For years of our lives, if we grow up in the western educational system, we are directed. Spoon-fed, if you will, what we need to learn, how we ought to learn it, and then what’s needed to prove we know it. And we’re told, to keep going down this path. Shown that jobs like this and that are the right ones to get to stabilize ourselves in the society and economy that we’re living within. Taught to succeed in the systems and structures that are already in place. But then, at one point or another, other possibilities of how to do this life thing might start to leak in. And once that trajectory starts to split into multiple veins, once we get exposed to other routes, other options, once questioning and doubts arise, we might realize we don’t know how to navigate this more wild terrain. If we’ve been trained to move in one way, but now our intuition is telling us to stray from that path, how do we learn (or perhaps unlearn) how to move in a way we’ve never really moved before?
At age 23, as my first career as an engineer was leading me into the depths of depression, a question landed in my field:
What is a life worth living? And is the life I’m choosing to live, one that I believe to be worthy of this gift of life?
I saw that the path that I’d been led down, the one that I achieved success through, wasn’t at all fulfilling. In this questioning, I realized that sitting at a desk for hours of this fleeting life working for an organization that I didn’t much feel benefited the overall world, just wasn’t quite fitting the picture. That, at the end of the day, I didn’t quite feel ALIVE. And a life worth living seemed to be one that was filled with aliveness, with passion, with joy, with heart! And so I started walking into the wild jungle of the unknown. I started to get curious about the stories I’d been told about the life I was supposed to live, and came to find that many of the basic beliefs of those stories didn’t align with the life I had in mind for myself. And while a deeper guidance was emerging within me that urged me to move in a new, broader direction, I found loads of self-doubt and fear arise as I started to walk this unknown path on my own.
It’s not easy to walk in a direction that seems to stray away from the pack.
We, as humans, are born from tribal nature, we inherently long to belong.
And to start swimming downstream, when everyone else seems to be swimming upstream, can be terribly confusing. So not only is it walking a path that is being defined by your every step, that no one else can actually define for you, that no one has ever walked before, but there is a boldness and a trust that is absolutely required to keep walking.
So…how do you keep walking? How do you figure out where to place your next step? How do keep going if you don’t entirely know where you’re going?
[Hint: Read Waking Up….Part 2]
Photo Credit: Artist Unknown