL interesting! 🙂 See you soon!

      Rick

  12. Thank you for your authenticity. A favorite expression of mine: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

  13. Great post.

    I am trying to subscribe for your email feeds, but keep getting your Facebook profile page. Is the email thing not available?

    1. Hi Marti,

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you liked the post.

      Are you still having issues subscribing to the email feed? Let me know, but I’ll look into it regardless. Thanks for the heads up!

      Rick

  14. Hey Rick,

    I finally made it here and, as you can see, went right for the heavy stuff! Maybe that’s because this is the day before my 40th birthday and I can relate so much to feeling like something has passed me by. Am I living the life I want? What can I do to get there? Is it even a reachable destination?

    They say it’s all about the journey and how everything that happens to us gets us where we are. I definitely think the most important thing is to keep growing and reevaluating our lives and ourselves.

    It’s funny (or sad?) how most people are so wrapped up in money and possessions and the struggle to “succeed” that they don’t have the first clue who they really are. Strip all that away and the picture gets a lot clearer… good and bad.

    I could go on, but I’ll stop there. Thanks for the post. And I hope your favorite cafe is Zanzibar 🙂

    1. Hi Dawn!

      Thanks for visiting my humble home. I do hope you make it a regular stop on your cyber-journeys, hehe.

      Yes, stripping away the superfluous stuff can (and probably will) reveal aspects of ourselves that are not pretty. But it’s the only way to know what needs to be adjusted in order to reach our true potential. That’s why many people feel threatened by minimalism, and it shouldn’t be that way. It’s a tool and a philosophy to allow us to enter a deeper vision of ourselves and life in general, to focus on the important things.

      Take care and see you soon!

      Rick

  15. Hi, Rick. I liked your post, it’s very sincere and open and so it will really stay with me for a while. You look young in the picture, come on, I’m sure you have enough time ahead.

    As I’ve dipped into different minimalist blogs, I have yet to see one that recognizes the philosophical origins of minimalistic thought: Stoicism. I would really really would like to recommend “A guide to the good life, the ancient art of stoic joy” by William B. Irvine. Those stoic guys were really wise, you know? they had great techniques for living simpler, less attached lives,but, Rick, they also had the most awesome advice on becoming free from social pressure, from our own tendency to stop enjoying as we get used to situations, people and stuff (hedonic adaptation), to control desire, and much more. A whole philosophy of life that complements and includes minimalism. You can’t miss this, because you can choose any philosophy in life, but the real danger, your article reminds us, is to not have one at all, and waste an entire life.

    That’s my great fear, but I’ve been a practicing stoic for some months now and It’s right for me. I hope I get better at it.

    Congrats!

  16. For the first time I read a post and feel as I have written it, or as if I am talking to myself. This is the beauty if blogs, you discover people who are just like you everywhere. Same sentiments same feelings but different experiences that enriches your own. Thank you

  17. I hear you.
    I am in my mid-late 40s and I sometimes feel like it’s too late to start certain things.
    My wife asked me for a divorce years ago and still I can hardly believe we don’t talk to one another and eat with one another and hold hands like we used to. We never will again.
    I’ve made so many mistakes, and one of them was always protecting my space and time.
    I ended up physically fit, well studied in my field, and alone.

    I just gave my bike away today because I haven’t ridden it in over a year. How freeing that was

    1. Don’t worry BNB, you have a long life ahead and tomorrow you can start a brand new life. As the saying goes “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

  18. Well, I myself are longing for minimalism. But I’m an unemployed adult and live with my Mom and since it’s her house I don’t think she’d approve of getting rid of too many things. But I have to say she’s very organized and the house is not cluttered at all, many people like it when they come in because it looks very tidy and modern.
    Another thing that I long for is to replenish the “hole” I have in my life with God. Of course this is much more important than the minimalism thing, but these two are the things that keep me thinking all the time.
    If I don’t have an attachment to things and have more of God in my life I would be really happy!
    I guess I have to work on these two things. I wish all of you happiness, health, and some wealth!

  19. I have felt these same feelings, at the age of 36, but I’ve felt them for a long time. Two books stand out to me in regards to this issue. The first is my all-time favorite: The Razor’s Edge. The second is the most obvious: Siddhartha. When I read Siddhartha I realized that the process we take, the years seemingly wasted, are vital and necessary to our development, even as they are often wrought with perceived failings. I think it’s amazing that at this young age, well before you’re too old to move forward with gusto (if that’s possible), here you are….your life before you and a new level of clarity with which to view it. Good luck and remember the value of the process itself. Mama P

  20. I have been very sick with flu the last week after returning from a business trip to Washington D.C. While browsing through Amazon.com on my Kindle, looking for something inspiring to read, I happened upon the book “Minimalism Essential Essays” by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. After reading their wonderful essays I decided to visit their website TheMinimalist.com. Their website sent me to you and this posting. I am a student of the Course in Miracles and truly believe that miracles still happen in this day and age. I believe you are my miracle for today. This posting spoke to me deeply. I will be sixty years old on September 26th and I have never been “who I am”. I have struggled my entire life trying to be who everyone; my mother, sisters, teachers, religion, my bosses, everyone; said I should be. So much so, that I really don’t know who I am or even who or what I want to be. I don’t even know what I like or what my passion is. I was beginning to think it was too late for me…until I read your posting. I do know I don’t want to continue living my life the way I believe others want me to. I have a good job and make decent money but all I want is to be able to do what I want to do, even if I don’t know what that is. I don’t want or need anymore stuff, I want to get rid of all my debt, and I want to live a simple life, travel and spend my money and time laughing, dancing, singing, drinking in life and being a model for my children and grand children. I want to give of myself and my experiences. I want to love and be loved. I want to spend time in the mountains, hike and play in the snow. Hey, wait a minute, maybe I do know what I want and who I want to be. Happy, really Healthy and Foot Loss and Fancy Free!!! How do I begin? I guess with the first step! 🙂 THANKS Rick for listening and for any advice you may have.

    1. Margie, I relate so well to your post, I also “used to” be a student Course in Miracles. Your writing reminded me of how that too got lost in the piles of my cluttered life. While i was doing the course I was becoming much more authentic and happy. Thanks for the remind 🙂

  21. I’m just now finding this post and your blog, but even though it’s been close to two years since you wrote it and many others have commented, I feel the same way as the others that you aren’t in this alone. I am facing this change currently for myself. I’ve spent about the last twenty years not becoming who I am due to some very personal issues that I allowed take away my self-identity. Now in the year that I’ll turn 40, I’m finding my way to who I truly am, and the timing of finding this post couldn’t be better.

  22. I’m not sure where to start. I think maybe the first thing for me to do in becoming who I am will be removing my husband’s surname from my Facebook profile. It will be an announcement of sorts. Yes, I am getting divorced. I am a single mother. And You know what. It’s OK.

    Thank you for your essay.

  23. I turned 41 last month, and every year I have the same self-review: I am a failure. Do better next year.

    Thanks for the interesting article; I am in the process of jettisoning my possessions to find out who’s underneath.

  24. Recently found your blog and truly enjoy reading the posts, especially this one. I find your writing to be genuine and thoughtful offering a great perspective on minimalism. Hope you return to blogging soon.

  25. I’m just coming to this article now and for much of the read, I found myself saying; “When did I write this” and “How did he get it”. So, much captured here mimics my exact thoughts and feelings including the tears it generated. I am moved to find that even though this is a few years old in its publication, I am in need of finding it now. Thank you. Thank you for sharing because thought intellectually one knows they are not really alone. Validation of being human and frail whether I’m willing to admit it or not, is and now has become very helpful, insightful and inspiring.

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