My ears used to perk up whenever I heard someone refer to him or herself as a “seeker.”
Because I could instantly relate to them, perhaps in the same way that you can to me.
I understood what it was like to be looking for something, but never really knowing what that was.
This was not something that affected my life lightly—rather, it was the reason I read hundreds of books, asked more questions than anyone I knew, burned through relationships and academia. I moved an impressive 24 times in my 20s.
My need to find something was like an affliction. It was a fire that burned through every aspect of my life and still fuels me to this day.
I heard people say that they were “trying to find themselves,” and this never really made sense to me. My search was always for other people with whom I could truly relate. I sought to understand my purpose in life, and to know just why, bloody why, we are all in this crazy world.
In a nutshell, my search was for truth.
I needed to know.
I knew other people who had firm beliefs about everything existential, but none of it got close to resonating with me. Some others didn’t seem to care enough to want beliefs of this nature, but these questions had plagued me since I was 12 years old.
I was like the poor bumble bee caught in the small glass jar. Buzzing around, constantly bouncing off of whatever invisible boundary had been set for me in whichever moment prior to my changing direction.
Granted, I learned a lot from this, and typically there were varying levels of pain involved, as one could imagine there would be when learning means hitting against an imaginary wall.
I learned a lot about what I did not want—in fact, I could write volumes on what I have learned that I do not want in my life, as you likely could as well. From potential partners, to college degrees, random vices and even styles of yoga, I have learned that there is about as much in this world that is not right for me as there are stars in our sky.
With this information, and, admittedly, a lot of exhaustion and frequent burnouts along the way, I finally came to the realization that there was a better way to proceed.
Picture this: First, take all of the “mistakes,” or things that we have realized along the way we don’t want, and view them as information. Take away the emotion—the shame, the regret, maybe even depression or anxiety—and view this too as information that we can use to teach ourselves.
Imagine yourself on a giant compass.
You’re standing with your back up against W for West, and your information tells you that West does not work for you. You perhaps even fell flat on your face with West. The options at this point are daunting, because you know you don’t want to go West, but without real inner guidance you will randomly start sputtering in any other direction—just because it isn’t West.
This was how I spent my 20s. I was running away from everything that didn’t work for me, but sadly that is all the direction I had.
While we can truly learn from what we don’t want, life is too short to go through all of them. Life can be different. There are a trillion things in this world that we don’t want, right?
We can be much more effective if we choose to be intentional about moving directly toward, and aligning with, what we really want in life, rather than what we don’t want.
There is a huge difference.
So, how do we figure this out?
First, by slowing down.
By listening—mostly to ourselves.
By realizing that in stillness comes some of our greatest answers, and even by paying attention to the way our bodies react when we think about certain things.
Sometimes I think about an idea or decision that I am contemplating. Be it a date with someone new or a certain work endeavor, I find some stillness, think about that subject and pay attention to how my body reacts.
Do I feel a slight constricting in my abdomen? Is that quiet, subtle voice of intuition saying “yes” or “don’t do it?”
Being discerning about our emotions and paying attention to what excites us, we can choose when to go for it, with everything that we have.
This path is not always straight, but what is important is that we are using our intentions to move toward what we want in our lives, rather than running away in a directionless manner from what did not work out for us. And if we still don’t know what that is, then stillness can be a much better alternative to busily buzzing around like a bumble bee until we do, no?
We are constantly evolving and learning more about ourselves; conditions can shift—it is important that we remain agile, and open to possibility when it arises.
The key is to love ourselves enough to listen to ourselves, to have grace, and to never judge ourselves or listen to the judgments of others. This is what it means to live intentionally and authentically.
Following the direction of our inner compass is not something that will ever lead us to a specific destination, but rather align us with that path that we were meant to follow.
The energy that we perhaps once expended seeking in places where we would not find what we were looking for can be used in a better way, and we can feel confident and, in the end, much lighter, even more playful.
Using our inner compass and turning toward what we want can pertain to all aspects of our lives. It is not just our career, or our partner, or anything specific, but rather a beautiful collaboration of it all—a picture that only you can paint along the way, that will bring balance, ease and ultimately a life lived to the fullest.
Author: Katie Vessel
Apprentice Editor: Toby Israel/ Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock