Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passed away this year. At the time Brene Brown shared a link to a speech Steve had given at a Stanford Graduation ceremony.
Steve is eloquent in his message. He needs no paraphrase. But his words caused me to reflect on so many things!
Steve dropped out of college but he hung around to learn.
I find this so inspiring since most of my life my sense of duty has stifled my joy in learning. I’ve mostly been too concerned about doing what I perceived was ‘good’, passing the exam and making people proud to truly embrace the joy of expanding my mind and my horizons.
I landed at university, with one of the highest OP scores possible and an absolute bundle of emotional hang-ups. I immediately felt so intimidated by an environment seemingly full of incredibly smart, together and worldly people that I forgot that I actually seemed to do quite well with my own brain before then. I was so overwhelmed that I coped out and rebelled.
My allegiance to the call of ‘doing what I think is expected of me’ remained intact enough to keep me passing my courses but I skipped lectures, partied (far too hard) and tried desperately to avoid my extreme sense of insecurity about my brain and my worth by delaying all study to the very last minute.
My joy at learning often popped up during that final week of cramming when I would discover course content for the first time. My fascination for physiology, child development and the miraculous powers of healing and repair inherent in the human body had only minutes to be savoured before they were overshadowed by my intense panic at the lack of time to memorise these wonders and the terror of failure, which would cement in me the belief I was so desperately trying to avoid – ‘That I’m just not good enough to acheive anything in life.’
Steve did it so differently and his story opens my heart a little to my grief at how much my own hang-ups have prevented my child-like interest in discovering new things.
By staying open to learning for its sheer enjoyment Steve stayed connected to his soul and his story highlights the benefits of trusting the wisdom of your soul’s passions (even if you don’t quite know where they will lead you!)
When he dropped-in on a calligraphy course Steve had no idea how his fascination for the art would fit into his future life or career. He just did it because he loved it. Later his knowledge of calligraphy would prove to be extremely helpful in his lucrative career. But when he attended the course he neither knew this nor cared. He simply followed his passion.
I find that God is teaching us this lesson constantly. He can reach us when we live in our souls – that passionate, creative, desirous part of our selves.
When we live in our soulful place He can Love us, Inspire us, and also Correct our errors far more rapidly. But when we hang back, always trying to get it right, to be perfect to figure it out before we begin, we lock up possibility, change and growth.
Trusting our passions and following them towards a destination we can’t see right now can feel risky, and sometimes crazy, but Steve’s example demonstrates how beautiful the process can really be.
Steve simply suggests “Find what you love and do it”
As I’ve mentioned my own life has most often lacked this kind of simplicity. Instead its looked something like this:
Find what I love -> Try to get everyone else to love it or at least approve of it before I’ll really go for ‘it’ -> Worry that I’m not good enough to succeed at ‘it’ anyway -> Try to find a small achievable version of ‘it’ so I’ll be ‘safe’ while I try to live a happy life -> Worry (some more) that no-one will get me or ‘it’ and I’ll end up all alone -> Agonize that I really want to do ‘it’ but I’m just not capable or good enough and so on and on… you get the picture..
I see now that there is so much power in simply doing ‘it’. Yes, sometimes my fears will be realized, it may not go perfectly, but I will be engaged in a thing I love.
And besides, there is nothing like facing a few fears to change our perspective and help us grow!
All of my anxiety, self doubt and need for approval has limited my life so much. I have wanted to be perfect before I began (mainly so I could hold onto the false idea that that way everyone would still ‘love’ me).
Now it feels like such a waste!
So as this new year approaches, I’m trying a new tack. I’m finding what I love and charging towards it, full of the knowledge that this way God is going to reveal to me both my errors and strengths. So far its hair-raising but also, in sweet moments, breath-taking in its beauty.
As Steve suggests “You are already naked”
This past year I’ve focussed much prayer on a desire to become more real. But honestly I’ve still been grappling with the ‘good girl’ facade I’ve worn (with varying degrees of success) for most of my life. Its been tough to let go and see how much of ‘me’ I’ve generated in order to feel safe and ‘loved’.
What I’ve learned is that the biggest thing I’ve lost through investing in how I’m viewed, in trying hard to be liked, is my connection to myself.
What I have perceived as the worst thing there is to loose, i.e. the approval of others, has caused me to loose my own perspective, my knowledge of myself and what I love and want. My life has been crowded with the desires of others and none of my own.
I’ve come to see that living emotionally ‘naked’ takes courage (at least for me) but that it is so, so worth it. There is rest to be found once we step off the fast-paced treadmill of always trying to maintain a facade.
To me living ‘naked’ means no longer denying my desires and dreams in an attempt to avoid shame, fear or rejection. It means honouring my feelings and my self in my relationships with others, not suppressing them in order to make everyone happy or to avoid my own fears and embarrassment.
In a naked life I am unapologetic in living in a way that I believe in. I don’t shy away from my hopes or disappointments. I don’t hide my light under a bushel, nor do I make out I’m prettier/ more accomplished/ more together/ wiser than I really am.
The truth is that we are already naked in the eyes of the One Who Made us. There is no point in hiding who we are or what we really want. Entering a relationship with Him requires our humility, our willingness to be ‘naked’. For only when we see ourselves as we truly are, in our truth and error, can we be Shown a way to grow towards Him once again.
Bless you Steve, may your adventures in the spirit world (where we are indeed naked) be rewarding and full of new invention!