You were made for something that matters.
I have always envied people who know what that “something” is. I gaze in awe and jealousy at anyone with a singular talent. You know it when you see it. Someone doing the thing they were made to do. The friend who plays the piano with ease. The lawyer who is just the right mix of sassy and smart and compassionate. My sisters who seem to have been naturally gifted with mom skills.
I am not one of these people. I search. I claw. I ask unrelenting questions. I constantly doubt my choices. I want to do big important things but I have trouble doing the little things.
One of the questions I most consistently ask is this: Am I using my limited lifetime to show up fully with what I’ve got? Am I being brave and living on purpose or am I blindly walking through my days, checking off the list of shoulds?
- You should get up at a reasonable hour.
- You should have a “real” job.
- You should take care of yourself.
- You should never yell.
- You should always eat vegetables.
The shoulds are not all bad. Many of them we learned from an early age for our protection. But then we grew up. Or did we? Elle Luna writes “We unconsciously imprison ourselves to avoid our most primal fears…. our prison is constructed from a lifetime of Shoulds, the world of choices we’ve unwittingly agreed to, the walls that alienate us from our truest, most authentic selves.”
Do you dream of doing something brave? Do you know what your “something” is? Are you wondering “Why haven’t I…. Quit that job yet? Left that unhealthy relationship? Followed the passion I daydream about? Told that person how much I love them? Taken the first step toward that goal? Taken a day off just to breathe?”
Whether you know what your “something” is or, like me, you’re just looking to find the courage to live by design and not by default, I think the first step is an honest reckoning with where we are and the choices we make; The world of choices we’ve agreed to that have become the scripts holding us back.
Awareness precedes action.
When I think of really showing up in life, here are some facts I am aware of. Perhaps you can relate.
- I’m not entirely failing, but I’m not entirely succeeding either.
- I am sick of being disengaged.
- I wish I didn’t care so much what everyone else thinks.
- I’m terrified of failure and judgement.
While these are valid fears, they also point to the fact that I have chosen them. When it comes to living on purpose, using my limited lifetime to show up fully with what I’ve got, I must accept that I have the power to choose. I can choose to be disengaged or I can choose to be brave and risk failing. I can choose the status quo, or as an act of quiet rebellion I can begin to question the shoulds.
In the words of William James, “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.”
You were made for something that matters. Trying to figure out what that “something” might be? Me too.