Where Is Your Light Directing You Today?

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It’s perhaps enough that we ask ourselves what career path we want to choose and what our true passions are that we don’t need others asking us all the same unfortunate questions.There’s just too much pressure to know off hand what we’re going to be doing for the rest of our lives. Sure, the economy seems to be statistically doing just fine and jobs are being “created” by the ever accumulating problems of being human, but opportunity and money both seem scarce us. We’re all scared.

We never needed to label the things we loved doing and we certainly didn’t need the word “passion” to know it. Excuses are what these questions are. No one starts questioning what their “passions” are until they’ve gotten old enough to be scared they don’t have any.

Here are some other fun excuses we commonly make:

  • I’m raising children.
  • I’m in debt.
  • This passion thing isn’t going to pay.
  • I’m thirty years old and should be doing something serious with my life.

When we were children we never thought that one day we’d grow up, hold jobs and pay bills, but guess what happened? I speak for many others when I say we feel overcome by our own excuses everyday. Full of disappointment in ourselves. We hate to think it’s too late for something or worse–we were never good enough. Perhaps there is no use in telling everyone that we are all good enough for something and maybe there is no solution to this issue, but there is still one thing we can do to persist and try. Pretend to be the child you once were without setting aside the wisdom you’ve gained in adulthood.

I don’t recall when I started asking what my career is going to be but at some point we all did. Logically speaking, we know job security doesn’t exist but we still pine after it nonetheless. We’ve ended up making a lot of choices “just in case”.

Remember the last generation that pined after secure factory jobs? Decades later we are questioning why that was ever a desirable prospect. Pretty soon we’ll look back and think the same of our cushy corporate jobs under florescent lights. We have to work hard to make a job work for us, not the other way around.

I never thought about careers as a kid, just what I wanted to do. Later, when I actually began to think about careers, I thought much less about what I wanted to do. How ironic. I’ve counted the number of jobs I’ve had since I entered post secondary. Jobs, not careers. A lot of what I’ve done didn’t exist when I was a kid. Heck, some of the jobs out there right now didn’t exist even five years ago. So whenever I try to start planning a year ahead, I always end up guessing wrong. There is no helping what will lie ahead.

We all have a light within us that we’ve perhaps buried over the years. What path is your light illuminating today? Sometimes it directs us to experiences we’ve had before for reflection and others for our curious and creative desires. But it never points to meetings and the fact that our co-workers don’t like us.

Improve your life by dedicating a larger portion of your day to walking on the path your light shines upon. Maybe some days you can only give it 10 percent and perhaps you can give it your all on the weekends. As with all things in life, we can work towards improving this over the years.

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Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors

Over a year ago, when I first decided to break the full-time work and school cycle I had been building around my life, I had a fairly clear picturesque idea of what my life would look like after the change:

On the days I had free I would wake up bright and early–well rested and stress free. I would consume a proper breakfast, take a quick dip in the pool and head to the coffee shop around the block to write. Of course I would write brilliant things. Inspirational even. Surely my work would make it to some fabulously glossy publication. Either that, or I’d finally come to terms with how to finish my short story and novel. I pictured my evenings filled with cozy dinners and quiet strolls afterwards. All of this was supposed to effortlessly materialize as soon as I wasn’t preoccupied with the taxing hours of holding down a job.

Ah, and who can forget the plans to travel at a moments notice? The new me would have life changing epiphanies with every new place I visited and maybe even fall in love on one of these adventures. I expected to have been met with calmness and contentedness.

It is possible that the above are all unrealistic expectations of a life with “free time”. For those of us that never have more than a few days off in between jobs, equating free time to utopia isn’t uncommon. Just as we had once equated work and business to a kind of long-term bliss to success, we are envisioning the idea of free time in the same way. Idealizing but not compromising to satisfy the vision.

I set out for a more flexible freelancing schedule, most certain that my decision was right and my dreams would become instantaneous reality. Perhaps a week into my journey to self fulfilment, I felt exhausted having realized I wasn’t exactly having “the time of my life”. Another week would go by before I began to feel drained from my new found “free time”. I had gone from overcommitment and overwhelming hours to underwhelming days and unfulfilled nights. How confusing it was to feel this way. We’ve always been told to be bold, be brave, to take risks in order to realize our dreams. But wasn’t this exactly what I did? There was something about the “follow your dreams” ideal that we’ve been failing to interpret.

With compounding feelings of disappointment and additional stresses from my dwindling bank account, the previous pleasant state of quiet now presented itself as isolation. The lives of others have continued in my absence. Nothing was missing. How was I to re-engage myself in this life?

Collectively, my choices and emotions formed what would become months of self guilt.

Because was I even allowed to feel unhappy with this choice? Would others not be thrilled to be in the same position? Why was it now that I had the “free time” everyone appeared to so desire that I can no longer admit to feeling anything less than ecstatic?

