I am, by any modern world standards, a failure.
I do not have a job, I am single, I am housesitting to have somewhere to live and I have no plans to change these things. And yet, my friends envy me, shop assistants I chat with want my life and my optometrist could not believe how happy I was at my check up last week.
It’s because I have followed the one thing I am good at—living an unplanned life. A life with few goals, simple needs and much whimsy. Not actually an easy thing to do in this success-oriented modern world.
One of my very good friends is a well-known success coach. My ex-husband is an Olympic gold medal winning sports coach. One of his previous athletes is a very good friend of mine and happens to be one of those Olympic gold medal winners. My introduction to personal development was with these incredibly driven and successful people. There was a lot of focus on goals and purpose. I had neither and felt like a complete failure.
These people, whom I admired very much, taught that the way to happiness was in defining your passion, setting your goals and pursuing that relentlessly. But I could never figure out what those goals were supposed to be, or how I could even envision a future without having a clue what random things might happen between now and then.
I felt like I was lacking, failing for not being able to even identify my passions, let alone set a lifetime goal or define my purpose. I gradually came to realize though, that it was not a failing. Making goals just never felt like the right thing for me and I while I struggled with that for a long time, eventually, I have become happy with my goal-less life!
I am a feel-er and a be-er, rather than a do-er. I can’t make plans for next week, because I don’t know what next week feels like. I have trouble figuring out where to travel because I can look at places online, but that does not tell me what my experience there will be like.
All the internet talks about is what you can do and that, to me, is just details. I need “emotavision” to decide what works for me and even then, someone else’s version would not be the same as mine! On the few occasions I have booked trips ahead, I am inevitably under prepared, as I have not really gone through the details in my head, as I am waiting until I am there to experience it for myself. I turned up to trek to Everest base camp with one set of thermals (borrowed) and a few band-aids, to find everyone else had full medical kits and expensive trekking gear!
I have gradually learned to accept that while my version may not be the norm, it is perfectly right for me. I am not an entrepreneur, or employed at “self-employed and loving it” as so many of my friends are. I am a drifter, a supporter, there for an intense but brief period to help fix things to get things back on track, then gone. In fact, one of my favorite jobs has been temping!
I think we underestimate the importance of the support roles. We are taught that nothing less than being in charge, being a leader is enough. If we are not innovating, being our own boss, breaking the mold or captaining the team, we have somehow failed to make our life count.
But that is not the path for everyone. When I see stories about someone wanting to climb a mountain or sail an ocean, my inner voice just shrugs and laughs. When people talk about legacies or leaving their mark, my soul looks blank and does not understand what that feels like. (See, that feeling thing again!) I just do not connect with those things, but I completely accept them being important to others. I cannot emphasize enough that I am not dissing this path, just saying it does not ring my bell.
My bell chimes for feeling, floating, drifting. My bell rings randomly, at moments of experiencing, rather than achieving. My bell sings when it sees my soul, not my goals. My bell goes silent at the idea of schedules or commitment or striving.
And so I write this to anyone out there who reads this and connects. It is okay to follow the path that feels right for you. If you are not someone who can identify your “purpose” or set your life mission, you are doing completely fine! You are okay. You are purposeful and worthy, just as a different part of the big picture that is the human mural.
The world needs unplanners as much as planners. The world needs those who feel their way through as much as those who set goals and make them happen. The world needs you, just the way you are—unplanned, beautiful, happy, emotional, experiential and amazing.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wiki Commons