What does it mean to be different? For most of us, it means discomfort. Being different goes against our human tendency toward community and group acceptance. It feels awkward, unsettling, like an itchy sweater we’d just as soon trade out for that well-worn soft one in the bottom drawer.
But sometimes ‘different’ is the only way to break the cycle and open us up to new possibilities.
I took an opportunity four years ago to look at how I could do things differently with regard to each one of my core identities: executive, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, individual. My purpose was to see if I could be more loving, cultivate more joy, feel happier, and not constantly feel pressed for time wondering how I was going to GET IT ALL DONE. I yearned to feel successful across all of the most important areas my life.
The inquiry has taken me to some extraordinary places, including looking deeper into my own definition of success at the authentic self level. Without this inquiry, I noticed that years can be spent chasing what has been dictated by the world at large and fueled by a desire to make everyone else happy. The process is still unfolding each day, but I can say that sitting with some key questions has made all the difference.
- Where am I spending my energy?
- Where in my life do I feel a sense of wellbeing?
- Is my work rewarding?
- Am I creating space for the things that bring me joy?
- How am I blocking myself from my own goals?
Success as defined by others’ expectations is often disconnected from what brings us feelings of wellbeing and purpose. That’s why we cling to a range of numbing behaviors to escape from our own lives (antidepressants, overeating, over drinking, and a multitude of other distractions). Author Elizabeth Gilbert posted on the idea of letting go of trying so hard to be “good every waking moment,” to explore the idea of how much better it feels to be free. I love that.
Dare to ask the questions and listen to the answers that are true for you.
Make your own inquiries and maybe even challenge existing ideas. Stop repeating the same disappointing patterns. Dare to take an approach that allows you to live from a place of empowerment and inspiration, rather than victimhood. Playing the victim is a distortion. It’s not who you are or who you were created to be.
*Inspired by a calendar created by Jacquelyn, a Keenan realizing her own fullest potential.