Truth be told, I was reacting to a different situation with my old ways. The life I had chosen before didn’t live up to my expectations, but neither did this new choice that was supposed to open new doors. What are we to do besides react the same way when no choice we make lives up to our expectations?

Granted there was nothing really wrong with my lifestyle change. It was more a matter of not finding acceptance to circumstances that didn’t match up to my initial ideals, so much so that I couldn’t enjoy any of the changes–positive or not.

At this point in time, I was still more than determined to push forward with this change in attempt to make it look more like the original picture I had painted in my head. My underwhelming days took a toll on my motivation level but I desperately wanted to convince myself that I was still in control. Perhaps we cannot will ourselves to have life changing experiences.

Then something unfortunate occurred. As unfortunate events occur in all our lives, this is where we can all relate no matter the circumstances. Death, failure, heartbreak.

In the weeks to follow, I could barely maintain my focus on any work I did. What was left of my willpower was dedicated to making it through each day intact. The thoughts of how my life was supposed to pan out from this day forward was replaced by hopes of regaining energy. But what was the use? I was stubborn in my ways.

Though if my dissatisfaction has taught me one thing in the months that have passed, it has taught me that my old ways won’t open new doors.

I hated every second of having to admit that I was wrong. Letting go of what I’ve known “free time” to be and getting acquainted with loving busy days felt like taking thousands of steps back in progress.

There are no simple comforts in this story. However, in time the self guilt fades with acceptance. Just as compromising to find what we really want out of life is no longer “settling” but basking in the most optimal solution to the overwhelming expectations we have of ourselves.

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Unfollowed.

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Is there ever a good way to address the problem of unfollowing? Before the time of social media, this form of rejection never existed.

At one point or another in our lives, we get unfollowed. I don’t just mean via our social media accounts but rejected in various aspects of life as well. A friend might delete you off Facebook and a business partner could want to stop working with you. Some of these things we can shake off easily and move on. Then we are left with those that can haunt us for years to come, until we make an effort to seek out new perspectives in our lives.

After every single rejection we fret over how we’ll be able to put ourselves out there again after being so hurt. We become jaded over the frustration and anger. The same negative emotions pester us to no end and build a negative energy over and over again.

I won’t deny that to a degree, we all need the validation of others. But what’s more is that freeing yourself from being unfollowed or blatantly rejected in life only truly begins when you find fulfillment in yourself.

Most recently I had the pleasure of working with someone incredibly bright in the field of academia with multiple upcoming publications. When she broke down, stating she was alone and that everyone hated her–it was all nonsense to me. Despite having been successful in her field of choice, landing the job of her dreams and having many adoring students she had read negative messages directed towards her while at the same time ignoring all the good.

Anyone in a similar situation would feel lost. Because of this, our motivation is temporarily heightened as we feel the need to obsess over results. This is what happens when we weigh our fulfillment on validation from others and their judgments. Staying grounded is key to having more self-love.

Before you decide on what to wear from your wardrobe each morning, you should wear the confidence. Why? Because it looks good on you.

There is no pleasing everyone. And if they unfollow? Good. You didn’t abandon yourself to keep them.

What we really need aren’t opinions from others on how we should feel. We need to do something. Anything. As long as we do it while treating ourselves with value.

It’s true what they say about us giving up power for others to hurt us by their rejection. Even when we look back to the people that unfollowed and countless more rejections that slapped us across the face in the past, we manage to see the good in it for being the pivot points of our lives. We survived another episode of rejection. And guess what? It wasn’t so bad after all.

So next time you get unfollowed or rejected in one way or another, know that it was just what you needed. Not that “they shouldn’t have!” or “you deserve better! nonsense.

Happiness that remains dependent on judgments formed by others will always be temporary. Beyond that, it’s difficult to recall the world we lived in before part of our validation became based on how many up-votes our thoughts received. Instead of fishing for compliments from others, we can try constantly complimenting ourselves instead. Why not tell yourself you’re awesome everyday?

Can we really learn from rejection you may wonder? Of course we can. Perhaps the rejection happened to show us that our approach was all wrong and yes, ultimately meaning we screwed up. Not only is it important to ask ourselves “Why?” but it’s just as important to ask “What can I takeaway from this rejection?”. We’re capable of reflections that make us better as human beings and prepare us for upcoming opportunities in our lives. Being rejected or unfollowed isn’t a “me game” where the whole situation revolves around you and you only. There isn’t a need to be battling more fears and insecurities of the imagination. Sometimes we’re more capable of nurturing ourselves after rejection than anyone else.

We’re the only ones responsible for healing our own wounds. Not time.

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Disney Fairy-tales and Other Glorious Lies

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“As long as you’re a genuinely kind person, you’ll be able sing with cute animals all day and eventually a fairy god mother of sorts will come and rescue you from your misery.” (What Disney plots are telling us)

Indeed, that is the magical world of Disney and folklore. The time when you were five years old and looked forward to talking to stuffed animals in a universe where wishes came true.

