‘Oh man, you’re brave,’ she said. 

I didn’t feel very brave. I’d just confessed that I hadn’t done the job I was meant to do and more importantly, why I hadn’t done it. I thought it was morally wrong as well as a waste of time. So I hadn’t done what I’d been asked to do and now I was paying the price for pretending. But I have always been brave in the art of honesty and confessing.

‘Brave would have been saying no and what I thought in the beginning, I think,’ I replied ‘instead of pretending like I was sometime going to get around to it.’

‘Maybe. But it doesn’t change how brave you were in the last five minutes. You just faced it head on. I couldn’t do that, whether I was in the right or the wrong.’ 

Maybe it was that I thought I had nothing left to lose but she was right, I was brave. I am brave.

Brave is not all of me, but it is a significant part. And when she said it, I recognised myself in a dozen different instances from age 4 to 19 years old. The brave girl who has learned to say what she thinks. 

If your True Self is a muscle that flexes at a mere trigger, you feel the energy that displaces as soon as that muscle engages. Recognition. You recognise yourself in the moments you think and act out of your Truest nature. Our most True Self is the one who emerges when we are free to form our own shape instead of pushing ourselves into other shaped boxes.

Important side note: there is a difference between what feels familiar and what we recognise. We are drawn to the familiar because it feels known, we see patterns we know and out of habit, we understand how to respond and operate within that system or construct. Often these patterns of familiarity draw us back towards what has been, rather than what might be. 

Recognition is as precise and distinct as a puzzle piece, with only one place that precise shape and colour way can fit. A distinct and necessary part of the puzzle that is you. Your life is the same – the tasks and situations that my hands were made for, where my voice has the most resonance, where my words make sense.

  • the action or process of recognising or being recognised, in particular.
    synonyms: identification, recollection, remembrance
  • identification of a thing or person from previous encounters or knowledge.
  • acknowledgment of something’s existence, validity, or legality.
    synonyms: acknowledgement, acceptance, admission
Lately, I’ve been recognising myself again. In moments of a little freedom or when back in wide open spaces – the brave, courageous girl comes rushing back out. I have to be brave again, because being my brave self is key to getting back on the path to my life.

The girl who wants to change the world. She is fully connected to her wisdom and knows that her voice resonates and travels on the wind to the far corners of the earth. She feels the permission of the universe to be Other and her otherness is empowering. She feels engaged to her sensual, epicurean self. She has been leaning into her True Self wherever she recognises her and remarkably, it feels like the world is leaning in towards her too. 

I’ve gone on a journey the last few years of trying to follow a script that isn’t my own. Granted, I’ve followed it in my own weird way but here I am, with a list of lessons and skills I’ve learned and an aching heart to get back to being myself.

The Brave within me is relentlessly hammering at the cage of my skeleton, the muscles flexing to make themselves known.. there is more. Not more success or more fame, more fortune (in fact, that is the least likely outcome) but more of ME. There is more of myself waiting to come out and be useful, meaningful and beautiful in the world.

Perhaps it was Mother Superior in The Sound of Music who said it best: ‘You have to live the life you were born to live.’

So I’m listening to myself, recognising the Brave and letting her be, Myself. True Self. Steve Jobs once said ‘Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.’ I think Steve was right. I know who I want to become and I have some ideas about the how and what and the why.

Embracing again, a truth I have always known and recognised a dozen times as it has come to me – I’ll make my own way through this world, not bound to follow a path or a script written by anyone else.

That’s how you know you’re recognising it – because your instinct is to lean into the spaces your True Self fills. And the more of your True Self you lean into, the more of your False Self you fall out of. 

That is the life I recognise. The one my heart and intuition knows. Once you begin to recognise yourself and give voice and space to that person, you begin to recognise your life. It happens all at once; a collusion of what is happening within us and around us and all we have to do is pay attention to what we recognise.

My body knows. There are some people I am naturally drawn towards. It’s easy to share affection or to want to be close. There are others I don’t want to touch me at all. My body knows who belongs and who doesn’t and I let my body tell me, all the time. I follow her instincts and she does not let me down.

My heart knows what matters most and if I’m not paying attention, it will bang away inside my heart cage of rib & lung until I listen and spend some time there.

My spirit and soul know when I am my True Self and when I am not. They war against me when I stay too long inside a box that’s not for me. They stretch out for the open spaces constantly. They have been warriors within me and for me these last few years as I have been learning. Now they are clamouring and dragging my attention back to the path.

The body knows. The heart knows. The spirit and the soul knows. Recognition has us instinctively leaning in. Our self whispers ‘more of that, more of that, more of that’.

You recognise your life sometimes before you know you have it; reaching effortlessly for the pieces that belong. The places and the people who fit just so into your puzzle pieces and before you can blink, you are living and fully alive.

That’s how you know you’re recognising it – because your instinct is to lean into the spaces your True Self fills. And the more of your True Self you lean into, the more of your False Self you fall out of.

I have recognised fragments of my life a dozen times over. Places, moments and people who have fit into the puzzle, tasks that have been my truest self, lessons that have refined me not restrained me. I hold on to them, I’ve let them become anchors because I know they fit. I haven’t always known how and I don’t pretend to now. But I know they belong.. I recognise my life when I see it.

There are times I’ve mistaken familiarity for recognition.. but those things have just been a shadow, a watercolour of my true life. I’ve quickly learned to let them go but not without pain. It’s the dream we chase because we know we need to chase it, even though the first, third and fifth attempts might fail. We persevere and strive towards the life we recognise, the one we are writing for ourselves.

So here is the lesson, here is the big Brave of this next step in the journey. Recognising my true life and when I see it, leaning into it. 

(the opening image credit belongs to David Hayward, whose art has been a constant companion and source of wisdom in my journey)