Imagine someone gave you a written play-by-play of every day of your life since you were 12, and your reflections on events, and life, throughout all those years of your life.
That’s exactly what I’ve been reading these days: my old journals.
I’ve been an avid journal-writer since the age of 12, so there’s a LOT of good stuff in there. Things I never once thought about since they happened are coming back to life, and I’m learning some interesting things.
In fact, I’m really falling in love with my younger self. She is one of the bravest people I know—she’s someone who could have chosen to accept being debilitatingly shy, but instead she chose to constantly put herself out there, and try new things despite her fears.
My younger self knew she had some sort of purpose to fill in life from an early age, and she was determined to find it—she knew she had to try as many things as possible to figure it out.
This led her to play guitar and sing in front of her entire high school, move out as soon as she graduated high school, and travel to places like Malawi, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand (usually solo)—all before she was 20.
This curiosity for life and purpose led her to 10 days of silent meditation, summers planting trees in the BC bush, and over 30 different jobs (including working at a hot dog stand, pumping gas, painting houses, personal assistant to a professional misbehavor, and serving hors d’oeuvres on a sailboat!).
But she constantly felt like she had this giant gaping hole inside of her. The hole was big enough that it led her to years of binge eating—and as much as she ate, she was never able to fill the hole.
She tried to drown out the gaping hole with partying—going out and getting wasted anywhere from 2-4x per week during her first year of University. This practice that’s considered pretty “normal” during one’s first year of University, left her feeling even more empty and unfulfilled than ever, and dissatisfied with the shallow friendships that came with it.
It wasn’t until she clearly defined the way she wanted to make her mark in the world, and then dove head first into it that she stopped writing about the gaping hole. Not surprisingly, the binge eating and incessant partying subsided as well.
She had been passionate about the environment and changing the destructive ways that humans treat the earth for years, but she’d never done anything about it (other than becoming a vegetarian and ranting A LOT about it in her journals!).
She finally got involved in some environmental activism during her time at UBC, and was soon leading a group of environmental organizers on the campus. She organized flash mobs, spoke in front of classes, and wore a dinosaur costume to get people to come out to events (dinosaurs again fossil fuels… get it?!).
She was surprised how much she found her voice--this shy girl had stepped up to become a leader, and make waves, because she was so deeply passionate about what she was doing. And that gaping hole eventually became filled.
But this isn’t the happy ending at the end of a fairy tale. Because in real life, our passions shift and change. Our purpose takes on different forms, and it deepens over time. Our desires, our dreams, and our truth are in constant flux, and my younger self was caught off-guard when her passion for the environment became less prominent.
Without the intention of it, her passion landed her a career in environmental education after she graduated from University. About a year into the work, she found herself worried and nervous that her former vivacity for the craft seemed to have left the building.
Again, she had to reconnect to her purpose. What was calling to her now?
It was a complete change. It was coaching—she wanted to help people realize their full potential. She began to believe that the changes that need to happen in our world require people to change first, and that all the other stuff that needs to happen (like nurturing more respect for our environment) will naturally flow from that.
And so she attended school for life coaching, started her life coaching business (which quickly morphed into career coaching), and took off by herself on a 3-month road trip in her prius… naturally!
There’s lots more to the story but I’m going to stop there for now.
Reading back through my journals, the path seems so clear. In retrospect, everything makes so much sense. But at the time?
I was confused as hell.
I don’t have a grand point to make with this story, but it needed to come out of me, so I’m going to let you take from it what you need.
Although, I guess I do want to say: don’t settle for anything less than what you know to be your true purpose. Sometimes I avoid the word “purpose” because it’s tossed around so much these days, and there’s so many different ways to define it, but I can’t think of a better word here.
Just do what you know you gotta do. Don’t let fear hold you back. Because you know looking back on the journal or the photo album of your life… your future self will thank you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.