Perhaps our imaginations were boundless enough as we grew up to encompass more adventurous travels to places that do not exist.

But do you remember when you realized Disney fairy-tales do not in anyway reflect real life? That Santa was never real and if you were lucky enough your parents attempted to prolong your vision of this make-believe character. We felt in one way or another–cheated. Maybe confused as we all should be after having been fed years worth of lies. Taught to tell the truth but told fables to expand our horizons and grow our imagination.

Escapism is the adult form of Disney fairy-tales. In our adult lives, time is a constraint to adventures we would like to have. At the end of the day, it comes down to some form of reality that may involve mortgages and childcare support. As children we lived for the day a dragon swiftly takes us to the faraway land with fairies and as adults we live for the two days at the end of the work week. Why do we lie to our selves? Why tell ourselves we’re doing it right when all of this feels wrong.

We allow our career choices to define our self worth, cannot live without electronics, have visions of IKEA themed showrooms in the house and dream of getting a fat slice of the year end bonus at work.

The lies we tell ourselves are so much bigger than Disney fairy-tales will ever be.

Visiting  different workplaces in various areas of the city in the last month has reminded me of how little I’ve traveled geographically. Not that I was physically chained to anything but psychologically speaking, work often times has us tied up in the same corporate mindset. We’re told what tasks to perform and specific ways to conduct them. We’re literally cardboard cutouts that require the approval of others to make progress in our work lives and beyond.

Just because it’s a luxurious cage doesn’t make it any less of a cage. A seemingly high-end job can still be a constraint.

It’s too cliche to say that we’ve lied to ourselves so much that life is no longer the great adventure it once was when we were children. We stopped playing with puppets but allowed ourselves to puppets of the corporate world. Why create a reality only to desperately seek out ways to escape it?

Again and again we discover that adult life isn’t filled with unlimited freedom and happiness as we hoped. It will always be nice to believe there is something enchanting beyond the lagging computer systems and isolated corner cubicles.

Let us continue to believe in mountain top castles and whimsical creatures.

Let us continue to pass on fables.

Let us stop thinking we’re old enough to know better.

Let us stop thinking happy endings are just for wishful thinking children.

Let us refrain from the illusions created by our lies and enlighten ourselves with thoughts of countless possibilities.

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Everybody Else Has Their Lives Figured Out (But Me)

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How silly of us to be hurting ourselves on the regular basis. We do this by misguiding ourselves to only consider the successes of others. Which of course, makes us look back upon ourselves and wonder why the heck we’re so seemingly terrible at what we’re doing. It constantly makes me wonder whether it’s merely a matter of confidence after all these years. The expectations we’ve placed upon ourselves and our lives don’t always match those we’ve laid out for others –it’s tempting to measure success at first glance.

The most important aspect has nothing to do with how we measure success like you might think. However, it has much more to do with the fact that we’re allowing the successes of other’s control our personal accomplishments in life. Just like originality can come from two writers blogging about the same topic and expressing it in completely different styles, what appears to be the same dream shared by two people can still be your very own. As the saying goes… the grass is always greener on the other side. And how blatantly obvious this must sound to all of us. So obvious it is horrifying that we continue to live out our lives based on what everyone else has achieved.

Sometimes blood, sweat and tears is all we see in ourselves –allowing it to diminish the value of our successes. At the same time we neglect the blood, sweat and tears of others. Even if you cannot directly relate to the falls of others, it is crucial to understand that everybody hasn’t got everything figured out and you are most definitely not inferior to anyone.

This doesn’t apply to only one type of success, whether it be career, family or love. Many of us might only spot the families having dinner together on Christmas Eve and it makes us question how our own families should function. But how different we all are when expressing love. Perhaps on Valentine’s Day you find yourself single and at a movie where the theater is filled with couples –do you then ponder the idea of why you are not as sought after as your best friend? In reality, things are rarely what they seem like at first glance and there is no single way for someone to have their life figured out. Stop looking to others for the answer because they don’t have one either. We might even discover that the best way about having our lives figured out is to actively place the focus on self progression rather than everyone else.

I get it though. Some of us are unaware, others just feel like the secret to having perfect lives has been outed to everyone but themselves. Doesn’t it also seem like the people that have it all figured out can always achieve things that appear so out of reach for you? Self-reflection can do us worlds of good but every supposed success of others doesn’t need to equate to re-evaluation of your self worth. While you are able to understand the mistakes of others, there is certainly no reason to think they are not capable of accepting yours.

Sure we have strong tendencies to think “everybody else has their lives figured out (but me)”. Sure on our bad days it appears unfair that the rest of the world is seemingly living in a cloud of bliss filled with cats and rainbows. But I’m most certain, with a little reminder, we can come to terms with the fact that everybody else does not have their lives all figured out. Rest assured that if the above logic all applied and everybody did have their lives figured out –that would mean your life is all figured out as well.

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