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  • Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

    “Waiting for my real life to begin” is the title and a lyric from a Colin Hay song. It seems to be a lyric that resonates with many of us, at many different stages and points in life. As we in Ontario stand at the beginning of the school March break, perhaps it resonates with us.

    For many of us, March break is a time with a sense of promise. We forge our way through week after week of routine and work, and then we arrive at this seeming…oasis! A week off! A week when we can perhaps do what we want, as families, and find some of those good times in our lives. 

    Photo by Darena Belonogova 

    This morning, I was sitting in a coffee shop. At a table near mine, a man was describing to his friend whom he had met for breakfast what life was like for him and his family. “The working days seem to last forever”, he related “but the weeks just scream by and are gone in a flash!” I think that many of us can relate to this description! It’s a very apt description of time at the period in family life when kids are young, but it describes many people’s experience at many different stages in life.

    It can so often feel to us like we’re endlessly wading through the obligatory parts of our lives. That we’re stuck doing the range of things we have to do to “pay our dues”, in one way or another, so we can just get through.

    So When Does My Real Life Start?

    Many people today see themselves as locked into dues paying mode in their daily lives. They’re endlessly waiting for a chance to live the way that they really want to live,  and to have the experiences that they really want to have. They may have very clear ideas and images of what it is that they want to have in their lives. Or, they may simply have an intense yearning for something that they can’t define, but that’s accompanied with a sense that it’s got to get better than this.

    It will not surprise anyone to realize that these thoughts and feelings are often part of an experience of some degree of anxiety and/or depression. How can someone come to terms with these feelings. What is the real life that we’re yearning for, and how could we possibly find it?

    It’s important for each of us to be clear on what real life is for us. We need that clarity in order to be able to find what we need, and to know it when we do. 

    How Will I Know When It’s My Real Life?

    How will I find my real life? How will I know it’s the life that’s specifically intended for me?

    Well, the following quote from Jungian analyst James Hollis points us in some key directions:

    We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being…. [W]e are here to become more and more ourselves.

    Hollis, James, What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life

    It might be easy to think of “my real life” in terms of what our culture calls “the good life”. That is to say, a life lived with the “right circumstances” in terms of wealth, working and living conditions, family circumstances, recreational opportunities and more. Yet Hollis’ interpretation of a Jungian perspective encourages us to look in a different direction,

    From this point of view, I’m living my real life when I’m becoming more and more who I most fundamentaly am, without apology. As I let that awareness and expression of my core identity govern my life, I am moving more and more into genuine life. As I move in this direction, according to Jung and Hollis, I will be maximally alive.

    Taking Hold of My Real Life, Now

    So, if I want to get into my real life, as opposed to “waiting for my real life to begin”, I have to begin to take hold of, and truly start to understand, who I really am. In a spirit of understanding, acceptance and compassion for myself, I have to really let in who I am, and what really makes me, me.

    This is not quite as simple a thing as it might seem at first! Yet it is something that we actually can do. And, if we do, it will start to change our lives.

    One good place to start is to think about the experiences and moments in our lives when we have been most fully ourselves, and when we have felt most fully engaged. Another very important way may be to engage with what is emerging from our unconscious mind, and the deepest part of ourselves. 

    Our dreams may be a very important way of engaging with this unconscious part of who we are. Properly understood, our dreams can properly incredibly eloquent messages from the deepest part of our identity. Working with a skilled and supportive Jungian depth psychotherapist may be of great help in this work.

    With very best wishes for your continuing personal journey

    Brian Collinson 

    Registered Psychotherapist and 

    Certified Jungian Analyst (IAAP) 

    Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

    © Brian Collinson, 2024