I don’t get much alone time, and recently my alone time to write has been reduced even more. On one of those treasured quiets moments, my eldest daughter came to me to discuss her future [and just like that, my quiet moment was over]. As I found this to be a heavy topic for a fourteen-year-old, I closed the computer and placed my phone on silent. She mentioned how her teachers were discussing colleges, possible fields to major in alternative career paths…and she felt lost. You see, though she had always mentioned a few potential career choices to consider when she grew up, she was now in an environment—and with the support system—that opened a world of options and removed many of the limitations that were previously seen as hindrances.
I smiled, noting how important this conversation was to her, and spoke openly and plainly as I could. In addition to telling her typical dictums (such as “the world is hers” and “though there may be obstacles, she could do and become anything she wanted to with hard work”), I told her the real unfiltered truth…that she had time to try and figure things out, that she didn’t have to settle with the easiest or first thing that came to mind, and that once it was legal, I would support her and have her back. [You may be wondering why I mentioned the legal aspect, but I do believe that if enough parents and guardians made this fact very clear to children (even as adults), there would be a lot less crap in the world. Kids need to know that if they choose to walk and remain in an illegal life, they can’t stay up under their mother’s wing. When they are wrong they better be strong, because they are going to be on their own.]
It would be a fairy tale if we all knew exactly what we would want to do for the rest of our lives by the time we were in the ninth grade. [My ninth-grade self would have been scared if I told her the path her life would take to get her to where she would be at my age.] There are those who do figure out their life’s path that early, but many of us do not. It does not mean that we are not focused; it could possibly mean that we are gifted in doing various things and find it hard to limit our purpose to just one thing [especially when others are already doing that one thing]. There may also be an unnamed, unknown itch within us that makes us uncomfortable with accepting any socially predetermined path set for us. You may not know why, but you always feel uneasy and unable to accept that you should follow the flock. You are not a pigeon or a sheep. You are you, and your purpose is greater than just being a member of any flock. Your timing and route to finding your purpose should not be predetermined by those around you or by society’s rules. There is no perfect way for everyone. Your path and your timing may not make sense to everyone else, but just as they can’t breathe your breath for you, so too they shouldn’t define your life for you.
In addition to not being restricted in choices, time, and environmental limits, I want all my children—and any of you reading this blog post—to know that when it comes to your career and ultimately your purpose [hopefully they are the same, though sometimes one just finances or trains you for the other], you shouldn’t feel as if you have to be locked in to doing just one thing or doing one thing for the rest of your life. As you mature and gain more of life’s experiences, your careers can and should also adapt and change into opportunities that you never thought could exist before. I need all of you to understand that making a particular decision at one point in your life does not mean that it is the end of all other options. There is no chain on your foot that is going to keep you prisoner to that desk, location or even that unhealthy relationship.
So, you dropped out of school or you got pregnant when you were young…that does not mean you must be satisfied with living paycheck-to-paycheck or working unfulfilling dead-end jobs. Or maybe you completed high school and went on to college where you majored in what you were directed/pressured to or what you thought was best for you at the time. Your present career path does not dictate your permanent life’s path and there is nothing that stipulates that you must remain in an unsatisfying and unchallenging job for the rest of your life. You don’t even have to apologize for wanting more or for wanting to be different. Just as God is allowing your lungs to breathe in oxygen every day, he is also giving you the right and the power to attain and live in your true purpose. You should never allow yourself to be limited by the past when there is a limitless future waiting for you once you make the choice to develop yourself and change direction.
Will everyone agree with your choices? No, they won’t. Some may come around; others may never agree, but you shouldn’t apologize for that either. It may mean that you don’t get to hang out with your friends every weekend…you may not even get to see them for a few months. You must make the decisions to ensure you have the future that you want to have. If people start noticing that you are not hanging around, calling them up or showing up to everything, feel free to tell them the truth. Simply say that you are working on some stuff and you won’t be around as much. If they are genuinely good people, they may offer to help.
This is where it may get a bit tricky…every kind heart isn’t always the right heart to be around. Some people may mean well, but they may end up being more of a distraction than an actual solution. For example, if your best friends offer to help you study, but always show up with a bottle of wine, you may want to ask them to babysit the kids instead [once they are sober and responsible around children, if not, hell no] or run a few errands so that you can go to the library. If you are starting a business and they offer to help you package items or get your website/storefront ready, but always show up hours late or start telling you that you should do less or even begin to downplay your ideas and vision, then that is the friend you do not assign tasks to. Some people may be better suited as your cheerleaders and not active participants. They are the ones who help you get your game face on, maybe send you the occasional inspirational videos and prayers, or call you in the middle of the day to remind you that you can do it.
Always keep in mind that no man is an island. However, if the people in your environment are not the type to encourage and promote your vision—especially to the level of efficiency or professionalism that you need to get it done—then you shouldn’t feel the need to compromise your standards just to keep individuals from your old path on your new journey. You may even have to end some relationships to find your purpose or to make necessary changes. There may be people within your inner circle who, though they may care for you, will try to keep you stifled in the box they pre-designed for you. They may see you only based on your past mistakes, your previous decisions and their limited vision for what they think you [or they] can/should achieve. You don’t have to apologize for walking away from these relationships. Everyone is not destined to walk through life with you. If they get uncomfortable or make you uncomfortable when you start discussing your visions or working on your goals, then you can say goodbye.
There are many who utilize the word “purpose” very often, as it is has become quite the buzzword. But what they tend not to tell you is that the walk towards and within your purpose is not a leisurely stroll. It is going to cause some tears to fall, some hearts may be broken, and it can be just downright harrowing…but know that there is a reason for your momentary pain and discomfort. These experiences are all preparation for and redirection to where God knows you should go. The one thing you should never do is feel sorry for walking in that purpose. At the end of the day, you cannot serve two masters—you cannot walk through life apologizing for your career/life choices because it makes someone uncomfortable when you should be more focused on what God thinks about your life. I need you to say out loud to yourself: “I am not going to apologize anymore for walking in the path that God has predestined for me.” If you are a little pig-headed like me, you may have to say it more than once…you may have to say it every day until it becomes part of the air that you breathe.
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