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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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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