I’m writing this blog from Venice, CA as I look out of the window of my new home (for the next little while at least) at the beautiful ocean and amazing beachfront. Despite the incredible view and the proximity to the beach, which is like instant food for my soul, I’ve been feeling somewhat unsettled since I got here a few days ago.
The reason I’m here is because ever since I visited for the first time a little over a year ago, the calling to be here has grown louder and louder. With every visit, more doors have opened, and it quickly became crystal clear that the path to the fulfillment of my dreams was leading me here.
Making the choice to leave my home, my family, my friends, my community and all the comforts and familiarity of the life I have grown so accustomed to in Toronto was not an easy one, and I took my time making it. After several trips to feel it out and explore, my growing excitement around the possibilities and opportunities here in Los Angeles gave me the courage I needed to take the leap (even though it took me a good while to muster it up). I also can’t understate the impact of the amazing community of people here – who have opened their arms and lovingly welcomed me – on my decision to be here.
And yet, despite all of that, despite my solid inner knowing that this is where I’m supposed to be, despite the many friends and exciting opportunities that await, during my first few days here I was confronted by a familiar but no so kind voice in my head that said, ”You don’t belong here.”
Like many, my first experiences of not belonging came during my childhood and adolescence when I was left out by groups I wanted to be a part of, or singled out and made fun of by friends for being different. And so the unconscious belief that “I’m not enough” was formed and the story that “I don’t belong” was born. As anyone who has traveled the path of personal growth knows, being aware of a limiting belief or story creates a choice and the opportunity to replace it with a more empowering one, but it doesn’t prevent the belief from creeping back in every now and again. In fact, creating a new belief and story is a choice that we must make over and over again, and it’s often before a major breakthrough that we experience our demons rearing their ugly heads with intensity and ferocity.
So here I am…again. And I’ve been here enough times to know that I have a choice. I also know myself well enough to know that a big part of what I’m feeling is a natural effect of the big change of the move, and it’s up to me to give it a meaning that empowers me or to identify with the old familiar.
With all that in mind, I’ve been giving myself space to feel what I’m feeling without trying to fix it. In that space, in the willingness to just be with it and explore the feeling, the beliefs at play and the story that’s being triggered, I had a beautiful insight this morning during my meditation (the fact that I was on the beach might have helped).
With the sun shining on my face, my toes in the sand and the sound of the waves crashing in the distance, I settled into my meditation and for the first time since I arrived, I felt myself completely letting go and accepting where I was. As I dropped in deeper, I felt the release of some of the tension I’ve been carrying, and I realized that my feelings of unease were a direct reflection of my resistance to being here, in this new city, in the face of so much uncertainty.
By completely accepting where I was in that moment, I was finally able to be fully present to the awe-inspiring natural beauty of my surroundings and tune in to their calming and peaceful effect.
That’s when I was struck by the realization that the feelings I was having of not belonging were directly related to my lack of acceptance of myself. Let me say that one more time: any feelings we have of not belonging are a direct reflection of our inability to accept ourselves.
And so, in that moment, the answer to my prayer for peace came shining through in a calming whisper that touched me right at my core and said, “You belong to you.”
So today I will practice radical self-acceptance. I will love myself and accept myself right where I am, just as I am. I will embrace my imperfections and own all the things make me different, knowing that I am the one and only me.
And guess what? You are the one and only you, too. You belong to you. How can you love yourself more deeply today? How can you accept yourself more fully? How can you own your imperfections and embrace your uniqueness?
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Chris Assaad is a singer/songwriter and inspirational artist from Toronto who left a promising career in law several years ago to pursue his dream of a career music. Since then, Chris has been actively using his voice to enCOURAGE others to follow their dreams, express their creativity and live life to the fullest.