I walked out to the parking lot and mechanically hit the “unlock” button to my car.
Two times, for good measure. I opened the door and climbed into my transitional sanctuary. I shut the door, placed my purse on the seat, and turned on the ignition.
And then I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was so sick and tired of this job.
Screaming felt like the only thing I could do to get through the day sometimes. The busy work was driving me crazy, and I was in awe that I could be simultaneously so bored and so stressed at the same time.
What am I doing with my life???
I could feel my jaw releasing just a smidge from all the screaming. I took a breath. And screamed again.
I had to get the energy out somehow.
It felt like all day I was caged up inside myself. But it was getting harder and harder to deny it. So hard that I found myself routinely clenching my jaw, as if to keep the words I was dying to say from coming out of my mouth.
At the time, I didn’t know what those words were. It just felt like I was going round and round. I knew I needed to get out. I needed to feel like I was actually living. For me, making a difference is absolutely crucial to feel like I am alive.
Even in my darkest moments, most rife with internal strife, I have always loved this quote from Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
We all need this reminder. No matter where you live in the world, what you do for work, your current living conditions, your race, religion, socioeconomic class, or gender, all that we want is to come alive.
In order for me to get out, in order to feel like I was making a difference the world needed, I had to start asking myself, “What makes me come alive?”
Which was challenging enough, let alone engaging in the follow-up question of, “How do you then do that ‘come aliveness'”
For many of us, answering those questions doesn’t come easy. But with self-exploration, experimentation, and a willingness to keep engaging with those questions, the answer not only starts to only roll off your tongue, it rolls off your heart.
On my journey of answering this for myself, and working with others who want to do the same thing, a process unfolded.
It was hard for me to identify it at first, because it’s truly an iterative, rather than a linear, process. I felt like I was going back and forth, but gradually, over time, I found that I was spiraling in the direction that I wanted to go, the direction that felt more like “the real me.”
Coming alive is about going in, to get out. The stages I encountered on that journey were:
1. Healing from the inside.
When we find the question of “what makes us come alive” hard to answer, it’s because we have some old wounds to heal. Some junk that has piled up in our psyche that simply needs to be cleared out in order to see our bigger purpose. Digging below the surface and unearthing the root of our limiting stories about ourselves and the world creates a lot more space for that aliveness to grow.
The other aspect of this is that often what makes us come most alive is somehow related to our greatest suffering. Our struggles are the birthplace of our strength. We don’t have to continue to suffer, but we can acknowledge and learn from our pain in order to grow and give more aliveness to our life and the world.
2. Connecting to an authentic vision.
Connecting to your own authentic vision for what you wish to see in the world is inextricably linked to feeling alive. What is your “why,” your passion, your drive? What breaks your heart—and what mends it together? How specifically are you different, special, and unique? Gaining clarity on these questions gives you a vast source of energy for moving into what makes you come alive.
3. Sharing a sacred offering.
What is within you that you want to share with others? We all have something to contribute to the world, in our own unique way. This is what I call our “sacred offering”—our gift that we serve the world with. The giving of yourself—your real self—is what true service is all about. When we feel we serve an important purpose, we also feel more alive.
4. Creating an impact plan…and acting upon it!
In order to connect with that aliveness from your vision and gift, you need to get your hands on it, to bring what’s in your heart and mind into a tangible reality. Ideas can make us feel wonderful, but when we haven’t acted upon them, they lose steam and we can end up feeling deflated.
Taking action doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. In fact, the most impactful way you can share yourself, your vision, and your sacred offering with the world is through simplicity. What ways can you share that vision so that it gives you juice? I can guarantee that others will receive that energy as well.
Coming alive isn’t just for the elite, upper-class, or people with perceived power or resources. It’s not just for the lucky few who happened to land in a certain line of work, relationship, or living circumstances. It’s a basic human right.
This evolving process of engaging with your calling fuels itself.
The more you heal yourself, the clearer you can be on your authentic vision.
When you are connected to that bigger vision, you can be more congruent in your sacred offering.
When you stand fully behind that offering, you give yourself and others that aliveness, thus making a deep impact in this world.
That’s what really makes the world go round.
Author: Danielle LaRock
Image: Seth Doyle / Unsplash
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron
Social editor: Nicole Cameron