As I cleaned my house while listening to Dean Dwyer’s “Make Shift Happen” podcast, I heard the most amazing sentence. Dean, a writer, blogger, podcaster and online educator, broke life down with just a few words:
“You want to find your purpose in life? Stop thinking so literally!”
Wow. That really hit me in the gut and caused my heart to swell to an unfathomable size. As soon as I heard those words, I knew exactly what Dean was trying to portray. We all go through life thinking that the only way we can find our purpose is to decide on what we want to do, what we are great at doing, and what calls to us. This is the way it should be. But, when we make that list of what ignites our passion, we keep the titles as literal as possible. Teacher, writer, biologist, etc; the titles are plain yet we are never “plain” people. What if we are meant to be something that has no original title? What if our purpose is something that we will have to create ourselves? Or, what if the plain titles that we decide on need to be more elaborate to fit what’s in store for us?
For example, I love to teach. I have had the idea of being an English teacher in my heart since high school. I was an English major in college, and I always thought that I would become the high school English teacher that looked like one of students, but was just as hard as someone who’s taught for 20 years. I was sure that was my purpose. As I took the steps to pursue that purpose, I felt murky inside. Something wasn’t adding up. As an introvert, the idea of standing in front of 20 to 30 teenagers, everyday, trying to convince them of the literary genius of Roald Dahl, Toni Morrison and my man, Billy Shakes (that’s William Shakespeare to you) didn’t sit well with me. It gave me an anxiety attack. But, this was the only way I could teach the things I knew, right?
After years of writing on my small corner of the internet, and becoming more in tune with my love of create YouTube videos, I’ve realized that I AM a teacher. I’m exactly what I sought out to be. I’ve been blessed to speak at two conferences this year, and while those experiences caused mild heart palpitations, I felt that passion to teach yet again. My view of the literal word of “teacher” has been changed, and I realize that my purpose (for now) has been found. I spent 2013 allowing myself to place only a few key experiences and opportunities into my “cubbyhole” of life, and it turned out that life was showing me exactly what my purpose has been this whole time. It was also pushing me into creating my own title for what I have been providing to my online and offline community. If I had been caught up in the literal definition of teacher, I never would have allowed myself to do most of the things I’ve done this year.
As we start to wind down at the end of this year and think about what we would like to contribute to the world within the next, I make this plea to you. Are you on a journey to find your purpose? Look back at what you’ve accomplished this year. Take the literal out of what you want to become in the future. Elaborate on what your best qualities are, and intertwine them into your passions.