Do What You Are
My daughter, Emma, is 16 years old and struggling a bit in regards to “what she wants to be when she grows up”. This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately as I’m trying to help her navigate all the possibilities and ease her worries and confusion about the future.
It really sucks that there exists so much pressure around making these sorts of decisions at all, but it especially sucks that it starts from such a young age. The recent shift in her energy and her focus has been palpable, from playful and carefree to thoughtful and serious. She has changed before my eyes from child to young adult as she is faced with making some pretty major life decisions. I’m concerned that my little girl is beginning to lose her sense of play or even becoming disconnected from her intuition. This concerns me because I have learned that these two qualities are fundamental to our happiness as human beings
I feel moved to write about this because I, too, remember what that felt like. After all, it wasn’t really so long ago that I was faced with the same decisions. Okay, well maybe. 🙂 I’ll admit my journey most definitely did not follow a straight line, but at 40, I can finally say that I have arrived somewhere…..well, exactly perfect for me. When I’m working, I am lost and in love with the present moment. Not just fulfilled…….but truly joyful! I wake up in the morning excited to get to work, so if this doesn’t qualify me as an expert on the topic of career choices, I don’t know what will.
First, I’d like to say that it took me 15+ years post secondary school to sort myself out, but that I was somewhere in there all along. It just took a great deal of unlearning and deconditioning to dig myself out from under that heap of bullshit I had been told and sold…..none of which really belonged to me (although I identified myself with it). I had to recover my instincts and have since begun to question why I was ever led away from them in the first place. Because now I find myself here, back where I began, making things with my hands out of ordinary stuff just as I loved to do when I was younger. It feels like a full circle journey, really, and now I am able to balance my adult responsibilities with my reclaimed sense of childhood wonder and joy. And I’m making a living harnessing that energy, to boot! What could be more magical?!
I’m sure I don’t need to point out the fact that the arts are not valued in our society as they should be. I was an artist from the get go (I believe that all children are), although as I grew older I tried really hard not to be. Although I felt truly at home within myself while I was immersed in anything right brained or creative, I was led to believe (somewhere along the road) that this wasn’t good enough….or respectable….or valued….or any way to make a “real” living – That growing up meant letting that part of myself shrink. The BEST part of myself shrink. I believed that even if I did consider a career in the arts, I would have to live up to some impossibly high standard (set by somebody else) if I were ever to be taken seriously or make a living at it.
Well, screw that.
Rather than sitting here, waxing philosophical or deconstructing our educational system or discussing the shortcomings of our society (how I could go on) I’m just going to cut to the chase in bullet form so I don’t end up writing a whole book…..
Here are some nuggets of wisdom that have surfaced through my experiences, regarding the decision of “what to be when you grow up”:
- too many opportunities can sometimes paralyze rather than free us (don’t chase that carrot)
- look around at what’s available to you, right now, and just start
- accept yourself and your situation as it is and become the best version of that (it will evolve…but you have to start where you are)
- one step at a time please, no need to attempt great leaps (planning too far ahead sometimes stops us dead in our tracks….the mountain can seem so steep!)
- proving yourself to others (or yourself) is all about ego and not who you truly are, so stop trying so hard ( ie. when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor so people might actually listen to me and finally respect my ideas!! It wasn’t truthfully about helping others…it was about my ego. I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t have been a great reason to get into medicine)
- trust that you already have what you need to start
- if you are truly passionate about what you are doing, nothing will stand in your way (read: no excuses!)
- if you are making excuses, consider that it might not be the path for you
- nobody can do it on their own and there is no shame in asking for help (I was the worst at this….practice makes imperfect)
- lean on your people, use your resources…..they are there for a reason
- always approach your work with a beginners mind – open, curious, learning
- what do you love? Make time for that (as much as humanly possible) and let the rest take care of itself
- do what you are
- just start!!!
I once read somewhere that within our favourite childhood stories and games are clues to uncovering our true happiness as adults. I think there may be some truth to this. SO what was it? What did you lose yourself for hours in? What was the story that you read over and over again…or that movie that you loved? What were the parts that inspired you? Where is that spark in you now?
Find that spark and let yourself follow it with all of your heart.
Much love XX