I have spent a long time trying to figure out what I was doing with my life. I have been a bit lost for as long as I know. As a kid, I wanted to be a writer; I was absorbed in the books that filled my childhood. In middle school, I was wrapped up in church activities and evangelical Christianity. I was also wrapped up in an eating disorder that strongly colored my self-worth and my relationship with food and body image. In high school, I spent a year in France as an exchange student and then got lost in a few boyfriends. After school was no better, as I dropped out to get a GED, had a few kids, got married, got divorced, had more kids, got married again, got divorced again, and pursued several different jobs in multiple fields.
As a certified “grown up”, I feel like I should know what I’m doing by now. That I should have already found my mentors and my peer group and my life’s passion by now. I should have made it, right?
The fact is that, if we are open-minded and growing, we will have a path that may diverge where others stay straight. We will make mistakes, take risks, and correct our course multiple times over a lifetime. True growth may mean that our values grow and evolve to be more in line with our higher purpose. And that’s OKAY.
It’s taken me a long time to realize that I have way too many interests to fit into a 9-5 job. I am interested in everything from building websites to writing to fitness. I love painting and doing crafts and growing roses. I love learning about human biology and nutrition. I even enjoy playing MMORPGs and talking about information security issues. I am interested in so many things that it’s been very hard to pinpoint what it is I should do for a living.
What do YOU want
Part of my problem for a long time was that I focused on pleasing everyone else. I wouldn’t ever stop and ask what I wanted; instead, I would do what was convenient for those around me. I’d choose the career that I thought would please a parent or a spouse. I’d choose a field that was socially acceptable, or which would make me a bit more money. I didn’t ever stop to really assess not only my skill set, but what I enjoyed doing. It’s not enough to be skilled in a field – you have to have passion to really succeed. And that passion cannot be conjured on someone else’s whim. It comes only by being authentically you and doing what really matters to you.
Their Path is Not Your Path
The thing is, other people may be correct in their assessment that you can follow a path. But that doesn’t mean that the path they see is the best path. Only you can know what your perfect path is. For me, it’s writing about what I do and encouraging others to achieve their goals. For my boyfriend, it’s living magically and pursuing hypnotherapy. For another friend, it’s pursuing software development when everyone always shoves her into customer service.
The Ultimate Question
My boyfriend once told me his philosophy on life. He said,
“My time is precious. No one ever lies on their deathbed and says, ‘Gee, I wish I’d worked more hours.’ I want to live my life with the people that matter doing the things that matter.”
And he’s right. What matters to you? And why aren’t you doing it?