Andrea Balt is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Rebelle Society. She resides in Madrid, Spain. Ms. Balt has an MFA in Creative writing and is a Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor.
On a particularly difficult Thursday in July, my Boss at Crime Victims Assistance Center in Binghamton, NY sent her advocacy staff an uplifting reminder about the importance of knowing who you are. “Andrea Balt wrote this piece on the occasion of her 30th birthday, but the questions she posed are worth considering at any age.” I trust that my boss has a keen insight into such things for a number of reasons; she is a student and teacher of Stephen Covey’s principles on leadership, and she encourages us to use those principles in our every day search for our own capacity. We do this in order to better serve our victim-survivor clients.
Andrea tells us in her diatribe, “By now, I’m good at both fighting and disappearing. I’m old enough to be acquainted with life’s darkest and most elevated places, and young enough to take more. But there’s no merit to either, fighting or flying, if they don’t come as a result of one’s deepest truth. When fueled by fear both responses are cowardly, both are equally wrong.” So, Andrea gives us questions to ask ourselves before we die so as not to become strangers to ourselves. Below are just a few.
1. How much have you loved? If your answer to yourself, from within the deepest part of you, is not enough; then get busy. First define what loves means to you, make a list of who and what you love, and then act on it every day.
2. What do you love doing that you aren’t doing? The cost of working at a job you don’t love or at least feel good about can be devastating. Stress, depression and the loss of the most simplest of human rights—the pursuit of happiness—can wither the human soul, spirit, karma, or whatever is the essence of who you are as a person. Figure out what’s holding you back. If you come up with statements that involve other people, then you need to sit down and consider how your life decisions really affect others. If your pursuit of happiness destroys them in some way, they are hurting you. Let them go.
3. What person or type of person would you choose as a life companion? I adore Stephen King as a writer because he has such insight into the human psyche. I actually thought if I was ever stranded on a desert island and could choose someone fascinating to entertain me it would be Stephen King. Then I met him. He’s just an ordinary man with some annoying habits and a tendency toward profanity. I still enjoy his work but don’t want to spend any time with him personally. My point is (as extraneous as I may have put it), a life companion is someone whom you love and who loves you back.
4. Where do you want to live? The world is an inspiring place. If you don’t feel a deep connection to the geography, the people, or the climate where you live, you’re not in the right place. Andrea says, “Some places are more in tune with the kind of life that comes bursting out of you…nothing is more inspiring and motivating than good company and an environment that reflects and supports your mission.”
5. (This is my favorite.) What is your cosmic elevator pitch? “Not your job description, professional bio, resume, About page. In short, who are you—raw, unedited, wild, ordinary and extraordinary?” Do we even know ourselves like that? I believe many of us live, love, work and play hard in our relationships much of the time. Why not allow an intimate, adventurous, exciting experience within the core of who we are? “Aliveness,” Andrea says, “is the one virus you always need to catch…and you must pay inspiration forward. It’s contagious and fuels you. [People] mirror each other for better or worse. It’s how it goes with humans.”