I am the rulebook.
I used to not be able to make decisions without asking at least five of my friends what they would do first. Making decisions without doing that felt like an act of rebellion, an inconsideration for the brilliance of those I surrounded myself with. Don't their opinions and experiences matter just as much as, if not more than, my own? What if they have insight I never might've considered myself?
I preoccupied myself with doing the "right thing" - but for whom was it right? I definitely didn't know, but I was dead set on trying to figure that out. I tried on many different models in the meantime - the ones I learned from my family, my mentors, the ones I adopted from the places I've lived, the ones I picked up from media and friends, and even the doctrines of various communities I've been a part of.
I've been through a half dozen relationships where, without recognizing it while it was happening, I totally lost touch with myself. It's not that I became my partner, but I would get so wrapped up in their experience of the relationship that I'd completely forget about mine. I'm pretty sure I didn't even know I was allowed to have my own experience - or that that even mattered in the grand scheme of things.
Over the years and throughout this journey, I've burned many a rulebook as I've replaced them with new rulebooks, until it finally dawned on me:
I am the rulebook.
My work in this life has always been, at the core of all the things both great and small, the art of self-discovery. Sometimes that art is messy and really fucked up and defies logic, sometimes it's beautiful and inspiring and broadly influential, and so long as that's the path I'm always on, I know it's the right one.
Sometimes I want to be arrived already, and of course the further down this path I get, the clearer I am that the only thing I could ever possibly know is who I am, and that that journey is a lifelong, perpetually unfolding, relationship.
There is only the present moment, and the anchoring into the right now, with me, myself, and I. And the byproduct of that is my connection with everyone else. The latter improves because the former does.