When you’re young everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up. But what if what you secretly want to be is important — important to your family, important to your friends, and important to strangers? I know what you’re thinking — that this is a sad way to live life. However, unfortunately it’s all too common — wanting to ‘arrive’ and never feeling quite there. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who was born knowing or perhaps you’ve had a rather traumatic event that put life into perspective early, somedays can feel like being stuck in the midst of a nightmare you can’t wake up from. For me subconsciously that’s looked like be born (check), get good grades (check), go to good high school (check), get in good college (check), get good job (check), get married and have kids that are better than you — and then it just stops.
Every so often I get spinning and lost in the humdrum of feeling both busy but oddly good completing task after task and when I lift my head up I don’t entirely know who or what I’m doing it for. This week I had one of those moments and I paused and sat with the feeling and noticed that I was chasing after being good enough, being acknowledged (and I couldn’t even begin to tell you by whom) but ultimately just feeling okay. Within the safety of a decent paying job I felt a moment of angst wondering how many years I’ve spent actively chasing everything and nothing in particular at all. I ask myself what happens if I don’t decide now that I’m already okay and that I’m already good. What will happen if the anticipated voice that will say, “You’re Okay,” isn’t mine? Will I always be chasing good?
So as year 20-something approaches I’ve decided I’m recommitting to the journey of choosing what kind of life I want to live, and both discovering and rediscovering the people I want to love, and uncovering the problems I want to solve. Actually screw that last part. I don’t really want to solve problems I want to find the ways that I can add to the world and support people. I want to accept what is and quit trying to change the things that simply are.
If you’re on this journey like me I encourage you to reflect on the messages you’ve received about what you’re supposed to be doing with your life (and when you’re supposed to be doing it). Ask yourself these five questions and then choose for yourself today, consciously — a life worth living.
1. What’s your story of ‘good’ and ‘okay’? Where does it start and where does it end?
2. If you’re able to identify things you think you ‘should’ be doing ask yourself whose voice is telling you that you should or should not do something? What is the earliest moment you can remember this feeling?
3. Choose which of the messages or voices that you’ve identified are worth keeping. Take what you like and leave the rest.
4. What does a beautiful life well-lived look like to you? If nothing comes to mind consider how you want to feel and whom you’d want to share those feelings or experiences with?
5. On Career: Many a life coach recommend asking yourself which problems you want to solve but if you’re feeling that this phrasing is a bit cliché try this. Reflect on the moments that you’ve received push back or heard that something can’t be done but yet you felt strongly that it could be done and in fact that you were the right person or could find the right people to make it happen.