One time someone told me when you are feeling stuck in life to make a list of things you love and a list of things you are currently doing. Then look at the two lists and see how many of the things match up. I did this recently and was absolutely alarmed that barely anything was the same.
A snippet of my things I love list is:
- Good food and wine/cocktails
- Strong coffee
- Working out
- Interesting people/conversation
- Being outside
- Happy hour on patios
- Good music
Although a lot of the above-mentioned things are certainly a part of my life, they don’t run the majority of it. And it is my main goal in the very near future to find a way (or ways) to alter what I spend most of my days doing to include the things I am passionate about. Sure – some of the items (like sleeping) are fun or necessary things that we do whether we have time for them or not. But I strongly feel that the more we prioritize what makes us happy, the more apt we are to opening ourselves up to the world and the ability to contribute what we can and should to society. Currently I spend a lot of time thinking about what I think I should be doing and not nearly enough time focusing on what my heart is telling me to do.
I’ve talked about this book before by Shauna Niequist, and it really does hold some of my favorite quotes on pursuing the beautiful things in life and letting go of what wasn’t meant for us:
“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard…is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”
“Sometimes we get so tangled up in our own perceptions of ourselves, what we think we’re good at and what we’re not, that we lose perspective, seeing only our failures and bad habits.”
“Sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.”
“Life hands us opportunities at every turn to get over ourselves, to get outside ourselves, to wake up from our own bad dreams and realize that really lovely things are happening all the time.”
“So much of life, it seems, is about having the courage to ask your own questions instead of going with the script.”
“If you were made to create, you won’t feel whole and healthy and alive until you do.”
If those quotes don’t make you want to order Bittersweet off of Amazon, I don’t know what will. This book has been really life-changing for me in helping me to follow along with one woman’s journey of change, love, loss, excitement, passion, and confusion. She is very honest about how difficult it is to quit what is safe and pursue what is crazy and lovely and beautiful. So for those of you out there than have stopped what you hate to do something you love, I admire you and envy you, because I’m starting to see how difficult that really can be.
When I sit back and look at the people close to me in my life and think about their careers and then about their passions, I see a lot of things that line up and a lot of things that are so far away from alignment that it’s almost unbelievable. It is really sad to me that nowadays a lot of our society tells young college freshman that they must pursue a career that will give them stability, money, and a good retirement plan. Very rarely (and correct me if I am wrong) do I hear someone in college tell me that their professor told them to follow their passion. I think it is so important for young people to hear that their dreams are worth it. There really does have to be “somebody for everything,” and by that I mean that every job (no matter how seemingly important or meaningless) needs to have someone to do it. If your passion is reality TV, I know plenty of people who podcast about Real Housewives for a living (and make way more than I do!). If your passion is working out, you can be a personal trainer. If your passion is eating good food, write a travel blog about all the different places you try. If your passion is sleeping, become a sleep coach to help people with insomnia that need someone like you.
Oftentimes we think that (in my case): “How could I ever make a living based on my passions – good wine, animals, children, organization, working out, and music?” Although it may not be a conventional career path, I’m certain there is something out there for me that will allow me to incorporate all these things. We aren’t doing anyone a service by doing something we hate just because we feel like we have to. Especially because there is most likely someone out there in the world looking for exactly what some of us are currently trying to get rid of.
The beautiful thing about this world is the diversity of the people who live in it. Everybody has different loves and passions and goals and dreams, making plenty of room for all of us to pursue them individually and as a community. And when you think about it that way, the longer we hold onto something that isn’t meant for us, the longer someone else may have to wait to receive their dream. So I for one want to be a part of matching everybody up with their dream career, as long as they are willing to fight for it and realize that their happiness is worth it.
It’s cliche but true that we cannot take care of those around us if we are not taking care of ourselves. It definitely feels selfish to me to focus so much of my energy on myself and figuring out where exactly my joy comes from, but I know in the long run this will serve not only myself, but my family, friends, and anyone else I may interact with. I strongly feel that people who go after what they love in life not only come out happier, but encourage others simply by their energy to do the same. Whether we believe it or not, we pick up on people’s energy without them even having to say anything. And today, where there is so much negativity in the world, it is more important than ever to get rid of the negativity and focus on making our world the happiest, healthiest version of itself that we can.
I would love to hear from you! Have you followed something you love? Was it a hard or easy decision?