Being Yourself “Just Who Will You Be” by Maria Shriver (Aug. 2008)

Susan's Thursday morning note August 14, 2008 
Being yourself (Maria Shriver's graduation speech)

Good morning!!  I am hoping this week that you are reading this from right here in Midwest Nebraska – for it seems almost like fall.  Absolutely beautiful – the mornings & evenings.  I love to know that God created the changes in our weather not only for our existence, but for our pleasure.  He delights in our basking in his creation.  All the “extras” that he added that didn’t need added scientifically – what he added just for us.  For us to hear him – listening to the funny-looking choir of cicadas.  For us to feel him…in the peaceful silence of the mornings.  What a week – to not have a choice but to look to the heavens – not only where our help comes from, but where our joy comes from…our peace…our realization of this all being only a second in the eternal scheme…  I’m not trying to ramble I just am trying to get across how observing God’s creation we get only a small glimpse of who we will someday know entirely when we get to heaven.  Our God.  What peace I receive when I notice his smallest details in creation – just for us.

I have a little book on my table by Maria Shriver written following a high school graduation speech she recently gave.  Just Who Will You Be?  Big Question.  Little Book.  Answer Within.  I believe that just having these little motivational books surrounding me in my home motivates me – for I can be completely engrossed in a situation, mentally…when I only have to glance at my table or bookcase to be given the wisdom from only the cover of the book by remembering the words in the book.  This is one of those small books that I found refreshing.  Here are the different excerpts that I marked, hoping that you will also be given the courage to continuously learn, continuously change, continuously seek to better yourself.

Excerpts from graduation speech by Maria Shriver.
I’ve learned that asking ourselves not just what we want to be, but who we want to be is important at every stage of our lives, not just when we’re starting out in the world.  That’s because, in a way, we’re starting out fresh in the world every single day…we might answer it differently in our twenties, in our thirties, in our forties, and beyond.  We can allow ourselves to keep changing and growing…

…my father told students, “Allow me to challenge you not to think so much about what you will do or where you will go.  Allow me to challenge you to think about…what you believe.” In other words, he was challenging them to look at what they believe, in order to find out who they could become. 

…you have a choice.  You can spend the rest of your life trying to measure up, trying to figure out and then fulfill other people’s expectations of you – or right now, you can make a decision to let all that go.  And you can start by talking about what you know, what you feel, and what you think.  You can start talking about just who you want to be…

A Hopi prayer: We have been telling the people that this is the eleventh hour.  Now we must go back and tell the people that this IS the Hour.  Here are the things that must be considered: Where are you living?  What are you doing?  What are your relations?  What is your water?  Know your garden.  It is time to speak your truth.  (I love that line – what is your water – know your garden…what refreshes me, Susan?!?!)

…Just who did I want to be?  The eternal fixes that had motivated me for so long – just didn’t work for me anymore…the true answer, I saw, is about my heart, my values, and my soul.  Who I am, not what I am…not others’ perceptions and expectations of me either.

I’ve learned it’s OK to change.  Sometimes it’s not just OK, but mandatory.  You can let go of some beliefs that maybe have served you well along the way, but just don’t work for you anymore.  We’re supposed to grow…we have to give ourselves the permission to stay open to change….not talking about throwing away our core principles and values and morals…just the opposite.  Talking about letting life’s experiences affect you and mature you…talking about going down deep and finding out where you’re at and where you need to go next. 

Changes…life intervenes…losing a job, people dying, new friends coming into our lives, going off to college or graduate school, new cities, children leaving our homes, interests change, want to learn something new…remembering old dreams and goals and deciding to now work towards them…or we’re just stuck.  Now the question – “Just who will I be?”

I now realize that everyone I’ve ever met in my life who’s interesting, who has a life of deep meaning and joy, is still open to new answers to that question, new opportunities for change and growth.  The change doesn’t have to be huge, but it may have to be deep…for me (Maria Shriver) mine was realizing I’d have to take the time to know what I feel, in order to know who I am and who I want to be…not so obsessed about whether I measure up to other people’s expectations, I’ve found a new gentleness and kindness in myself, for myself and for others.  What matters most to me now is what I expect of myself.  What matters most to me now is that I know myself – what my heart feels, what my inner voice is telling me…I’ve been amazed to discover I’m actually a nurturing and spiritual person who seeks joy, peace, and meaning in her life.  That’s who I am.  And Just Who Will I Be?…not the same…I will continue to live my faith…it can sustain me…I will continue to pass along my life’s lessons…that gives me joy.  You are the only person on this planet with your story.  What’s the point of being here unless you share it, pass it on, and help somebody else.  I will help my aging parents deal with infirmity and live with dignity…that gives me peace….most important, I will try to live an authentic life that feels true to me – which means living life as myself, not an imitation of anyone else, and not the reflection of myself in anyone else’s eyes…I will be a work in progress, for, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” – and I mean it.  Who I’ll be is up to me.  Same as it is for you.

I hope that some of those words help you to be you.  To become better at all that you’d like to be.  To not settle.  Go now – make today a day that you will look back on tonight and be proud of yourself.  Be proud of what you thought about.  Be proud of something you read to challenge your mind.  Be proud of how you spoke to others, how you used your hands gently, how you used your face to show kindness.  We can only try.  I’m sure if I gave you a running report of the realities of my day tonight you would be glad to see glitches every 10 minutes in my morning goal, but I do always retry!!!  I hope you have a great day – make it count.  This is the hour.  This is the day.  Make it one you are proud of.  Thank you for letting me enter your Thursdays.  Thank you for your encouragement and support of our store.  We love growing and being here for you.  Susan

Latin for this week:
astra castra, numen lumen "The stars my camp, the divine Spirit my light."

Works Cited:  
Shriver, Maria.  Just Who Will You Be?  New York.  Hyperion.  2008.