When I pursued my first college degree it was out of necessity. Any job I wanted required a 4 year degree. It took me a while working at it part time while working full time but I achieved that degree. It has helped me in my career and has helped with salary over the years. The guidance I had was to get a basic business degree or a degree in just about anything so long as you have one. Then you can move about the corporate spaces and get a decent salary. That’s what I needed so that’s what I did. I would worry about what made me happy after I had some money in my pocket. Having money in my pocket at the time seemed like a very happy spot to end up too. What truly interested me didn’t matter, so long as it paid the bills. There’s happiness in paid bills.
I was the first in my family to graduate with a Bachelors. That was a hard earned accomplishment for me at the time. It was something I wanted to frame on the wall as a reminder of that too but I never did. As quickly as it was earned I started to put it to work. I wanted to get ahead at work. I was already known as the person who could get incredibly hard things figured out and accomplished, now I wanted to be paid well for them too. Like earning my degree, earning the bigger salary and position took some time to accomplish too but I did it. Even though my career has been bumpy and not always grand it has always resulted in my being able to pay bills and take care of my family.
Sometimes that is enough.
It is gratifying to know you can financially provide for your family. There is no shame in doing what you need to accomplish that either. I am thankful for how I have been able to contribute to that condition in my own household. There are no wrong ways when it comes to securing your financial future either. Yet none of this has to do with the light each of us has. We can tell ourselves we are doing alright and maybe we are but if we are not being fueled from our inner light after a while it is called settling and surviving. That is not what it means to live with purpose, passion or pursuit of what fills us with joy in what we do with our lives. I had learned to survive but now I was settling.
That gap between what we need to do to take care of ourselves and what we really wish we could do is what leads us to this point of settling. That is a dangerous place I have been guilty of living in myself. I found myself trying to force myself to like things that didn’t sit well with me at work all for the sake of saying I had this great paying prestigious job. Sure on paper I had all the right things going on but inside I knew none of it was filling my heart with happiness. Monday mornings sucked and all I did was wish for Friday afternoons. I had a classic case of settling.
I wished away lots of time at work. It is what we all do to get through the week. Following some light is nothing more than looking for the exit sign to the weekend and eventually retirement. That work we did on those degrees nothing more than fond memories of when we thought we could change the world or do something great in it. These days we work in gray colored cubicles with piles of work that in truth we really don’t care about but are made to through pre-defined corporate strategic goals and a manager who wants their bonus annually.
There comes a point in our lives where we just try to ride that out until we can retire. Many of my friends are there and per the age timelines, I am too. I even joked of buying one of the countdown clocks myself recently. Then we can live. Then we can do what we want. Later. We only have to get through these next few years and suck it up. Sigh and move on. Do the minimum and get through it as best you can then you can have what you couldn’t when you were younger. We wait until we are in our 50s and older to start living at last. All this time the light in us dims because we don’t think we can do anything about it anymore. It was just part of some fairy tale we tell our kids that they can be and do anything they want in life.
Maybe I’m oddly wired. As I looked at countdown clocks on Amazon one day, my rebel heart was going crazy insane. How did I spend all the last 30 years doing what I needed to survive and provide but not feeling passionate about it? I sucked it up was how but I heard myself saying I couldn’t suck it up anymore. I didn’t want to go through more corporate turmoil that leaves me updating my resume and looking for a new job just to repeat it somewhere else. My spirit has died enough in the process of trying to live financially that I have forgotten what it feels like to live well and happy at work. I’m also deeply tired of waiting for later to be fulfilled in my work or make a difference in my life.
I’m tired of ignoring the light.
The chasm between what I do for a living and what my heart calls me to do has suffered. I have not been able to find that space where I can take something that lights me up and put in the dark corner of some corporation who doesn’t care about it all. It matters to me though. It matters. It seems insanity to be saying this and perhaps it is just a mid-life crisis I’m experiencing but I don’t want to settle! Our lights inside us are not made for that. We can sure ignore it and most of us do because it’s financially sensible, less risky or even feels comfortable. Those are good things but so is living now, at whatever age you are happy, fulfilled, loving the work you do and having it fed your soul.
When you find that thing that lights you up like nothing else, it is a sign you are on the right path. You have found your purpose and calling in life and you should go at it full gusto in achieving it. This was always my personal guidance to know if what I was doing was the right decision to lead me to that place of personal success. Over time I have learned to decipher those feelings a little bit first before jumping head first but for the most part it has been when I released all doubt and just went for it that I found the greatest happiness.
What if though that light takes a while to find? What if we don’t know what lights us up or it is a hodge-podge of things that don’t really amount to funds that pay the bills? We all know circumstances in life often take over in our ability to focus on dreams. We sometimes have to do things that are so far removed from what we actually want to do it does seem hopeless and we give up on them too. I think personally this is where settling starts to occur and we just go with the path of least resistance. Yet staying there doesn’t answer that question.
Here I was just thinking I was swapping my household cleaners but now I’m in college working on a second Bachelor’s in holistic and alternative medicine. This feels wildly insane and liberating. Like I finally found a way to let the light in my rebel heart free and pursue what matters to me. Maybe it is a pipedream to find work you love and then you’ll never work a day in your life. I want to find out finally for myself. If I have learned nothing else on my natural living journey, it is that I have settled too much for less than I deserve because felt driven to focus on the financial aspects of living. Important yes but what if I found a way to do that and have my light shine bright?
How are you following your light?
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