What am I meant to do with my life?
I've asked this question of myself often enough. I'm sure at some point everyone has asked this question. What am I meant to do? What is my destiny? How will I find it? What career path should I take? Should I get married, should I have children, should I move to Italy? Why is it that we have this underlying feeling that there is one right choice? One choice that's itching to be discovered and realized. Waiting for the light to be shed.
If you're anything like me you grew up being told you could do or be anything. This is certainly a nice thing to be told. It's motivating, supportive; it opens your mind to possibilities but it also opens you up to indecision and doubt. If I can choose from anything what if I choose wrong? What if that's not what I'm "meant" to do? Like there's one solitary thing each of us is meant for and if we diverge from that path we've wasted our life on the meaningless.
Now I don't know, maybe we are meant to follow one path, to achieve one goal. If that's the case then that's a whole lot of pressure. I'm starting to lean towards the idea that there's not one thing we're meant for. Maybe this is hopeful wishing but as I think more about life it seems the more logical answer in both a practical way and a spiritual. If God wanted us to achieve or experience one particular lifestyle or job wouldn't he set things up so that we fall into line without question? Wouldn't we be without free will?
They always say something along the lines of it's not about what you do but how you do it. Are you giving your full effort? Are you positive? Are you kind, patient, honest? This was always a nice concept but I never fully felt or believed it until I attended a Vipassana meditation course. During this 10-day silent retreat where you essentially do nothing but meditate, you learn to observe reality. You focus on your breath, on your physical sensations and experience them without aversion or attachment. You learn to be fully in the present moment and you realize on a physical level as well as mental that it is in fact about the how rather than the what. It's how you approach life rather than what you approach.
You can have all the outward success in the world; money, fame, rank, job security, but if you're not living your day to day life from a positive place, from a place where you're present and living your best self then what's it all worth? It may sound sentimental or bland but it's not the concrete titles and list of worldly achievements that matter but the way you feel, the way you make people feel, the energy you put out into the world.
If this is the case then it really doesn't matter what you do, if you study law or acting, if you have two children or four. Maybe we aren't necessarily meant for anything specific, at least not on the obvious physical level we measure things by. Maybe we're meant to experience and learn things but maybe we should be looking at a deeper broader level. Perhaps we're meant to learn about love, about forgiveness, about courage, about beauty, about handling obstacles and fear.
There are multiple paths that can lead to these experiences. You can learn about beauty by creating music or studying architecture. You can learn patience by becoming a teacher or a mother. You can experience courage by moving to a foreign land or by mastering public speaking. If we look at life this way, where in a way yes we do want to gain a certain insight or master a particular skill, but we have the freedom to accomplish this through various means, then we can relax a little. There's not this be all do all pressure. We can stop measuring our lives by the social standards of hierarchy, material possession, and outward "success." We can start measuring our lives by how much we grow emotionally, mentally, spiritually and how much of a positive affect we have on others. These are more abstract units of measurement. They're not as visible to the naked eye. You may not get accolades and rewards for such achievements, but by making this our focus we can let go of this enormous burden of thinking we must chose one thing, must follow one correct path.
This isn't to say that one job or lifestyle may not suit you better than another. One option may help you advance at a quicker easier pace. It may allow you to be a naturally kinder happier person. If you're passionate about something there's usually a reason why and you should follow it, but for those of us who don't have that burning itch to follow a specific dream or for those who are caught in a web of dreams and are unsure of which to follow, then we shouldn't beat ourselves up so much. As long as we're trying to make use of the gifts we've been given and are giving back to others and are approaching life in a positive open way then we're doing what we're meant to do. It doesn't matter which path we take to get there it just matters that we're here, living, growing, making an effort and trying to make the most of our given time.