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Find Freedom In Who You Are

I finally realized after I turned 50 years old a few years, who I really am. It was a combination of the writer that I have been since ten years of age, and the martial arts I began to learn when I was 26. So many years of my life seemed to pass until I finally allowed myself to be happy about who I was and to fully engage my gifts and talents.

Does this story sound familiar? You may be in the midst of your life wondering if there is more, or why you do not feel fulfilled. Focusing on your roles in life may seem more like work than like living. I understand. I have been there, but not now. I have discovered that who you are is something deep inside. When I learned martial arts, and when I became a professional writer, every truth about me started to pour forth.

Martial arts have taught me so many incredible lessons, not just about kicking and punching, but about life. So much so, that I wrote a book to share some of these experiences, and then found the most fascinating thing! So many others had applied martial arts to their lives in moments of pain, anxiety, or difficulty, too!

The truth is, when you know what moves you on the inside, you can move mountains on the outside.

When someone asked me the question, “Who are you?” not long ago, it definitely required some pondering. I provided the reply, “You know, a mother, wife, martial artist, writer, friend,” blah, blah, blah. I did not take even a moment to think about it.  And, what I spewed off are the roles I play, not really who I am.  No, to get an answer to that very real question took a lot more thought.  I had to look a little deeper.  The meaning of who I am flows from these roles and perhaps landed me in these roles, but does not hold the key to what I  carry deep within.

So, I decided to delve a little further to see how I emerged into the person I am today. I suppose middle-age years are the time in your life when you question all the decisions you have made. It makes perfect sense that it is the time in your life when you look back to see how much you have grown, or how many mistakes you have made. Regrets tend to surface, too. But, as I thought about it I realized how far I have come. From a quiet woman in the back of the room, never willing to raise her hand first, stand out, or lead others, I have come very, very far.

It was martial arts and writing, my two passions, that brought all of my other roles into focus. Putting them together with a concise dose of positivity was just what I needed, and I was not alone. The world needs it. You need it. Changing the world for the better became my mantra, and I have never looked back since. I have never again questioned, “Who am I?”

Do not wait as long as I did to finally think about who you are.  It took me a lifetime to figure it out, even though it was as clear as day. I discovered that there is a part inside each of us that we deny.  It is often a gift that is meant to flourish in the world and touch others, yet we push it aside or hold back, for whatever reason.

I waited because of lack of confidence.  I waited because I wanted someone else to confirm it.  I waited because I was not sure being a writer meant anything.  But now, I realize the disservice I did to myself. I have finally embraced who I am and realize that it need not be confirmed or denied by anyone. That is the choice I make.

Take time now to think about who you are and to listen to the little voice that calls to you from within. Martial artist, writer, or whatever your passion, the intricacies of your heart hold the very important key to who you are.

So, who are you?  Strip away all of your roles for one moment and see what is left. Think about it.  Are you being true to yourself, giving yourself the credit you deserve?  Not the role you play, not the tasks you accomplish, but the very something that makes you who you are. Allow yourself to answer this question, and you will find freedom in it.




My new book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available. Purchase through my e-commerce store: or on Amazon:

This book shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives.

Unlike most other martial art books, the reader will catch a glimpse into the brave and empowered woman who dares to be all that she can be. Many of these women had to overcome great societal or personal challenges to break into the men’s world of martial arts. This book will motivate and inspire you to go after your goals in life and to fight through every challenge and defeat every obstacle. The Martial Arts Woman will open your eyes to the power of the human spirit and the martial art mindset that dwells in each of us!
Andrea F. Harkins is a writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at

7 thoughts on “Find Freedom In Who You Are

  1. Thank you, Andrea, for sharing these wonderful thoughts. Your article is just the timely reminder I needed today to step out and take some risks. The benefits of being genuine and not worrying so much what others may think far outweigh any hurdles and difficulties we face on our journey to finally be who we’re meant to be. I appreciate discovering others who are traveling parallel paths and have enjoyed your blog very much. :o)
    Be well…

  2. It’s a good thing to stop and examine your life. I was just asked to take the time and write out talks that I can be called upon at a given time to make a ten minute speech to our women’s group. I didn’t even know how to begin. It took me awhile to examine my own space and where I am in my own life. Then, I had to imagine if suddenly, a person were to start talking on a subject, what would catch my interest and what would I want to talk about. So, I started to do some research not just as a Catholic woman but just as a person. I started to write just page after page of nonsense and then I found something worth writing about. Just one topic. It was a hard one. I wrestle with it myself, time after time. So, I delved into the Bible, my son’s daily thought, Rick Warren, some others. I came up with a discussion with honest questions and answers that I think will be provocative and interesting. I have to give it to the president to see if this is the type of discussion she has in mind. If it is, I can continue. Maybe this is the type of leadership I was meant to do.

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