Or to be more specific, what is the purpose of my life?
As I moved into adulthood years ago, this question kept whispering in my ear. Surely I must have a purpose, I kept thinking. So I reflected:
Growing up, I leaned on the adults in my life to show me about life’s purpose. I am not so sure that many of them really knew themselves. They all followed what was taught about being a good person, about contributing to the world, having compassion and going from day to day.
I was keenly aware that there was a lot of emphasis on being a parent and raising kids to be good. For some people this all seemed to be enough. BUT for many others, myself included, something was missing, something so crucial that the question about the purpose of life kept surfacing.
My quest of pursuing my life purpose by being good, doing what was “right”, helping others, and raising my kids to be good people, left me feeling empty.
Then the time came when my "right" life as I knew it fell apart. My son died by suicide and my marriage ended after 20 years of doing all I could to keep things afloat.
I found myself totally lost as to who I was and what I wanted out of life. Any purpose I may have figured out, (the purpose of being a parent and raising a family) fell apart. I couldn't let go of the belief that it was my fault, I had failed at my purpose!
Ugh! How would I move beyond this depression and guilt? If that wasn't my purpose, what is? What value do I have in this world?
I know that I am not alone in this. I have met others who have had life changing experiences that have left them wondering,
What is the purpose of my life?
What else is there?
I began a new journey to discover what was missing in my life. It was pretty clear after these experiences that I did not have a connection to JOY. And as I sat with that, I got that I haven't had much connection even prior to these events.
Somewhere I had the belief that to have joy and be happy, would be selfish and inconsiderate of those who are miserable, sad and lonely.
OF course it made sense that I also believed that I had something to do with their choice to live that way. After all, I had made it my job to be responsible for other people's happiness. Pretty ironic, when I couldn't even conjure up my own happiness.
People create this ideal of having a grand and meaningful purpose that will verify their existence. Even as I write these words, I feel heavy with the task of needing to prove that I have value and need to use my purpose as a way of earning my way.
I have worked with clients who continue to compare themselves to others, believing that they don’t matter because they haven’t done anything that has drastically changed the world. We miss the fact that by our very existence, we matter and we can change the world just by being who we be.
Let’s face it, in this society there is a strong emphasis on making your mark in the world. Make something of yourself is often heard by young adults as they move beyond their years of schooling. That sounds like they haven’t done that yet and so for the last 18 years they haven’t made anything of themselves.
I struggled to know what it was that would make something of me. And so I did the only thing I really knew that might be of value to anyone- I started a family. That became my purpose, and in that process, I wanted to prove that I was a good parent, a good wife and an overall good person. What I failed to see was that I didn’t need to prove that to anyone.
And perhaps the person I was really trying to prove all of that to - was me.
In the insanity of trying to prove all of this to myself, while I thought I was proving it to others, I lost all connection to me and who I truly BE and desire to BE.
This lifestyle of living was causing me pain, suffering, despair, guilt and fear. Not exactly the purpose I had in mind, but then I don’t think I really had any idea what I really wanted in life. No one had told me that I was enough just being me. Or that I could just choose to BE happy.
What if by just being and connecting with others and discovering your own joy in life is your purpose?
I have discovered tremendous value and contentment in knowing this. Choosing to be and do things that create more joy in my life has given me more to live for than anything else. I much prefer being with people who encourage and support me by being themselves than I do with people who are too busy making something of themselves just to prove that they are something.
Have you ever been with someone who just radiates joy from within? Do you notice how that makes you feel? Do you find yourself wanting more of that joy and energy too?
Is it possible in this world today to pursue your own “purpose”? Not a purpose that imposes that you judge yourself to make sure that you are doing it right, but rather more of a priority of what matters to you the most? I believe so. I continue to learn tools and strategies that allow me to step into new possibilities, make choices, ask empowering questions and create a life that fits my design and my desires.
I now choose the things that matter to me, not what matters to someone else. Surprisingly what I have found in this process is that I am not being selfish at all, and in fact, I am more caring and kind to others because of my own pursuit of joy and happiness. And I can be a better parent now that I don't have anything to prove and I can allow my children to know that what matters most in life, may just be what makes them happy.
Mary shares her desire to create different possibilities for families and individuals who are looking to live a more conscious and aware lifestyle. BE YOU Parenting is for parents who want to BE all that they truly BE and to allow their kids the same privilege.