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Knowing Thyself vs. Knowing Thy Facts
This past weekend I met up with a friend from my Senate days to unwind and to sip some yummy warmth at a tea cafe in downtown DC. As we caught up, we engaged in a conversation about the importance of community, the importance of surrounding yourself with people who help you be your best self, and our thoughts on this city we’ve both found ourselves in. She had a great insight, so great, that I had to share with all of you!
Her insight was (and I paraphrase): people in DC (and major cities like DC) put most of their time and energy into work. What that means is that they really know their stuff. They can spit off facts, throw out names, tell you the latest scandal or news story with ease. But what that also tends to leave is a void. A void in them truly knowing themselves. Because to truly know yourself–who you are, the type of person you want to be and why–requires time and energy and space. Mental space, physical space, the space that nature provides, the space that silence provides, the space that other people on a similar journey also provides.
Goodness gracious, she was so right. I have struggled to articulate just why after almost four years DC still doesn’t feel like home, but after 4 months NC did. And I think her observation is part of the reason why. Knowing thyself vs. knowing thy facts. In NC, I and many of the people around me were focused on knowing thyself, and after acquiring that knowledge put the practices in place to be that self. In DC, it’s been much harder for me to consistently engage in this practice and to find people on this similar path (although I definitely have been fortunate to find some!).
And let’s be clear, this is not me throwing stones at glass houses. Quite the contrary, actually. This is me admitting that I, too, in this fast-paced, work-centric context have tended to focus on the acquisition of skills, positions, facts–sometimes to the detriment of what I could (and feel like I should) be focusing on–my health, my fitness, my fresh fruits and veggies, my need for creative outlets like cooking and dancing, my need for true connection, and being a true introvert, my need for downtime. Ah, yes, lots and lots of downtime.
In a city like DC, downtime is implicitly, or at times explicitly, shunned. What? No plans? No happy hour? No brunch? What? You’re just taking a walk to relax? You’re not running a race for a cause? What, you don’t want to work nights and weekends? What a nap? What? What? What?
Well, there’s no time like the present (or a holiday break and the coming of a new year) to partake in some deep contemplation, assessment, and recalibration. And I am looking forward to doing just this. I’m looking forward to opening up the space to get in touch with the best me I can be, and most importantly the best steps I can take to cultivate that me.
So, with that folks, have a great Monday and happy holidays!!!