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Following Your North Star:
An Exercise for Teens and Young Adults

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“You are in a boat that is being tossed around by
the winds of the world. The voices of your parents,
your teachers, your friends and the media can blow
you east, then west, then back again. To stay on course
you must follow your own North Star, your sense of
who you truly are. Only by orienting north can you keep
from being blown all over the sea.”

Mary Pipher wrote these words in her book, “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls”. However, it is a universal metaphor for anyone at any age. How do we stay true to ourselves when surrounded by such strong external influences? How do we know who we really are, at our core? Are we defined by our decisions? Our behavior? The image we project onto the world? Or do we get to choose?

Here’s some food for thought…

It’s not what you are doing that matters, but who you are being
when you are doing what you are doing.

Sound like a mouthful? Let’s take a closer look. When you are confronted with a challenge at school or work, who have you been being? Lazy? Whiny? Empowered? Creative? When you have a disagreement with your boyfriend or girlfriend, who have you been being? Antagonistic? Defensive? Generous? Communicative? Most of us don’t give this much thought. In fact, we tend to react to the situation on a case by case basis. Reacting to your situation is like being tossed around by the winds of the world. We are allowing circumstances to guide our boat. However, if you powerfully choose who you want to BE in the world and stay true to that, you will have the brightest star in the sky to guide your boat throughout your future.

So I invite you to ask yourself this question:

Who do I want to BE?

Here’s an exercise that can get you started. Take a moment and write down a list of your most important values. It could be compassion, respect, integrity, commitment, empowerment, kindness or self-expression. Try to include at least 7 of your values.

Now look at all of the areas of your life: family, friends, romance, school, career, etc., and ask yourself:

In what areas am I honoring these values? In what areas am I not?

You will probably notice that you feel the most dissatisfied and experience the most stress inside the areas where you are not honoring your values. Well of course! You are not beingthe person you truly want to be. Something is having you hold back, survive, fake it, or get through. And that doesn’t leave any room for fulfillment.

If you want the life you dream of, it starts with You. You make the choice. You take the step. You design the life that you want to have. Be true to your Self and your values, and follow your North Star. Soon enough you’ll find yourself living the life you know you were meant to live.

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