The Softer Side of Self-Awareness: A Reflection on the Day of Atonement

My mom did her Masters in Comparative Religion. Since English was her second language, she asked me to proofread her papers, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This fostered in me an appreciation for world religions and an affection for my own. Judaism has its drawbacks but holidays are not one of them. And tonight is the Eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest of holi-days.

While not as festive as the others, it contains one of my favorite pastimes — introspection. There’s no eating or drinking or working - just 25 hours of deep reflection - a self-awareness enthusiast’s dream come true.

That said, self-awareness comes with a price. It brings with it the knowledge of the parts of you that you would rather hide, and underplays the ones you would likely show off. It carries around the understanding of how imperfect you are, and downplays the parts of you that are brilliant. It brings about great empathy and concern for others, often sacrificing being of service to yourself. It allows for easy access to the parts of you that are willing to forgive, less so for the parts of you that are in need of forgiveness.

Self-awareness can be a gift of insight and intuition, but it can also be a little rough.

This year, I am practicing the softer side of self-awareness. Practicing being aware of just how kind I am, how loving I am, how tolerant I am, how generous I am, how patient I am, how joyful I am. This year, I am practicing knowing all sides of myself - not just the sides that sit in the dark and are uncomfortable to acknowledge, but the ones who sit in the light and often get ignored. This year, I am forgoing forgiveness, repentance and absolution in exchange for critical self-care, unconditional kindness and a permission slip for however I am feeling in the moment.

This year I am taking a pass on being judged, judging myself to be whole and good just as I am. This year, I am taking a pass on atonement, trusting my kind self to have done her best in every situation.

I wish you all a year of softness in your awareness, your care and your conversation with your very sweet selves.

And for those who celebrate, I wish you an easy fast and G’mar Hatima Tova.