Who am I?

We ponder that a lot when we’re young. Perhaps not consciously but the first several years of adulthood are often spent in pursuit of the answer to this question.

We seek ourselves in the music we listen to, the movies we watch, the people we hang out with and the places we go. We seek ourselves in an educational path or a job. We look for “the one,” our soulmate life partner. If we’re really following the map that was handed to us, we create the family. We acquire the stuff. If we go beyond the map, we try to find our “purpose.” Maybe we learn some more. Maybe we pursue spiritual awakening. We do all of these things expecting to eventually arrive at some grand destination where we’ll finally feel content, satisfied, peaceful.

Then, later in adulthood, we often find ourselves once again asking, “who am I?”

Somewhere in all of that striving and seeking we lost ourselves. Or maybe we never had a chance to actually figure it out because we were following someone else’s template for a good life. Maybe we were too busy avoiding our traumas with hard work, people pleasing, and running from pain.

The truth is, what we’re looking for is here the whole time. We’re not quite clay to be molded but an artifact to be discovered by digging through the layers we’re buried beneath. Those layers tend to expose different parts at different times. Like a cut gem, we’re multifaceted. We’re many things all at once. It simply takes time to see it all.

Contrary to what society tends to tell us, we don’t have to achieve anything to matter or to live a good, successful life. The lie to unlearn is that we’re on a journey that has a destination. The journey is the destination. With that, the “purpose” is simply to evolve, which is inevitable. You can’t not change. Life simply won’t allow it.

You don’t have to try to transform.

When I was younger, I worked so hard to become something. A better version of me. A contributing member of society. A wife, a mother, eventually a business owner. My sights were always set on some invisible horizon and I kept my head down as I trudged along to get… somewhere. To get to happiness, to contentment, to worthiness, to myself I suppose. Sure, I learned and grew and did, indeed, become an expanded version of myself. But there was never any need to be better

I was great and perfect even during my most imperfect, messy phases.

Now that time has stretched behind me I’ve looked up to find that horizon I was heading towards is no closer. I’ve discovered that there is nowhere to get to. I’m already at ME, which is perfect even in my current phase of imperfection. There is no relationship, no job, no financial status, no thing that will bring me closer to contentment than I am right now. So I might as well take in my surroundings and appreciate what I find here. The key is not to become something but to allow yourself to be your truest self. It’s lack of self love, not lack of “success” that impedes happiness.

Another lie to unlearn is that the surroundings, the current state of things, must be pleasant to be beautiful or valuable. So many riches lie beneath the surface of suffering. If you’re present and aware, you’ll find them in time. The more you strive to locate them, the more you devise plans to unearth them… the more elusive they will be. Stop. Pick your head up. Take in the scenery and simply BE. Your awareness will bring the riches you need.

I once believed that if I set goals and worked hard enough to achieve them I’d be rewarded. Which didn’t always happen. When things were harder and more confusing than I expected, I presumed there was something wrong with me. I’ve taken countless wrong turns, initiated too many false starts to count, made a big, fat fool of myself more times than I care to admit. Every time, I tried to understand what was wrong with me. I compared myself to others and wondered why I couldn’t do what they were doing. I got down on myself for failing.

I wasn’t failing. I was EXPLORING.

I had to explore to know what wasn’t right. Whether it be education, business, relationships, money, or whatever, it’s ok for it to be an evolution. That’s the whole damn point! Remember, life is messy. There’s no direct route to success. Achievement, a title, money and stuff don’t make you worthy or important. You already are worthy and important! No one is perfect. Nothing is perfect. So you might as well release some pressure and self judgment and simply appreciate the rocky, meandering path you’re on. Go explore! Wander around, get lost, fall on your face, get back up again and go explore some more!

It’s ok for life to be an evolution.

That’s the whole damn point 😉

With Love & Compassion,

Adina Arden Cooper

I'm a lover, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.