As the year comes to an end, I can’t help but look back on the past 12 months. Where have I been and what have I accomplished? What still lies ahead? A question that always seems to always fall back into my lap is: Where do I fit into the grand scheme of things? What difference could I possibly make? Whether ultimately the product of divinity or spontaneous expansion, the life we’ve been gifted is undeniably astounding.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around the abstruse concept of human existence. Actually, I’m quite confident that as my questions beget more questions, any answers gathered up along the way will slip back into oblivion. As I explore further and delve deeper, I’ve begun to realize that I don’t actually care about finding conclusive answers.
The question isn’t, “Why are we here?” but “Why am I here?”
The only question that matters: What am I going to personally contribute to make this world a better place?
I set numerous goals each year, but in 2013 I’m intent on excavating my life and unearthing my core values, passions, and purpose. I want to exhume my most authentic self, discover my true potential, and build a life that is in near-perfect alignment with what I desire and all that I have to offer this world. I feel as if that will be a necessary foundation for nearly any other endeavor.
My mother has always been my role model, the person I’ve hoped to one day emulate. For most of my childhood, she was an entrepreneur–she worked hard, loved what she did, and was extremely successful. In my small world, the challenge and risk of starting a business from scratch was not only admirable, but entirely normal. At World Domination Summit this past summer, I saw the exact same thing that I was surrounded by growing up–passionate people who love what the do and have allowed themselves the freedom to pursue their fondest interests and create their own schedule.
I want that for myself, more than anything. One day. Hopefully sooner than later.
As children, we’re propelled by a strong drive and guided by a sense of endless potential–everything is possible. Yet, as we grow older, these boundless hopes are extinguished by necessity and normalcy. Social norms latch on like leaches and suck the life from us before we even realize what we could be missing out on.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
- Howard Thurman
Menial tasks are draining, whereas tinkering with your favorite hobby is invigorating. Given the option, why would anyone choose mundane over meaningful? (We do have the option, every one of us.) Why do we reserve our special talents and hobbies for the weekend? In the past year, I have met so many people who are living off their passions. The joyous and enthusiastic bunch have been such an inspiration to me–what this world needs is people who are completely in love with their lives, those whose day-to-day lives mirror their “if money were no issue” ideal.
My aspirations as a child were to become an artist, veterinarian, a criminal investigator, and human rights advocate. In early adulthood, I veered towards neurosurgery and doctorate-level psychology research. After college, I questioned whether I could write for a living–perhaps become a thought-leader on some particular topic and gain enough expertise to truly help people. The only common thread I’ve found among all my potential livelihoods is my helping people with minimal direct interaction. (I suppose that’s why I’m so drawn to blogging.) Though I enjoy my “real world” job, I don’t feel as if I’m helping people, and thus don’t feel a corporate career to be a sustainable option for me in the long-run.
A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
- Bob Dylan
What if each of us took the time to question our own unique gifts? It’s a daunting and effortful task, yet we can learn so much along the journey. I love writing (blogging, research essays, poetry, narratives), reading, culture (music, museums, art, literature), science (psychology, physics of the universe, evolution, fauna), philosophy, spirituality, health and fitness, and connecting with everyone on a level beyond obligatory small talk. There is no one in existence with the exact same experiences, interests, and talents as me, or you. There’s no need to “find your niche” because once you come to know yourself, you’ll discover that your life is your vocation.
Every moment is a part of your big production–you’re the lead actor, as well the director. It’s your job and your responsibility to put thought into writing (and editing) your screenplay, and then taking your time to cast (and recast) the best supporting characters. Life can often feel huge and overwhelming–it’s so easy to forget that each of us is the master of our own existence. Regardless of external circumstances, you and I are here to explore the daunting depths, discover new heights, and indulge in the full spectrum of emotional experiences. We are here to venture into the unknown, to practice courage, and to be stretched beyond limitation, in spite of our fears.
I often feel small, as if nothing I accomplish will ever extend beyond the handful of people that I interact with on a daily basis. The thought is utterly debilitating. But then I look around at all those whom I admire. They are are completely normal individuals, yet they’ve served as a beacon of light to others. Just by being themselves and adhering to their values, these people have enhanced lives and changed the course of history. And I’ve come to realize that each of us contains that same seed of potential. Many small people who do many small things can ultimately alter the face of the world.
The planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.
So what is your answer? What are you going to contribute to make this world a better place in the coming year and over the course of your lifetime?