In today’s world it’s easy to see how we lose touch with our true selves. Under the weight of societal pressures, expectations and a culture of endless distraction it’s no wonder the truth of who each of us are often lays dormant and unnoticed. But it takes courage to look inwards and ask – who is my true self? When we start to look inwards it can be like opening Pandora’s Box. We inevitably encounter painful beliefs and fears which we realise have been unconsciously dictating the course of our lives. But if we are able to recognise these false beliefs and pause, we have the opportunity to respond and change the course of our lives to align with our truth and express the unique song in each of our hearts.
Rosie’s January newsletter landed in my inbox just as I’d taken a big step to move my life in a direction truer to myself. The content spoke of what I’d been experiencing and I am happy to share my story in the hope it may help others in some way.
One month ago, I made the decision to leave my job as a vet. Last July, after 5 years of study I graduated from my degree in Veterinary Science. Like anyone who’s undertaken one of the classic vocational degrees, it’s a decision that’s made early on in order to start collecting the checklist items universities look for: top grades, copious work experience and as many extracurricular activities as you can cram in to make you stand out. It’s not a task undertaken lightly. I never really knew what I wanted to do. Like many young girls I loved horses but, beyond the enjoyment of riding I was fascinated by the horse- human bond. There was so much to this connection, another dimension that I couldn’t describe but knew existed and held so much potential to help. However, ‘exploring the horse-human bond’ wasn’t on the curriculum and given I was deemed a ‘high achiever’ (by our educational measures) and I wanted to work with horses, I decided to go to vet school.
My time at university brought its fair share of challenges. As the years progressed the divide between what I wanted to do, and what I felt I ‘should’ do grew. As I explored this, I started to identify unconscious fears driving my need to achieve. I watched as I strived – it was like collecting the checklist items for university all over again, but instead of it being towards something I loved, I realised it was a mechanism to make me feel secure – my identity had become largely hitched to achieving and I was only just realising it. As I faced my fears and began to reconnect with the truer part of myself, the beliefs that had been fuelling my plight to do what I thought I ‘should’ began to loosen. It was during this time that I was drawn back to this idea of healing with the horse-human bond, particularly in an emotional sense. I had read and heard about horsemanship work and the use of horses with the disabled but I had no idea whether people were exploring the emotional and spiritual side of the horse-human bond. I decided to investigate and came across Rosie’s work. It immediately resonated with me and as luck would have it Rosie’s facility was just down the road from where I was studying, so I decided to sign up to a discovery day.
I was excited to see what the day would bring and prior to going made an intention to stay open to what the experience brought up for me on a personal level. Well, I think I got more than I bargained for! Surprisingly, the discovery day uncovered a huge wave of resistance towards the very thing I was so drawn to. I could hear this inner protesting voice that was totally opposed to exploring a different way of interacting with horses. On reflection this sub-personality bubbling to the surface might not have been so surprising. Just like with academic achievement, I had so much of my identity invested in the way I had traditionally interacted with horses that this part of me was terrified of moving in a new direction. When I investigated further, part of me was believing that I’d be judged by others if I started exploring the horse-human bond in this way and I wouldn’t be able to handle their rejection. My whole equestrian life up until this point had involved ‘doing something’ with horses, in the traditional sense. That underlying belief that I had to be achieving and ‘doing’ in order to be acceptable had resurfaced in a different context. My day with Rosie and her horses helped me gain perspective on this and provide the space to work with it. So thank you Rosie, Jack and Bramble for helping me to tend and befriend this part of myself.
Of course this work isn’t a one off (if only it was!). But, as I worked on myself, gradually the need to achieve and validate myself by external measures lessened, along with the drive to be a vet. In its place was the idea of giving people back to themselves through the way of the horse, quite how I will be of service to this I’m yet to find out, the path is far from obvious. The decision to leave my job was not easy. I’m faced again with parts of myself searching for ground and security. Where they once found it in the title ‘vet’ or a schedule of equestrian events, there is now uncertainty. It’s a shaky place to be but a month after the decision I am starting to reach a place of acceptance and learning to let go and trust the decision I felt in my heart.
Whilst my path looks set to be a meandering one, I am so grateful for where it has meandered so far. I may not be heading vet-ward but the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned and the support I’ve had from those in and related to the profession has helped me immeasurably.
Living a life true to yourself isn’t always easy. Finding your truth is one thing, then there’s the courage to take action. But once you touch the freedom and peace of mind that this way of living brings you, you realise you’d rather do the hard work than spend a life subscribing to the short term kicks of the false self.
Rumi puts it this way:
I must have been incredibly simple or drunk or insane
to sneak into my own house and steal money,
to climb over the fence and take my own vegetables.
But no more. I’ve gotten free of that ignorant fist
that was pinching and twisting my secret self.
The universe and the light of the stars come through me.
I am the crescent moon put up
over the gate to the festival.
Ruby Cox (firstname.lastname@example.org)