How To Define Yourself

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” -- Rumi

How does the saying go? When we make plans, God laughs? You get my gist. I made a plan, I talked about it, and… poof, now the plan isn’t happening anymore. It has fallen through. And that’s okay. In the past, I would’ve credited this falling-through to my talking about it, to my allowing myself to be excited about a new opportunity. In the past, I wouldn’t have been open about my excitement and I wouldn’t have talked about my plans or dreams exactly because of what has happened to me now:  the plan fell through. But you know what? I don’t regret sharing my excitement and my process, because I know that my being vulnerable has nothing to do with my plans falling through.

My plans, i.e. my transitioning to a new job in line with my morals and values, are no longer happening. What I was so excited about has disappeared. But I am going to be okay, and not only am I going to be okay, I actually feel a sense of relief. Just because the potential job was in a beautiful setting and in line with my beliefs, that does not mean that it was necessarily a good fit for me. I won’t get into the details out of respect, but I will say that when what we have planned for dissolves, we can be broken, or we can view it as an opportunity to start over. To start dreaming again, to get back in touch with what we really want.

But how do we know what we really want? I have experienced some trickiness in trying to figure out what I want to “do” for a living. And it is because in our society we usually have to pick one thing we’re good at, or one thing we’re interested in. Just one. But we’re multi-faceted human beings with multiple interests and, if you’re anything like me, interests can change daily. Passions can fade or intensify or change completely.

Choosing what and who we want to be should be an exciting, fun, creative endeavor in our lives, but instead we can get caught up in trying to shape and mold our passions and dreams into an acceptable form, into a tidy box.

It’s difficult because on one hand I want stability and security, for I have lacked both for most of my life, but on the other hand I embrace creativity and crave flexibility. How to find a career that answers both of these desires? I don’t know. But I do know that this time around, I am going to do things differently. Going through this recent experience of thinking I had a sure thing and all of a sudden the situation altering shape completely, I have learned a few things. Things that I am grateful to now know. I don’t necessarily believe that everything happens for a reason, but I now choose to view occurrences in life as learning opportunities rather than merely stumbling blocks. Life is mysterious and confounding and beautiful. Often things can’t be explained.

So this time around, when searching for my career and continuing my personal quest to improve my life, I am going to approach things openly, gently, intuitively. I am not going to overthink things, instead I am going to trust my intuition. I am not going to stress out, because I know that stressing out doesn’t get me anywhere but reaching for a cigarette (it’s been over a month since I quit!). I am going to seek out whatever sounds interesting, enriching, challenging, enlightening. I am going to remember what I said at the very beginning of my search, before I got caught up:  I can, will, and should be picky. I will be “realistic” about life (kind of), but I will also believe that I will find and that I am worthy of an endeavor that fulfills me in some way.

Though I am recommitting to being picky, I am also committing to being open-minded. I am going to attempt to see things from all angles, to not immediately dismiss a potential job because it does not fit into the view I have for myself. I am fascinated by so many different things, why not be open to trying some new things as well? To keep widening the purview, to keep expanding the horizon? We don’t have to keep squeezing ourselves into these little boxes that are set out before us. We can break the boxes apart and put a couple of them together to make a bigger box. A box with wiggle room. Or we can kick those boxes over. It’s up to us.