Have you ever had that feeling that something is missing in your life? You’re doing all the right things: working, paying bills, socialising, maybe doing a sport or hobby in your free time; you might be studying, perhaps you have a family. It’s going well enough but something isn’t right. It’s not that you’re unhappy, just that you feel as if you could be, should be, doing something else. You’ve worked hard for years to get to where you are and now you’re thinking, ‘is this it?’ Is this it? Is this how I want to spend the rest of my life? Working, paying bills, washing the car, chasing around after my kids, summoning up the energy for a night on the town, pounding the treadmill at the gym, watching my hair grow greyer and my waist grow thicker with each passing year? If everything’s going alright why do I feel so oddly dissatisfied? You have? Well hang on to your hat, have I got some wisdom to pass on to you!
I attended a networking event this week, an evening for entrepreneurs and people interested in personal growth. It was my first ever networking event and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I made a few contacts, gained a few pointers to take away and widened my vision and ambition for the future. During the evening I met a lovely woman, let’s call her Suzy. Suzy was there because although she loves her job and is doing well in her career, she has this nagging feeling that something is missing. She keeps moving house, she keeps putting off relationship and career decisions because she wants to travel but somehow she never gets round to quitting her job and travelling. She knows she wants to do something different for a career but she can’t make a change until she knows what it is she wants to do and she’s realised she is using her plans to travel as an excuse for the delay. Suzy is concerned that the time she is spending on personal development while she’s trying to identify a new direction is a waste of time and money. She’s becoming frustrated with her lack of progress.
The more I agonised over my failure to identify a purpose, the more I lost my confidence.
As she talked I was struck with how familiar her words were. They were the exact thoughts and feelings I’d had until about 18 months ago. I’d spent the previous five years agonising over guilt and frustration at not being happy with my role as a stay-at-home mum and housewife. Like Suzy, I felt something was missing. It’s hardly surprising that a daily routine of endless cleaning and grocery shopping with possibly one night out in four months wasn’t enough to keep the spark in my heart. I couldn’t work because our autistic son couldn’t cope with me not being at home to provide the routine and constant attention he needed. My life revolved around my son, my husband and the house. It was a very small life and I felt stuck in the proverbial rut. But even before then, when I was working, I had felt that way. It seemed that everyone else had a plan and was confidently striding forth while I was paddling in the shallow end of life, just about getting through each day and hoping that things would turn out alright. I knew there had to be more to life than this but I didn’t know what to do. The more I agonised over my lack of direction, the more I lost my confidence. When I had my child it seemed as if I had finally found my purpose: I was a mother. But I soon discovered it didn’t fill me with the sense of purpose I thought it would and the guilt and depression crept in. If this was what I wanted then why was I so miserable?
Long story short: I wasn’t connecting with my passions. I get my fuzzy, warm-heart high from learning, writing and teaching and I was not doing any of that, ergo my depression. About 18 months ago I had the lightbulb moment of revelation and I decided to start blogging so I could share ten years’ of autism parenting experience and my personal development revelations with anyone who would benefit from them. From that small decision came recovery; I regained my spark, slowly rebuilt my confidence and began to see possibilities in turning my hobby into something more professional. I started attending small Meetup groups, I rebuilt my social life and reconnected with old friends, I started learning new skills and attending networking events. And here I am, cured of my depression, focused and ambitious and excited about life again and appreciating my role of mother and housewife because I’m happy instead of frustrated. My little hobby changed my life.
Life is richest in the possibilities and the unknowns.
Do you know what I love most of all? I have no idea how it’s going to work out. It might be awesome, it might be a wet fart of a failure. I love not knowing because it’s in the adventure that we grow. I have all sorts of groovy and exciting plans for the future and the more I do the more those plans change and evolve. Even if nothing comes of it I’ll have learned a hell of a lot and met some awesome people along the way. And that is the whole point of life, isn’t it? The doing, the trying, the dreaming and the believing and not being afraid to fail because what we learn on the way makes it worthwhile. Life is richest in the possibilities and the unknowns.
“Maybe,” I said to Suzy, “you are focusing on the end goal when the development is the point. Perhaps you need to stop worrying about what you should be doing and enjoy the experience of the discovering, and eventually you’ll find what it is you want to do along the way.” She agreed and when the evening was over she went away enthused and optimistic about the future, and a lot less stressed. We’re going to stay in touch. I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop for Suzy.
If you haven’t found what sparks your heart yet make the voyage of discovery your passion and your purpose
I have realised that it is the process of personal growth that is the point of life: not what we end up doing but who we become. It is in becoming more rounded, wiser, more experienced, more compassionate that we find our purpose. It is in the people we meet, in the differences we make to the lives of others. It is in the skills we develop and the ways we find to express ourselves, becoming the truest and best iterations of ourselves. What you do to get there, how long it takes you, it doesn’t matter. Don’t worry if you’re not there yet because we never really are. We’re all playing the hand dealt us and winging it. If you haven’t found what sparks your heart yet make the process of discovery your passion and your purpose. Meet new people, do new things, utilise old skills and learn new ones. You will come to see yourself and the world around you with new eyes and when you do that, you’ll find you’ll not only discover your purpose but you’ll have become the person you need to be to enjoy it.
So stop stressing, go and have some fun, try new things and don’t forget to let me know how it goes.