Where Do You Belong?

I remember that day so clearly. I was with my partner in a park nearby our apartment. We were enjoying a typical Irish summer, which meant warm hoodies and rain jackets. While we were talking about life, I mentioned the love for photography I had as a child.

It was somewhere around 2004 when mobile phones came into our lives. I got my first approximately two years later – a flip phone with a 0.3 MP camera. I would spend hours taking photos of flowers and other natural wonders. I remember feeling so grateful and proud for being able to capture such beauty and do something I wasn’t able to before. Those now ridiculous 0.3 MP were back then a source of huge fascination and joy.

A few years later I just stopped taking photos. I thought there was no reason behind it, it sort of just happened. While writing this, I realized I never really questioned why it happened.

One particular memory stands out – years ago a teacher asked me about my photography practice and what do I take photos of, to which I replied, ‘mostly self-portraits’. In the class, this was followed by what seemed to be the biggest laugh in my life.

I never gave much thought to it, but now I see that must have been a turning point for my photography, or better said, a lack of it. It must have been so painful for me back then that I repressed that memory, told myself I wasn’t hurt by it, how it’s not important, and convinced myself that deserting photography came naturally to me.

I remember getting flashbacks of that specific moment years later and experiencing so much cringe and pain – cringe because I let their opinion of how taking self-portraits was a superficial thing become my own; painful because deep down I knew how much it meant to me and how the practice I was having was nothing close to how they saw it. Somehow, I always justified those emotions as having a hard time accepting I said something as silly as that.

To get back on the conversation I was having with my partner, I kept talking about how I love photography and wish to get back to it one day and buy a camera, with a strong emphasis on ‘one day’. Being the support he always is, he just said: ‘Why don’t you buy it right now?’

My whole being lit up as soon as I heard those words.

Still, it took me a while to let that thought sunk in.

It was the first time in my life that I could afford to buy DSLR, so I had a hard time making a decision. At first, I thought money was the issue – being too protective of it because I’ve never invested that much into anything. While a scarcity mindset played its role, the real issue lied in a belief of not deserving to practice photography. Somewhere in the back, my mind was still giving so much attention to that hurtful experience.

Looking back, I realized how all those years my inner voice kept sending me signals and messages to get back to what I loved the most. I was so deaf to it that I had to have another person say the words that were lingering around me for so long.

What happened is that on that day many years ago I gave my power away to another person. Being stuck in the same mindset, it makes sense how what I needed now is a confirmation from an outside source that I’m deserving of coming back to it.

A few days later I was in Grafton Street buying my first camera, and just thinking to myself: ‘What took me so long?’

No matter what I’d tell myself about the relationship I had with photography, how hard I’d convince myself it wasn’t for me, I was never able to be less drawn to it. It would always somehow find a way back to me.

You can never kill the truth. No matter how great the reason you might think you have against it, she’ll always be standing firmly on the ground.

A big part of me still feels the same way I did all these years – like I shouldn’t be practicing it. But I also understand those are all narratives I bought in by society.

I understand I have the power to choose something else.

I have the power to choose what I believe in.

I have the power to choose what I focus on.

If I quiet my mind and all the different stories it plays, when I tune into the feeling that radiates from within my core, I can hear my true self. That voice is so strong, so vibrant. It is not threatened by something like self-doubt or fear. It fills my chest with peace and stillness. It feels warm. It feels like home.

Intuition never lies. It might be the only truth we can rely on.

It may not be as loud as fearful thoughts, but it doesn’t make it less potent.

The truth is written in our bodies, in the smallest parts of it. Our mind can convince us of something else, but our body can’t unlearn the truth. That’s why even though my mind worked so hard to create that story, my body knew the truth and continuously kept showing it to me in various ways.

In a way, as kids, we know ourselves more than we do as grown-ups.  

I think how whatever we were drawn to as kids are what we’re ultimately here for. It doesn’t have to be in the same form, and it often isn’t, but our childhood holds important pointers.

Think about it – as a kid, you don’t have all these crazy expectations put on to you, you’re not choosing what you’ll be doing based on how profitable it is, what’s the status you’ll have with it, or some other ego-driven goal. You just go for the things that feel the best to you, that you resonate with the most, and make you feel yourself when engaged with it. You let your intuition guide you.

