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watch it get real!

Christina Levy

photograph by estée janssens

photograph by estée janssens

when we're talking about self improvement, faith alone won't cut it. social psychologist, carl rogers, coined the term "self-actualization" to explain the meeting between two identities that we occupy in our lifetime. those two identities are the "actual self" and the "ideal self". the "actual self" in plain terms is the person that we are at any given moment. It is the real us, the one a colleague might describe if he was asked about who we are. the "ideal self" however, is the person that we envision ourselves to be. this is the person that we might describe when we are on job interviews or sitting at thanksgiving dinner with aunts and uncles whom we haven't seen in a while. if i might take this a bit further, the ideal self is our dreams, ambitions, and goals personified. this person lives in our imagination— it might have a form but its features aren't fleshed out enough to manifest in the real world. so, what happens is that we are stuck talking about who we are going to be, but our behaviors don't match.

christina, what are you talking about? my point here is that many of us fall in the habit of dwelling on an idea of who we are and can become without realizing that we have the ability to make that person a reality. we can actualize our ideal selves, making it a reality. this doesn't have to mean taking monumental steps in one day. it could be as small as sketching a five year vision board. when we see things in front of us, it becomes easier grasp.

write it down on real paper with a real pencil. and watch [it] get real.
— erykah badu

i was a part of a professional development fellowship while i was in college. it sought to prepare first generation college students for employment through rigorous workshops and connecting us with internships at well-known companies throughout america. when my time was winding down in the program, i sat with my mentor and we both put together five year plans in the form of a life map. we started with where we were, at the moment and imagined where we wanted to be in the next 5 years.  as i sketched my own map, i began feeling overwhelmed and anxious. should i even write all of this down? am i even capable of accomplishing any of this? who do i think i am? those were the actual thoughts running through my head. i was worried because the person who was writing the vision couldn't see how all of it was actually going to happen. however, i was taking an important step— i was making an idea tangible enough to see.

after we write it, we have to match the vision with our behavior. we cannot sit at home waiting for those goals to manifest when we continue doing the same fruitless behavior. after all, what's faith without the works to match?

a close friend of mine said something simple yet profound to me during my senior year of college that shook me to the core. i believe she wanted me to do something at my church but because i wasn't where i wanted to be in my relationship with god, i refused. she then said something along the lines of, "it's as easy as waking up in the morning and deciding to have a better relationship with him [god]." i read those words and wanted to get upset at her for not understanding me. i mean, she was basically telling me to do the thing i said i was struggling to do in the first place. great advice fam, i didn't think about that one. she was right though. so many times we think that the solution to our problems is supposed to come from something or someone other than us. it starts with us. we have to make the move towards that goal. we have to commit to changing our behaviors to yield the fruit that we want to see. no one is going to do it for us.

the only thing that is separating where we are right now and where we want to be is the decision to start. i found this video below by whitney white of a less traditional way to go about making a vision board. grab a few friends and have a vision board night in. actualize those plans by putting them on paper. once you see them in front of you, it becomes easier to make the necessary steps to complete. line up your actions to match your vision, then watch your ideal self and actual self become one and the same. 

peace, love and blessings.