I was watching a show on television recently and saw a parent bragging about how their son was going to be a doctor. The problem – he was only two years old. It made me pause for a minute and what was something I may have found cute before had me hesitating and feeling a little sorry for the little boy. Why do you ask? Well, to me it was an indication the parents were already setting expectations for the child to try and live up to. Now, let me be clear. I am not saying this is true of all parents who make comments like this at times. I am not a parent and don’t pretend to be one because I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night so this is most certainly not a lesson in parenting. It was an observation of something that could very well be completely innocent. However, it helped lead me to a clarifying moment about something that has been gnawing at me for some time.
I reflect back and look at some of the crossroad points in my life and l have to realize at times I did one of two things. One, I took the safe/expected route or two, I let someone else’s comments make a decision for me instead of pursuing what I wanted at the time. I know I wouldn’t have my life today with my husband, dog and our farm here in Kentucky if I wouldn’t have taken the course I did so understand this isn’t about anything I regret. What this reflection has done is make me want to look a little harder at decisions I need to make now and going forward. It makes me want to reconsider some of the interests I had when I was younger and put aside. Were those things something I should pursue now because I was truly passionate about them or were some of them a fleeting interest I should just leave alone?
I honestly believe many things we come across in our lives have consistent themes even though the opportunities presented may not be identical. For example, if you were a volunteer at your local food bank when you were a teen, the desire to serve your community may be a recurring theme as you continue on your life and it may surface by serving on the board of a local non-profit, donating clothing to a charity or leading a food drive. By identifying the themes that “sing the loudest” to our spirits, we can focus our energy on the things that matter to us the most and embrace the ones we should pursue.
How do you go about that? I can’t guarantee this will work, but this is what I’m going to try for myself. First, I’m going to make three lists taking 2 minutes to create each list – writing down one for my interests from under the age of 12, one for my teens, and one for my 20s. Understanding my recollection of the activities I was involved in and enjoyed the most may hit the list the fastest and will give me some of the insight I need. For myself, I think I know what one or two of my themes may be, but until I do it, I may find myself a little surprised. For you, you may find an interest in the outdoors, community service, being an artist, or a desire to be a teacher. You just never know. I will happily share the results of my exercise once I’m done with anyone interested.
Even if you don’t want to do the exercise with me, I encourage you to take a look at your own life. Who set the course you are walking on today – did you or was it at the suggestion of someone else? Are you happy where you are and living the life you want to lead? I think we all deserve to be happy and that comes from being true to ourselves and who we each are. If you are walking a path in life in which you are enriched and living life to its fullest and our paths happen to converge, I look forward to sharing the road and enjoying your company along the way. If not, I wish you all the success in the world as you find the courage to plot your own course and find your own way.
P.S. – an elephant update – looking for new ways to coax the elephant out of the room as he has sat himself down. Following the suggestion of some others, I am hoping this new option will start to move it back out of the room.