On the outside, I present myself as a pulled-together, take-charge woman. I’ve checked off all the boxes—education, travel, marriage, family, a nice house, a list of hobbies—what more could I ask for? Yet as I enter mid-life, I feel just as clueless as the first day I left home.
I’ve been drifting through life in recent years, wondering about which direction I’m supposed to be headed. Thinking that I should have this all figured out by now. Instead, I find myself increasingly frustrated by not having all the answers.
At first I tried to “fix” my feelings of being adrift in life with a logical approach. I started searching for my LIFE PURPOSE—that great passion we’re all told to find because once we do, our lives will magically turn into hearts and flowers, and we’ll dance off into the sunset of happily ever after. I read self-help books, listened to podcasts, took personality quizzes, and filled out professional aptitude tests. I tried on countless futures in my imagination, always wondering “Is this the one?”
Finally I consulted a career counselor (yes, they do exist for adults) to help me reinvent myself. After listening to my life story, my struggles and successes, as well as the intense longing I felt for something more, she asked me the one question that would change everything.
“What do you want to do next?”
Rather than focus on a huge career move, my ultimate professional direction, or anything remotely resembling my LIFE PURPOSE, she just wanted to know what I saw as the first small step I could take. And I didn’t have a clue.
It felt like I was wandering through a crowded city full of possibilities without a guidebook or even a map. I’d been stumped before I could take a single step. That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps I hadn’t been asking myself the right questions.
So after sorting through my confusion over purpose and direction, what I know for sure about my future is that it involves writing. I’ve been dabbling with short, speculative fiction since 2010, but I have journals going back to childhood. I’ve considered all sorts of writing-related career jumps in the past, but didn’t have the confidence in my abilities to pursue that full-time. For years I toyed with the idea of starting a blog, but never felt comfortable holding myself out as an authority on any subject.
When I left the meeting with my career counselor, I kept asking myself what comes next. Perhaps it was time to start a blog after all… Yet as I revisited what I could share with an audience, I faltered. I still have no clear idea what I’m doing or where I want to go for my destination in life.
So write about that.
This answer came like a whisper, and it completely knocked me over. I now know in my heart this is what’s meant to come next. That grand, purpose-filled life journey…I still have to take it one step at a time.
Putting thoughts down on paper is how I’ve always worked through challenges, and now I realize that finding my way out of this current fog of confusion is all about asking the right questions.
It’s not hard to imagine that maybe there are others out there searching for their core direction and personal truths too. What if we all started asking ourselves these deeper questions? Something beyond: How am I going to make it to my next vacation, weekend, or end of the work-day?
Connection is a powerful tool, and together we can share the experience of exploring these inquiries with one another. No one can provide you with one-size-fits-all platitudes—you’re the only one capable of answering life’s essential questions. The most important step, though, is to start asking them.
I’m starting off this blog with the basics that everyone remembers from school: Who? What? Where? When? Why? & How?. These six questions will form the basis for my inquiries, and I’m adding one more for now… Am I willing?
We’ll introduce these topics in the next several posts, as I muse on them through the lens of my experience. Then I’ll ask you to consider how the question applies to your life. Feel free to share your insights and answers (and perhaps even more questions) in the comments below.
Just remember that we all struggle at various points in our lives, and each individual’s experience is unique and deserving of respect. This space isn’t here to tell anyone what to think, feel, or do. Its purpose is to inspire new ways of looking at the issues we all face, and to encourage one another to keep moving forward…to keep asking those deeper questions.