The Journey We Don’t Know We’re On

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journeyI had no idea that a journey of self-discovery and personal development would lead me to sobriety. I had no idea the amount of clarity and confidence I’d glean from looking to myself for answers instead of the world around me.

I know that in most aspects of life, we’re told to set a goal – a clear and specific goal – you imagine it, see all the details…because, at the end of the day, how can you map out the journey to your destination if you don’t know where you want to end up. What’s interesting, though, is that the times I’ve felt most productive and most in alignment with who I truly am, are not the times I was following a road map to a predetermined destination. They were the times when I set out to dig deep and discover the answers to unknown questions, determined to be aware and pay attention.

For me, personal development has been less of “follow the leader” and more of simply being open to what speaks to me.

Not to sound too woo-woo, but when we feel like there’s a path we’re supposed to be following, we can end up feeling lost. Being drawn away from the expected can feel like a misstep, but it’s not. The process is about being open to opportunity, open to exploring things that pique our interest and linger in our mind. Willingness to admit that we don’t know what we’re looking for, but knowing that we’ll feel it when we find it.
 
Sometimes we’re a lot like cranky toddlers. Desperately in need of something – a nap, a snack, a hug – but we don’t know what it is, and we don’t know how to ask for it. Once we’re in it – sleeping, eating, being hugged – we are almost immediately at peace. That’s what it means to be open to what’s in front of us. 
 
I spent a lot of years feeling like a cranky toddler… 
 
My personal development – that is to say, the work I did to understand and better myself (soothe the cranky toddler) – led me to resent the person alcohol made me while also giving me the confidence to stop drinking. I had no idea that sobriety was where I was heading, but I am certain it’s exactly where I am supposed to be.
 
I found myself writing more, doing this thing I’ve always loved, and it was not only calming and inspiring but also eye-opening to so many thoughts and beliefs I never spent enough time sitting with or contemplating. Writing helped me rediscover my voice, and the more I wrote, the more I was able to process and gain clarity in my thoughts and feelings, without the noise of the world around me. I started to believe the words I was writing, believe that what I had to say was worthy of being shared, and believed that these words could have the ability to reach someone else.

I have an essay that is published in an actual book. 

Those words feel surreal to write. As of September 1, 2020 I am, in fact, a published #1 bestselling author – the thing I’ve always wanted to be, but could never have imagined the path I took to get there. As I think about HOW exactly I got here, there’s a line from my essay that stands out, “When I’m listening to my own voice, things seem to unfold in my favor.” That is how I got here… that is how I’ve created my luck (though I’m terribly un-fond of that word).
 
So I ask, whose voice are you listening to? Are you creating space and opportunity for yourself to discover or rediscover who you are and what you need? I’m not saying to not set goals – definitely NOT saying that – but I am saying to be flexible with them. Listen to your voice and when you feel drawn to something, check it out…it might lead you to the unexpected things you didn’t know you need. 
 
September is National Recovery Month. If you’d like to read about my journey to sobriety and other stories of hope, despair, addiction, and recovery, check out The Addiction Diaries, available wherever you buy books (though I’m partial to the small local bookstores – and we have some great ones in Westchester).
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Lauren Schwarzfeld was born and raised in Yorktown, and aside from college in Boston and a few months living in New York City, she has spent her entire life in Westchester. She has lived in Mt Kisco with her husband Karl since 2006, where they have three kids, Mia (2008), Jacob (2009), Abigail (2012), and two dogs, Edna (a four-year-old beagle) and Felix (a one-year-old pitbull-lab mix). Lauren is a writer, coach, and leader in community engagement. She helps women rediscover their strengths, passion, and confidence to reclaim their spot in their life and step outside the box of perceived expectations. Her goal is for women to create a future that is authentically and unapologetically their own. As the Chief Operating Officer at (914) Cares, a local non-profit, she combines her business background with a passion for volunteer work and desire to care for the community around her. Connect with Lauren on Facebook or through her website!