Simple Questions are Always Complex

We were at an event my company was holding at the Chicago Innovation Exchange. Different business professionals were getting photos taken, reviewing their LinkedIn profiles and networking with others in the community. I stepped into a room I was rotating between while posting some SNS updates when the question was addressed to me, “how do you know what you’re supposed to do in life?”

I’ve had this conversation with many people the last few years. Sometimes, for honest feedback and insight. Sometimes, just to toss some philosophy in the mix. And every time, I find myself making a pause. Even when my response is ready, there’s that small moment where I still question myself.

“Well…you don’t. I mean, you try everything that’s of interest to you, but there’s no right answer. I don’t think we ever know. Do we have to?”

My mother and I spoke of this early one morning. We were both sipping on some fresh tea, the sun hadn’t risen yet–it was a day where the only sign of life was a deep exhale as someone teased the silence with a response. It’s nice to pretend we have the final answer. That I suddenly wake up one day and exclaim, “Yep. Knew it. This is my purpose.”

There were two young women discussing interests, where they saw themselves today and where they wanted to be. The curiosity in their eyes over what my response would be suddenly changed from this huge pressure to just being an honest moment. Sure, I’ve found my handful of interests. Things that are closer to my “real goals” than others.

But it’s always the same strategy. I go down the mental list of everything I’ve always wanted to try, but couldn’t for some reason. I cut what I’m not good at. Then comes the hard part: figuring out what I’m great at that’s just a hobby, could propel me financially and what actually gives me purpose.

Outside of learning to say no to projects so I stay sane, I’m also learning to say no to myself more. I don’t have to do things just because I’m talented at them. I don’t have to always think big picture when it’s some minute detail that caught my attention. I don’t have to create challenges when it’s going good.

Sometimes the greatest gift we give ourselves is permission to just be.

I can only hope the handful of words and resources I shared at that event proved beneficial. I can only hope that as much as this blog is an exercise in writing, it also continues to be a mental relaxation to me. I can only hope the world I’m taking in is the same I’ll be able to give back as I navigate this complex task that is self-purpose.