When I was a wee one, my mom used to take me to the dry cleaners to pick up my dad's shirts. "What's your name little boy?" the clerk asked. That was the second worst thing a grown-up ever said to me.
I had a bowl cut in the early 80s okay? I'm over it....really I am.
But that wasn't the worst thing an adult ever said to me. This was:
You can be anything you want to be.
I imagine the dreaded phrase whispered to me since birth, meaning I've carried this particular curse for thirty-five years. Be anything you want Karen. You can do anything. You can be anything.
For a kid like me, with built-in natural curiosity, this was a recipe for disaster. If the person at the ice cream store had a particular flair for scooping chocolate, I saw Baskin-Robbins in my future. I remember the year I spent convinced that I wanted to be an airline pilot. I have no idea what this was based on, probably nothing more than looking up in the sky and seeing a contrail. Train conductor might've made sense. I love trains. I hate flying. But a pilot I will be, I said to myself in my best Yoda voice.
Here's what I wish adults had said to me instead:
There is only one thing you can be. Your job, little one, is to figure out what that one thing is.
Dharma. Purpose. Talent Destiny. Call it what you will, but finding mine has made all the difference.
There is a seed, within all of us, and our job is to water that seed, and that seed only. We talk to students and our children about choosing a career. We don't tell them that a career has already chosen them.
This message, I fear, is one that our society sometimes shares with adults who are dissatisfied with their careers, but it isn't one that I see shared with our kids or our teenagers. There are millions of young people trying to apply logic to their career decision-making process. Others throw spaghetti at their career wall to see what sticks because we have told them to pick from an infinite list of possibilities. We grown-ups have thrown a needle in the haystack and then we stand back and wonder why it's taking students so long to decide on their future.
All the while, there is only one thing they are meant to be, one thing they were born to be.
This isn't to say that there is a specific job in an office on the corner of Grant and Lincoln that you should apply for and work in for the next fifty years. What it means is that you have a gift, a natural talent, a proclivity that returns to you time and again whether you are getting paid to do it or not. My talent is coaching and advising. When I run into a former student in the grocery store, a coaching session ensues for the next ten minutes. Last week I ran into an old friend in yoga class. She has a new job. "Do you like your job?" I asked. She does. "Is supervising people a challenge?" It is. "Your personality and sense of humor sound like a great fit for this position." She agreed. "Sorry to interrogate you, coaching is kind of my thing," I explained.
When I told my friends I was starting my own business, three of them guessed that it would be as some sort of coach. And like me, you too have this one thing that people notice, one thing that jumps out of you rain or shine, day or night, at the grocery store or yoga studio. One thing that makes time fly and stop all at the same time.
Find your one thing. Or ask a friend or coach to help you find it. :)
This blog is focused on exploring ideas around yoga, career, intuition, purpose, and passion. Please leave a comment. Namaste.