Some of us feel perpetually unfinished, halfway between where we were and where we want to end up. As disconcerting as it can be, I believe THIS is who we actually are—the perpetually unfinished, the constantly becoming, the never-dried-out lumps of clay.
A quick search on Google or YouTube (the two biggest search engines in the world) will show you how many people are looking to know “who am I?” I have to tell you, after watching some of the videos and reading a few of the articles, the only thing that seems to be certain is that we have lots of guesses about who we are, and ultimately one of the best parts of life is not really knowing for sure. No one has ONE life purpose, and that is the best news of all!
So I’d like to offer a fresh way of thinking about this that has helped me so much. When you feel yourself needing to know for sure who you are and what your purpose in life is . . . ask yourself these 5 questions.
1. What if I really don’t need to know exactly who I am RIGHT NOW?
You are going to change. You’ve already been so many different versions of yourself along the way. You’ve learned so much from every stage of your life. You’ve learned from every experience inside that stage. This will continue. You will keep becoming different versions of yourself naturally, in every stage. This is who you are. Allow yourself the ability to change your mind, change your focus, and reinvent yourself when it feels like the right thing to do.
2. What if I really don’t need to know my exact purpose in life RIGHT NOW?
Your life purpose is going to change during every stage of life. Sometimes your purpose is really clear, and sometimes it feels really ambiguous. Life is about experiences—that teach you, shape you, and grow you. There are some stages in life when our life purpose is literally to EXPERIENCE whatever we are currently going through. And we ace this purpose when we simply allow ourselves to experience life and let all the other expectations go. What if the only purpose that remained the same throughout life was this one—that your purpose is to EXPERIENCE life and do the best you can with whatever comes along?
3. What if I really don’t need to define exactly what I want in life RIGHT NOW?
It’s okay to change your mind. We are constantly needing to change, readjust, reinvent, reprioritize. Because that is what is happening in our environment—the world, the country, our culture, technology—all of it is changing at an unprecedented rate. When we have to change our course, it doesn’t mean we are failing, it means that as we flow in an environment that’s impossible to control or predict, we have to be open to new solutions we may not have even known existed.
4. What if I really don’t need to know exactly what’s going to happen next in my life?
I think we can pretend we can know if we “do all the right things.” But let’s be honest . . . do we ever really know? Isn’t it funny? Take a bird’s-eye view of your life and try to just see it as a comedy show for a minute. Think back on 5 years ago and even with your very best tries, your most calculated effort, your most meticulous plans—are you anywhere near where you thought you would be? Is life the way you thought it would look? When we think we “have to know,” it causes procrastination, panic, endless searching, feelings of failure, and paralyzation. Who needs that? Do your best and then let life surprise you a little bit.
5. I wonder if I could relax into not knowing and just EXPERIENCE my life for a while?
Imagine what you could learn and what you could figure out if you actually went out and did things experientially, based more on your values mixed with your curiosity?
Define your values, your non-negotiables. But think through those, too. Make sure they’re yours and they make sense to you. Know that those might change along the way too, as you learn, grow, become and experience more.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. KNOW that you will make mistakes; you will not always hit your target; you will forget things; you will fall down. Plan for that. It happens to everyone. You get to try again; you get to keep practicing. It’s all good.
ONE MORE THING, friend. Listen closely, okay? YOU ARE DOING SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE.
Life isn’t easy, and you’re showing up for it every day. Who you are is a human being who is learning, growing, and becoming . . . the rest of it is unfinished—and that is wonderful because that means you get to keep experiencing life. You get to keep trying things out, until you land on what makes sense for you, and then you get to keep trying even after that. Enjoy it.
You are loved and you are going to be okay.