The Art of Self Discovery (and Why It Matters in Local Government)

Posted on May 30, 2022

julia roberts eggs

Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Maggie Jones – connect on LinkedIn and Twitter!

What I’m Reading: Just finished Book Lovers by Emily Henry, bookended with Octavia Butler’s Parables with a bonus of I’ll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein for fun. Who reads one book at a time anyway?

What I’m Listening To: 36 for 36 and an array of late night playlists on Spotify

What I’m Watching: Marc Rebillet’s YOUR NEW MORNING ALARM


“You’re having a Julia Roberts moment,” my friend kindly says, her voice full of warmth and caution.

“A what?” I ask.

“You know, in the movie Runaway Bride when (consequently) Maggie, Julia Roberts’ character, is accused of shapeshifting by Richard Gere because she doesn’t know what kind of eggs she likes. ‘You’re so lost, you don’t even know what kind of eggs you like!’”

I pause. A hard, but necessary truth. A Julia Roberts’ moment. The words hang in the air before I nod in agreement, a motion my friend cannot see over the phone, but understands.

Over the past several months, I had been on a journey of self discovery. I learned that I preferred light roast coffee (!) over dark, was not an Enneagram 2w3 as originally thought but a 1w2 (condolences to all), loaded scrambled eggs were my jam (at least I had figured out the egg question), enjoyed golf, loved a good contemporary romance novel, remembered how to ride a bike, bought a skateboard, embraced reading multiple books at a time, and found pure joy in teaching and mentoring. I had also discovered I was excellent at walking on metaphorical eggshells and absolute trash at self-care.

In local government – as we are often in many parts of our lives – we are often conditioned to go with the flow, to follow the road map that is put before us. Do this, not that. Say this, not that. But it comes at a cost and can bleed into the rest of your life. Shapeshifting harms us more than we know, from jobs to relationships and trust to time. For a while I didn’t even know I was doing it, until I got called out after a job interview. I had spent significant effort walking the tightrope between who I was and who I thought they wanted me to be. And ultimately, I had failed.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones writes, “We are all fighting battles with the world, systems, ourselves. Battles that are easy to lose. It’s so much easier to keep doing what feels comfortable. What feels safe. But then we might look up one day and realize that we’ve safety-netted ourselves into lives that feel like cages. Cages can get comfortable, but comfort is overrated. Being quiet is comfortable. Keeping things the way they’ve been is comfortable. But all comfort does is maintain the status quo.”

Self discovery, by definition, is the process of learning more about yourself and who you are, “stripping away that which is unimportant, reviewing core values, and seeking to live in greater alignment with these inner truths.” It’s hard and messy and complex and scary. It’s diverging from the assigned reading and replacing the story with blank pages.

Self discovery is the antithesis of the status quo.

I am not the same person I was at 17 or 23 or 35. I am not the same person I was six months ago. We humans are constantly evolving, growing, changing – and as we should. Would I make the same decisions now at 36 that I did at 21? I certainly hope not. I would have had different conversations and asked different questions, not been fearful of connection, detours, or speed bumps. But 17, 23, and 35 are all part of the billions of defining moments woven into this delicate tapestry and for that I am grateful for the pop of color.

This journey has not been without loss; after all, there are those that preferred Season 1. But Season 2 brought a new cast of characters and experiences, expanded knowledge and deep connection. Action! Suspense! Humor! Oh my! But also kindness, compassion, and vulnerability. It also meant the main character could no longer be left in a supporting role; who I am would need to take priority of who others want me to be. Better yet, local government work – this deeply human work – would be better off. Possible to genuinely connect without being human? I think not.

Luvvie (above) talks about the importance of an Oríkì, a Yoruba word that serves as “your personal hype mantra.” Even on our dark days, let us not forget who we are.

Queen of cheer. Mother of dragons. Task master in chief. Keeper of everyone’s shit. Tantrum tamer. Duchess of sunshine. Guardian of the outdoors. Drinker of afternoon coffees. Fierce protector of ohana. Princess of playlists and pep talks. Powerful problem solver. Little but loud. Wearer of many hats. Loyal royal and sassy sidekick.

So consider this a permission slip, postcard, warning, passport, love letter – whatever it needs to be – for you to bring yourself, all of your beautiful, amazing, wonderful self, to the table. To take up the space you’ve earned, to say the meaningful things you need to say. To imagine what if and to envision what’s next. It’s your tapestry, after all. And we could all use a pop of color.

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