That’s why we should look into the first years of our lives and see what occupied our minds the most. What I mean by ‘the first years of our lives’ is the time before we started to be so preoccupied with what we should do, and were in at least some way expressing ourselves freely and doing the things based on what feels the best for us.

Try to look for patterns and the possible meaning they might have.

If you’ve been creating loads of things with your hands, consider crafts to be your thing.

If you’ve been spending most of your time enjoying physical activities, maybe you should get back to some kind of sport, or start learning martial arts, or dance – whatever you’re drawn to the most.

Maybe you enjoyed reading books and always admired writers, but never let yourself consider writing something of your own. Try putting some words on the paper, maybe just thoughts about writing, and see how it feels.

Maybe you were always asking questions and chatting to people, but others labeled you as being ‘too much’, so you pulled back. What if that’s your biggest virtue and you were meant to use it to help people? Maybe coaching is your thing or sharing insights and knowledge through podcasts.

I‘m not sure if there’s a better feeling than doing what you feel you are meant to. Choosing to follow your inner voice, your intuition, unlocks so much strength in you that you never even knew you had. Even if that decision automatically brings new challenges, and many of them are the hardest you have had to face so far, you will still feel incredibly strong. Even if shaking when thinking of doing that uncomfortable thing, you will still hear your intuition say quietly, ‘go for it’.

It makes sense – if you are doing and being what you were truly meant for, you’re unlocking your highest potential, and every cell of your body lights up. They unite because they were designed to support you in doing exactly that – unlocking your soul’s calling.

If you are an artist working in a corporation, no matter how hard you try, your true potential will never be activated because your body knows the truth – it holds the truth within it. Your mind can take any narrative you expose it to and easily convince itself how you were meant for that certain thing. But you can’t lie to your body, you can’t convince it because it doesn’t conform to the mind.

Remember that feeling when you’re entering the building where you work the job you don’t enjoy, and as soon as you see it or enter it, your body gets all tensed up? I think it’s our body’s intelligence letting us know we are not where we belong to.

I feel like our intuition is the fuel with which we were designed to operate and go through this life. You can use other fuels, but your full capacity will never be unlocked that way. The wrong fuel might get you going for a while, but on the inside, there is so much resistance which slowly, over time creates so much damage.

I’m sure that’s what happens to people you can see on streets or in your life, the ones who seem like life took the best of them. In a way, they look like empty shells just doing one chore after another. Of course, they are not empty, they are bursting with beautiful potential that never stops waiting to be discovered, but they haven’t even scratched the surface of it. They dedicated their lives to the complete opposite of what their true nature is.

When you live aligned with your purpose, you don’t get used up; instead, you get filled up. You get more and more of the good stuff – joy, fulfillment, creative energy, awareness, purpose, sense of belonging, health.

It is not easy to decide to follow your intuition. I can’t even think of how many times I’ve cried my eyes out when faced with the reality of how far from my true self have I been living. I still am, in many ways. It takes time to learn the language of intuition and to translate it back into this world.

It’s also not easy to live by what your intuition tells you in a system that did its best to numb out our ability to hear it.

Living just the first few years of my early adulthood by following somebody else’s path has already proved to be incredibly detrimental for my whole being, that I’ll always choose the struggle that comes with following my own path.

We are not doing a favor to ourselves or anyone by giving the power over our lives to others. We are being inauthentic, and it will come back to us sooner or later. We are going against our own nature, and it just can’t work out well.

All the answers we need are inside of us. The mind loves to trick us into thinking it’s the other way around and we end up failing to see the power our bodies hold.

The outside authority can never overpower our inner authority. We can treat it in the worst ways possible, ignore it our whole life, repress it, ridicule it, shame it, but it simply can’t be touched by that.

It is written in us and all over us.

It is a part of us.

If you want to know or make sure you are on the path that was meant for you,

if you already feel you aren’t and need guidance,

listen to your inner voice.

The one that comes from your heart, not head.

For a moment, let go of everything you were taught.

What is it that you love to do the most?

You’ll know the answer by a feeling.

It will be a warm, quiet, and peaceful place.

A sense of belonging.

Now tell me, where do you belong?

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