"Don't ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
~Attributed to Howard Thurman
If I look back on my life, there have been a lot of things that I’ve been involved in, paths I’ve attempted to pursue to figure out my purpose in life and determine where I can shine most brightly to be of the most beneficial impact as part of the greater good.
I don’t believe that this is an ego-driven kind of thing, although there are certainly elements of my past mixed in with the present, as in, I was told frequently while growing up that I wasn’t good enough, so I’ve spent my conscious moments as a teen up until now aiming to supersede expectations, where being average was simply unacceptable. I used to look for recognition and outside affirmation, but now, it’s more that I must — without question — live my truth. Living any other way feels suffocating and intolerable, as though I’m covered in swaths of an incredibly itchy fabric I’m allergic to, that’s causing hives on my body and my throat to close up.
When I’m displeased, I do one of two things: I shut down and become very noticeably silent, or you can see all of my feelings on my face. Oftentimes, it’s both blended together.
Over the past few years, I’ve moved from working with corporate clients in marketing to freelancing, then to travel writing where I’ve lived, volunteered and worked around the world. I became a yoga teacher and a Reiki Master practitioner. I built a Karma Yoga program to bring free classes and services to underserved populations in the San Diego area. I built a private wellness business and led corporate classes. I began to blend my strategic marketing and copywriting services with my wellness focus. And now, here I am, in a new space and a new place in my life to begin another new adventure.
As long as I can see everything as an adventure, opportunities to learn more about myself, I won’t feel like there was any wasted time or divergences or distractions that took me away from what, somewhere deep inside, I had always known what I wanted to do.
About what? Who’s going listen to me? Who’s going to read what I write and feel that there’s any value in it?
That would be doubt. It happens when we embark on the unknown, because there are chances that things could go as right as they could go wrong. But, here’s where trusting in oneself and having faith come into play. Doubt is just the shadow side of belief, and just like we learn in yoga, there is both the moon and the sun, and one truly cannot exist without the other. Balance. Not good, nor bad, just an interplay to observe and be mindful of.
This is kind of how I look at fear, as well. I can feel scared as all hell that things will go to crap, or I can flip it into excitement for what’s to come. I believe that living on the precipice of that anxiety/butterflies space is what propels us to try harder, to see bigger, to color outside the lines and find that somehow, along the way, we created a beautiful masterpiece with colors and shades and hues only we could have blended. It’s like branding your very own Pantone chips for others to include in their palettes as well.
Things aren’t all hunky dory over here, as I am continually greeted by experiences that both shock and don’t surprise me at all. I have stressors like everyone else does — finances, love, health, etc. and onwards — but I guess what I’ve learned along the way is that I truly do have a choice and that I am filled with more support in my life than I can even fathom.
The other day, as I was worried about how I was being perceived and what I could be doing better or differently, I flipped it around and started owning the idea that I control my present moment. I began to write a list of what I would ideally like to have happen in this situation, asking the Universe for every minor and major detail to come true. Through that process, I gained a lot of clarity and ended it with, “This or something better.” Because sometimes, maybe I really don’t know what’s best and there is something even better in store for me, as long as I’m not closing off and open to all possibilities.
And, instead of assuming, I just started being honest with the people in my life. I started asking questions and expressing how it was for me and having faith that the ones who really love me will hold space and have a healthy interchange. They did!
I talked to my business coach the other day and admitted that building my private yoga and Reiki clientele is great, but it’s not my passion in the end. It took me almost six months (or longer) to realize this and I was disappointed that I hadn’t come across it earlier, so that the time we’ve been working together could have been devoted to this, rather than that.
“Six months is a blip in the big picture, Judy,” he told me. “Some people take years to figure this out, and it’s so important that you gained this clarity. Now, what would you like to do about it?”
Here’s where nervousness came into play.
“I just feel like it’s weird that I’ve been a professional writer all of this time, but somehow, writing about these things that I care about deeply suddenly has me feeling like a total novice. Who’s going to listen to me?”
He asked questions about what the true essence is of what I’m aiming to bring across, distilling everything into a pitch, just like we would in marketing. What would make me happy? What am I good at doing? How can I turn this into a viable business?
My coach works with a New York Times bestselling author who now earns much more than he does in a few short years.
“It’s possible,” he’s telling me. My dreams are indeed possible.
So, over the next couple of days and likely weeks and months, I’m going to meditate on these questions and see how I can greet fear with a smile and move forward anyway. I’ve already been through some tough nuggies, like standing up to someone who became a bully in my intimate relationship and figuring out how to remove the toxicity from my life; relying upon the kindness of my friends as I couch surfed my way to transitioning into a new healthy and peaceful and sweet home with housemates who have quickly become newfound confidantes; and saying ‘yes’ to the right opportunities, ‘no’ to the ones that don’t serve me, and having patience to be okay with saying ‘maybe’ to the ones that are unfolding.
It’s been a whirlwind. And I guess in the big scheme of things, that’s how the Universe helps me to find my calm, by being in the eye of the storm and knowing that no matter what, I will always have me and my faith that everything is, has always been, and ever will be, okay.