*Not* a definitive guide to finding purpose

The featured image for this post is a “Little 11” poem I wrote for a writing prompt challenge going around the poetry community on Instagram (SHAMELESS SELF PLUG: you can follow my poetry at @tryingsofter). The poem structure of this particular challenge called for 11 words only, but I found that when I was done I had slightly more than 11 words to say about the topic, so instead of blasting the caption field with this, I thought I’d lay it out nice & neat on my blog. Everything in its right place.

Cost of purpose
breaks the bank
when we spend without intention.

This could apply to money, but mainly I’m talking about time & energy costs. Here is what I have learned over the past couple of years about “finding your purpose”:

1) Invest wisely.

2) Intention is everything. EVERYTHING. E V E R Y T H I N G.

3) Pay attention. Choose your words & actions in alignment.

4) Purpose = alignment = balance = happiness = purpose. See? Easy peasy.

5) The formula is easy peasy but that doesn’t mean it won’t take you years to figure that shit out. The pathway to the answer is surprisingly convoluted for being nothing but a bunch of equal signs. Arriving to it takes huge amounts of patience, faith, and trust.

6) So cultivate patience, faith, and trust.

7) Don’t believe everything you hear about “purpose” looking or feeling a specific way. Purpose is relative. It’s all you, baby, it’s all you. Explore to your heart’s content, and claim what makes it sing.

8) Don’t take my word for it. Everyone finds their purpose in their very own way and this is by no means a definitive guide. I just wanted to throw my perspective out there.


Do you have anything to add to this list?

In Defense of Ditching Expectations

I have been a lifelong subordinate to my exceedingly high expectations.

The perfectionism runs strong. When I am having a Bad Day, it typically consists of struggling to get anything done because I am either 1) petrified at the possibility of experiencing my own perceived mediocrity, or 2) discouraged & angry from pushing through with something anyway and then being displeased with the results because they were not up to my standards like they were supposed to be (supposed to be, damnit!). This includes basic functions such as tidying up or taking a shower.

But this is not always the case, and I sat here at my little blog tonight to talk about how it feels when this is not the case, because that is important.

When being a victim to expectation is not the case, intuitive living is.

And this is what intuitive living feels like for me:

Getting really clear on my highest values and aligning myself to those values unapologetically.

For me, one of the utmost priorities in my life is writing and creating.

When I allow absolutely everything else in life to revolve around that, releasing expectations feels — effortless.

What it comes down to is that SO MANY of the expectations I hold for myself and my life circumstances are actually ones I picked up from other people. I adopted them from society, from childhood experiences, from previous and current relationships. Their expectations became my story, and separating my own bonafide expectations from the pile was a damn long journey (that I most definitely still am on).

But the most liberating discovery that comes from following MY expectations — the ones that are mine outside of external influence and conditioning, the ones that have held a place in my deep through hell and high tide and whispered their truth to me underneath all the years and the noise — is actually SO. EASY. to do.

Because the only ones I truly have for myself are that I’m

1) kind & happy
and
2) creating.

Knowing this, from here I can make any given decision at any moment to the best of my ability. It really is that easy. It really is. I know you may be skeptical (so am I on the Bad Days), but trust that the ease comes and that it is wondrous and real.

I can make decisions, and I can make them with confidence, and I can stand in the truth and power of them without feeling shaken by judgment.

(Side note: surrounding yourself with people who unconditionally support you and your choices helps, too. Go get you some of those if you don’t already have them.)

Of course responsibilities still loom and adulting is still so overwhelming sometimes, but recognizing that I can disown the expectations I’ve been carrying around that do not serve me (which in turn do not serve others) is a pretty damn big deal.

•••

What expectation can you let go of right now, as you read this? There are so many choices, friend. Do you hear those incessant cries of “you should be this, you should do that, your life should look a certain way”? Do you hear whose voices they are? Do they sound like yours? Are they loving? Are they wise? Do they reflect your heart and your soul and your spirit?

If they are not your own (and they very well may be, but you really need to listen to know for sure):

Take the echoes, hold them for a moment in your strong and gentle hands, and then drop them in the ether. Watch them tumble away into the fog. Tell me how it feels.

If you don’t miss them, you probably listened very hard, and for that you should celebrate.


Header image: “Westerly” by Freya Cumming

Do I want to be good or do I want to be free?

This morning one of my favorite humans on the planet, Elizabeth Gilbert, posted something on Facebook:

good-free

and it was so good and so timely.

This very summer, I finally figured out my calling.  It’s the thing that I get out of bed in the mornings for, it’s the thing that everything else in my life revolves around, and it’s the thing that I have been pulled towards all my life.  Funny how for all of these blatantly obvious signs it took me years to arrive at.  But of course, there were obstacles.  There are always obstacles.  There are obstacles now.

But what matters is that I found it: my calling.  My purpose.  My passion.  My thing.
My freedom.
I’ve distilled it down to its pure essence and bottled up an infinite supply.  And I have been deeply and joyfully immersed in it.

But I find that the high of following my freedom dwindles the most when I am in front of other people who may not agree with my path.

I get fearful, nervous, defensive.  I have trouble standing in my truth without immediately taking on the tone of a defiant teenage girl (aka my former self).

What I want the most is to be kind and firm simultaneously, but insecurity keeps me from achieving this.

I worry that in not knowing how to properly externally express my reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing, it somehow lessens its validation.  My mind, always the eager saboteur, says, “If you can’t explain it to others, do you really understand it yourself?”

(The answer, of course, says my spirit, is yes.  Not everything that is understood can be understood through words.  Words are only one form of language.  Any music fan will tell you that.)

But though spiritually I know this, layers of mental and emotional conditioning refuse to budge.  And it’s not only that, but it’s the idea that I somehow owe others an explanation. That it’s the “right thing to do” to make sure people properly understand.

And I guess that’s where being “good” comes in.
Because in reality, bestowing understanding upon others is not my responsibility.
Because there is no “proper” way to externally express one’s deepest, most heart-centered truth — but the “good” in me is determined to try anyway.  And the “good” in me is often synonymous with “perfection” and/or “outside approval”. See also: people- pleasing.  Hesitant.  Non-confrontational.  Overly self-conscious. A bit of a martyr.

And you know what?  I am not entirely pooh-poohing any of those things.  Though I definitely used some phrases there that typically come with bad connotations, there is a light side to everything.  Being the “positive version” of these things means I am aware of others’ feelings; I am sensitive; I am empathetic; I am flexible and adaptable.  Tactful, considerate, amiable.

And yet.

Everything in moderation.

There it is again: the “good”.  I am a good person because I care about others’ feelings.

But am I a free person?

When I am doing things with my life that I have been called to do: Yes, I am.
When I am loving others even when they don’t love my choices: Yes, I am.
When I am releasing the need to prove my own choices worthy: Yes, I am.

But you know, easier said than done.

I dream of one day being able to look my loving skeptics right in the eye and say softly and happily, “I know you are coming from a place of love and concern, but I am so happy, and the choices I’m making right now feel so amazing and empowering, and I trust myself.”

But until then, I’ll just continue to walk my path, honor my intuition, and constantly remind myself that even if it never makes sense to others, that is not the goal anyway.  The goal is, has been, and always will be to make sense to myself. And what I’m doing now makes the most sense anything has made to me in all my 28 years of living. I’d say that’s doing myself a “good” one.

And in time, when my happiness is evident — when it shines out through my face and the air is positively glowing with it — I think that will make all the sense to anyone.

•••

Further exploring?

 


Header image via Mara Hoffman