I want a life on purpose not one by default…
I want a life where I am here, now, where I can appreciate the time and energy it takes to be true to oneself in a world that is working hard to make it hard.
I vividly remember thinking that I had no clue why I was here. I knew that I did many things for many people. I did all the right things. I knew that I wanted things yet I could not articulate or even fathom what I was meant to do, who I was meant to be. I struggled with the idea that I was meant to help people because helping, in the way I knew how, was fucking exhausting. Helping often felt like saving and those that I was saving didn’t seem to want to be saved. They simply wanted to be kept from drowning so that they could be saved again tomorrow.
I was stuck in a permanent state of co-dependency between me and anyone I could snare with my net. In the quiet moments I heard myself saying that there is no way that my purpose is to save people…that I was the one drowning and each and every time I cast my net, I was not pulling people up… I was being pulled down. That could not be my purpose. There had to be something better, something more, something that would breathe life into me, not slowly suck it away.
I started to realize that living my life on purpose meant that new experiences would feel challenging and move me towards a greater sense of Self and that when experiences that felt hard were a constant struggle because they were pushing me away from what I truly wanted. The battle to keep moving forward was what was exhausting me…
I was perhaps 2 months into this new way of thinking, sitting in the dim lamp light of 5am, when I realized that I was allowed to want more than co-dependency. Allowed to want more than in-dependency to want to be present with others, supporting, loving and be loved, to give and feel full. I wanted to want, I desired to live purposefully, not dutifully.
I wanted to live my life on purpose.
Something had to change
Something had to shift and I was the only one who had the power to create this so-called life I thought I could have. It started with a thought, which then led into an action which then prompted other thoughts which then manifested in behaviors. Those behaviors became habits and the thoughts that grew from those habits became my reality. There is no fixing, no saving, no advice giving, no setting people straight…there is only me and the decisions I make about my own life, my own thoughts my own behaviors that can impact the world. Me simply choosing to live my life on purpose draws in more of what I desire and extinguishes that which I do not.
Who am I if I am not the saver, the fixer?
What value do I have if I do not give out advice and put people on the “right” course? How will I know that I matter if I don’t hear it from others, if I don’t see the fruits of my labor, if I don’t know for sure, if I can’t connect the dots between me and you? How will I know that I matter?
There was a lot of pain behind those questions…fear more like it. I was afraid to ask because the answers required something of me I had not been able to do for a very very long time. Listen, really listen to what I knew to be true, in my head, my heart and my soul. I had been ignoring my body for years, discounting pain and anxiety as independent phenomenon. Never connecting the parts of myself together as one mighty powerful whole.
The fear that I would turn out to be insignificant, that I would be of little value to the world if I was left to be the real me, showed up in my body every day…and I kept powering through. I worked diligently to create a persona that matched the idea of success I had in my mind. I was leery of straying off the course of “shoulds” I was on…in complete fear that I would be nothing without them. Nothing without the attributes of a good girl. Nothing, because there was no guarantee that I would be any good at being me…at least when I tried to be someone else I had something to look to for guidance, a point of reference.
Being me and doing what I wanted…even asking myself what I wanted seemed nonsensical to me…I could in no way control my life if I didn’t know specifically what I was aiming for. Goals needed to be clear and controllable. Defined and acceptable. They needed to be secure and steadfast. Plans for my life needed to be laid out and doable with the current strengths and skills I had…There was no thought of growth or possibility other than to acquire another piece of paper…and even schools were chosen based on my current ability. My definition of learning matched the dictionary’s version of memorization. I did not know, had little capacity for, or understanding of, what learning really was. Lifelong learner to me was just something you said in a job interview to look humble…when the expectation was you already knew it all.
Deep rooted fear and limiting beliefs about by ability to grow, stalled my life on purpose. And it also created it. The journey I have taken, the roads I’ve traveled and the obstacles I have chosen to overcome (and those I chose to let stand in my way) brought me here. It is with intense gratitude that I look back on my life, safe, secure and stoic because it is because of that darkness, through that shadow time, that I can see myself as the light.
Reflecting back and looking inward at my self…
Once an indistinguishable presence that was barely a pinpoint that grew to a speck, then became a cluster, that aligned to a beam and then burst into a radiant being, I see how my light, my purpose needed each obstacle, needed each patch of black, each contrast to gain footing, to gain power and strength.
I was not given this life, it did not happen to me, I co-created it. My light and shadow selves worked in tandem to bring me to this moment and continue to work together to bring forth beauty and joy. I choose to live a life on purpose. To live my life swinging on the pendulum through the darkness and the light. I choose to BE all of me, to align all the parts and BE whole. To honor what once was, hold dear what is and with gratitude, invite what is to come.
I am a work in progress…
Never to be completed. I was reminded of this recently when challenged to step very far outside of my comfort zone. I was asked to do a presentation, that I have done many times in the past, but this time I was asked to do it in a very specific way for a very specific audience, for a very specific purpose. My knee-jerk response was to quit, call in sick, figure out a way out. When those options were not really options, I started to complain…
“That is not what I do, I can’t do that, they can’t ask me to do that, I am not the right person for this task, I don’t do politics, I don’t have the skill or ability, I could never because…, I won’t…and you can’t make me!” Whoa backslide much Dionne?!?
I allowed myself to stew on it for days, noting how just the thought of doing this presentation, way, way outside of my zone of genius (or so I thought), instantly sparked my shame storm. The “I am NOT enoughs” would take over my mind, my body and by behavior…Fortunately I have become very aware of my storm starters and a few times I knew well enough to distract my mind or walk away before I lashed out at those around me.
Then after 5 days of battling this thing that seemed insurmountable and HARD, I chose to turn to the one thing I knew could help…writing. Writing grants my mind permission to be the fly on the wall…to see things from a new perspective. And there on the page I figured out how to turn this HARD experience into a CHALLENGING one!
By reconnecting to my purpose, my core motivators “connection and impact” I was able to apply my zone of genius to this upcoming task and make it mine. Through my writing I was able to work through my fear of looking incompetent, of screwing up, of failing and reframe my fear response to one of energized “I CAN do this!” It was simple and not easy.
Once I gave myself permission…
Permission to feel the fear and move through it, the shift was simple…allowing myself to see past my fear in the first place was not easy…it was as hard as I needed it to be. My process for shifting from HARD to CHALLENGING from anger and resentment to anticipation and excitement is a work in progress. In the past, I may never have gotten to this place and this time, it only took 5 days.
I am grateful for my capacity to reflect, reconnect and recreate my Self, for my writing and the time I carve out to reframe my experiences so that they align with ME. I wonder if you could give yourself permission to shift something that has always been HARD and pushes you away from your Self to something that is simply CHALLENGING and moves you towards YOU? Could you go to the page and be a fly on the wall long enough to get out of the “I am NOT enoughs” and step into “I CAN do this”?
I think you know that you can!
All good things are rooted in love, laughter and learning!