When I was a senior in high school, I remember a conversation with a friend. She was tearful and distressed, saying we were about to go out into the world and she didn’t know who she was. What was she supposed to do with herself? I didn’t get it. I told her her name and said, “That’s who you are.” I told her she could get a job or go to college. What else did she need to know? I didn’t get it.
Remember the adage, too soon old, too late smart? That’s me.
In the decades since the conversation, the light finally dawned on me. She wasn’t asking what her name was. She wasn’t asking me what she should do after graduation. She was asking a deeper question. She wanted to know what her purpose in life was and what she was meant to be.
Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. I was always a little envious of them because they got right to business from the get-go. But a lot of people like me wander through life looking for who they are on the inside. Searching for that one passion that will fulfill them.
This search for who we are is a journey of exploration. Before us, we have paths taking off in every direction. The best part is that starting on one path doesn’t mean you have to stay on it. If you find you don’t like the direction you’re going, cut across to another path and try it out. We have the freedom to explore new paths and directions.
When people tell you to pursue your passion, do it. If you don’t know what it is, search for it until you find it. Don’t get impatient. Enjoy the journey, the search, and the surprises.
Even if you have to work at a job less than fulfilling (bills have to be paid, you know), stick with the search. I knew early in my working career what I wanted to do, but it took me many years to get the job that got me there. It was worth the wait. I don’t regret anything I did to get there. The many paths taken and the learning experiences helped me become smarter. I hope.
I’ve not seen my friend since high-school graduation, but I hope she discovered her passion and is happily living it out.