One of the scariest moments of my life was when I was shopping one day with my three-year-old. As with most children, she was full of curiosity, but she also had an independent streak that would send her exploring without fear (more than most). As soon as she was mobile, she had a tendency to wander off down any rabbit trail that piqued her interest. This kept me on my toes as soon as she started walking, because that kidlet was fast. On this particular day, she was wandering around the clothing racks when suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t see her anymore and so I called her name. No answer. I rounded the corner, expecting to see her chubby little face, and nothing, my panic level went up a few notches. I began calling her name louder, scanning in and around the clothes racks. A sales clerk asked me if I needed some help and I told her that I was looking for my three-year-old who had wandered off.
What happened next was a flurry of activity – radios going off, announcements over the loudspeaker, employees locking down the doors with the words CODE ADAM being bandied about. About a minute later, my curious daughter comes strolling around the corner, not realizing the minor panic she had caused with her disappearing act. She was confused as to why I had a frantic look on my face, told me she was just looking at the clothes and that I was hugging her too tightly.
As children, we are curious creatures with a sense of wonder and fascination helps us learn about the world. Then somewhere on the road to adulthood, we begin losing that curiosity, allowing what people think and the need to control and plan get in the way, making it harder and harder to step out of line. We go to school and are forced into a schedule, into straight lines, and into the pressures of peer groups until our innate curiosity is squashed, buried by the overwhelming need to fit in. When asked to describe myself in three words in high school, responsible was the first word that came to mind.
As adults, we frown upon those that color outside of the lines, while secretly hoping that we are brave enough to do the same.
For almost three decades, I did what I was told. I was the dutiful daughter, the faithful Christian, the excellent wife, the perfect mother. When I was 29, my current safe and narrow world was shattered when I found out about my husband’s affair. At thirty, as I picked up the pieces of my life and my marriage, I vowed to stop doing what I was told all the time, to stop trying to stay in ling and to chase curiosity. I desperately wanted to find my passion, my life’s purpose. So, I began to explore again. Instead of following a straight line and having the pressure of knowing exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. If something seemed interesting to me, I flitted over and explored it.
That first led to starting a photography business.
Which led to learning and understanding social media.
Which led to planning events and building a network in the community.
Then I got a divorce and in that divorce, I discovered my love and need to write.
That led me to a job as an editor and writer for a photography magazine.
Which led me to expand my skill set in many areas.
Which led me to another job in marketing.
And has now led me to my dream job where I’m using all of the skills I’ve learned above.
People always say, chase your passion and that seems like a great idea, except what if you don’t know your passion? For the better part of forty years, this was my struggle. I had no freaking clue what I was passionate about. This made me feel even more inadequate than I was feeling. How could someone who was 30+ years old NOT know what her dreams were?! Trying to chase my passion when I didn’t actually know what my passion actually was caused more anxiety than if I just did nothing to begin with.
[RELATED POST: Finding Your Life’s Purpose Is Overrated]
By letting go of the pressure to find my passion and just be content to explore the things that made me curious, I woke up the week of my fortieth birthday and knew with confidence that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Less than three months later, I landed my dream job and could finally answer the question plaguing me for the past few decades, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
You may be one of those lucky people that knew what your life’s purpose was since you were five years old. For me, finding my life’s purpose meant just acknowledging my curiosity and exploring the things that I found interesting. My convoluted path still landed me exactly where I was supposed to be, even if it may have caused some panic (metaphorically) along the way.
If you’re struggling with not knowing where to go, what to do, or what your life’s passion or purpose is, remember that curiosity didn’t necessarily kill the cat. So, be more like yourself at 4 years old. Wander off and get lost in exploration. Ignore those that keep calling your name and the radios blasting out Code Adam’s all around you. Getting a little lost by doing something that interests you in that present moment might lead you exactly to your passion, your life’s purpose or to whatever you’re searching for.
Books I Am Reading:
- Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
- Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive With The New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness
- Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
*These books are affiliate linked, which means if you click on them, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link*