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December 21, 2021

What a Successful Journalist taught me about Perfectionism & our Life Mission.

 

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It’s not always easy to know what we want to do, merging our dreams with the expectations of others and society. 

Especially since we are a generation that dreams big and whose dreams are no longer adapted to the life around us.

When I started my third year of university, I realized I didn’t like what I was studying. I cried most of the time before my lessons. And I knew that many students were feeling the same as me.

That’s why, to get out of this infernal circle of studies and frustration, I wanted to take hope and courage from elsewhere by giving my energy to something meaningful to me, not solely getting drunk with friends on weekends. 

I read a lot about self-help, the meaning of life, and philosophy. I also organized conferences with my best friend on the theme of dreaming and succeeding to share the knowledge I had acquired through my readings. 

We had several fascinating speakers who spoke about their paths, all different from the “typical” success story—those who succeeded without having diplomas, those who changed jobs a dozen times, or those who opposed their parents’ wishes to choose their dreams above all. 

All of them were fascinating and proved that each of us could succeed in one way or another with passion, will, and desire.

A few years passed after these events, and as my studies ended, I had to look to my future and decide what I was going to do with my life. I was quite lost to tell you the truth. Like the typical human being that I am, time had erased some of the wisdom that I had gained from what I had accomplished, and societal norms were taking over in my head. My doubts mixed with my fears, my expectations of life, my desires. 

These were fading and disappearing, giving way to many forms of anxiety. I felt lost, sometimes useless, and abandoned. I was looking for this hidden meaning that I saw present in the lives of others but absent in my own. 

I questioned myself, my passions, my desires. At the same time, I was going through a kind of difficult breakup that put even more limits in me, in my capacities, in who I was, and what I was going to accomplish, alone, relying solely on my own strength and willpower. 

At times, a little glimmer of hope would light up in me, and I would set myself a goal yet after a few days, I would no longer focus on it. I understood that setting goals was making choices, which I didn’t know how to do. To find my way, find meaning, and find a path was to create many choices, which made me even more anxious and separated me from my being, which is so much more than that.

I got an email from my school telling me that I didn’t turn in an important graded assignment. This assignment was supposed to be an interview with a professional to improvise the direction I wanted to take. Thanks to the compassion of my advisor (it doesn’t happen often, I’m lucky, I know), I was given some extra time to do it. 

Caught off guard, I decided to interview my internship manager. I was so inspired by what I had heard about her journey. I divided the interview into two parts, one describing her background and the other her life mission due to that background. I didn’t think that her answers would ignite a glimmer of hope in me and give me confidence in my future and myself. 

She has lived in countless countries as a journalist, met incredible people, and worked for newspapers that we read every day. Yet, when asked about her life mission, she told me that she didn’t have one, not because she hadn’t looked for it or found it, but because she had never seen it that way.

She had never asked herself what her life mission was and how to follow it, but rather she asked herself, “What can I bring to the world, now?”

“Because in reality, having a life mission and seeking it closes everything to you. We think about a life mission as if we absolutely have to find it and are all responsible for finding one. But that makes it too stressful. Doesn’t it?”

Well, yes, so simple and obvious coming out of her mouth. And I can attest. My summer was plagued with anxious thoughts about it. She told me that the doors opened to her little by little, without overthinking about it. She was doing what she wanted and what made her happy, which opened countless possibilities and encounters. In her opinion, asking ourselves what our life mission is is very self-centered and is about what we want from the world and life.

Instead maybe we need to be saying, what does the world need from me? In a way, it’s about purely giving and not expecting life and the world to give to us. 

That removes a mental load, expectations, desires, needs. She is in a dynamic where she doesn’t expect anything, she just gives, creates, does. And by doing so, it has naturally created her path.

Now, everything makes sense (wow). 

We will have more confidence in ourselves because we will not have any expectations of ourselves. We will have more confidence in life because we will not have any expectations of it, and we will always find a goal because the goal will be the actions we take in the moment. And each of these situations will serve us. We will meet new people, we will increase our skills, and will automatically create new goals. 

It’s like a virtuous circle.

She told me that we will always go further than people who plan everything perfectly by doing this. Because those people are always waiting for the right moment, the ideal situation. But the perfect moment doesn’t exist, and the perfect job doesn’t exist. The perfect mission doesn’t exist either. 

This is how we become eternally dissatisfied. What is perfect is all the way, all the encounters, all the jobs, the accumulated missions, all the things we felt like doing and bringing to others and the world at that moment.

My last lightbulb moment was followed by a second conversation with her several months later. She told me about a loved one she cared about who had a serious illness. She said something that struck me again.

“What I love about him is that he never had any goals or big ambitions. Yet, he accomplished wonderful things. He did everything he dreamed of doing and traveled all over the world. But he lived in the moment, and he said that setting goals made him lose focus of today. That his goals were to be present.”

And he still managed to do what he wanted to do with his life. He accepted when it didn’t work out because he had no ideals. Anything new he took with joy and an open heart because he had no disappointment or excitement. Of course, he had not imagined anything.

And that’s when I realized that I was wrong—wrong for setting objectives for myself because they would stress me out, make me anxious, disappoint me, or make me wait for something.

I was wrong to focus on the finish line when the most beautiful part is the path.

So, yes, I must organize my future, but I do it with more lightness. Instead of thinking about the long term, I want to think about the short term. And this will be what defines my plans.

In one, two, or three years, I will see, and I will surely look back and say to myself that my life mission was not unique but that I had numerous and that they were the steps that created my path.

I want to end these few words by underlining the fact that plenty of people are very happy in their job, who study, and who knew what they wanted to do from a young age without ever questioning it too much. 

These thoughts come from the head of a hypersensitive perfectionist who thinks a little too much. So, to the hypersensitive, overthinking perfectionists, those who knew but don’t know anymore, those who believed but don’t believe anymore, those who have the same fears, doubts, or passion for life—I hope that this was able to soothe you in some way.

~

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