This morning I was listening to John Wait’s Missing You which apparently led me into a morning of self-reflection. The kids have been sick the past couple of days and as a result we have had the opportunity to completely slow down, which has given me time to reflect and read and work and play. Listening to this song this morning made me think of who-I-used-to-be. I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about who-I-really-am and how do I get to living that authentic life on a continuous basis. Lately I’ve realized that who-I-used-to-be and who-I-really-am are actually pretty close to the same thing.
In my mid 20s I made 4 major decisions that altered the course of my life. It doesn’t really matter what those decisions were – they were made long ago and with the best of intentions for my future, but as a result of those choices I went from a life on purpose to a life on default.
What does that mean? I used to be a dreamer, I had ideas of doing fun-filled and exciting things with my life. They were always a little unconventional, but being a bit different was something I used to embrace about myself. I may not always have been 100% sure about where the path I was on was going to take me, but I always was certain that I was enjoying the ride there.
When I switched to a life on default, I gave up on my dreams, I decided to take the safe route and choose stability over dreams and fun. Although I had no idea at the time, the result of this meant I was no longer being authentic to myself. Instead of being the star of my own life I chose to become a supporting character in other people’s lives. So, instead of writing my own life story on purpose the things that happened in my life happened in a supporting role, on default.
The result of this is that I have become one of those women in their 40s sitting with a basket full of unfulfilled dreams. The good thing is that I have now realized that I am the author of my own life story and that it is not only possible, but necessary for me to live a life on purpose. To realize that I can live with intention and passion and joy because all of that is my birthright.
I took the kids home this summer for our longest trip back in 9 years. Those 9 years have been fun, busy child-raising years – but they also have been difficult and unsettling years. We have moved several times – across Canada and to two different states. I really wanted them home for an extended time for many reasons, but one of them was that I wanted them to get to see who-I-used-to-be. I felt that they only knew a stressed out and unsettled mom and I thought it was important that they knew that I used to be a fearless badass. The unexpected bonus of this trip was that *I* remembered who-I-used-to-be and realized that that still is who-I-really-am.
If I could rewind time I would go back and do the opposite of those 4 choices I made. But, there are many things about the life that I live now that are wonderful and beautiful and fun and I would never, ever trade them for the world. So, I will live with the life I’ve created quite happily. However, it’s wonderful to know that I now also have the ability to create my own future.
I thought taking the safe route would lead to security and stability and in reality it did exactly the opposite. Which, as I was singing badly but happily (even more happily when the kids started covering their ears telling me to stop, because that is funny) to my song this morning, made me think “If I had followed those dreams earlier in life I probably wouldn’t be in any worse shape than I am now, except I would have known that I tried.” Instead of that being a sad thought it was actually quite empowering. What do I have to lose now by following dreams? Seriously.
I think it’s freaking awesome that we all get to write our own life stories and that we can choose to live our life on purpose!