A Writing Exercise to Find Your Passion and Purpose

I just completed an exercise I saw in this Inc. article. The headline "The Secret to Finding Your Passion is the Opposite of What You've Been Told" enticed me because "Finding Your Passsion" is something I've been working toward, and it's something that honestly, seems so stressful. It feels so stressful. It's a goddamn job in itself. Which sucks.

But I took 15-20 minutes and answered the questions honestly. Before posting, I went through and removed names and fixed a few grammatical errors, and did some formattting, but here are my answers. I'm posting this because I think it's super valuable to do things like this, to be introspective and honest with yourself. It's also important to me (you'll see in a sec) to be vulnerable with people, even people I don't know.

Here are my responses. Have you done something like this? What did you think? What actions are you going to take to make shit happen for yourself?

Today, I'm going to say yes to a project, and I'm going to plan a trip out to the coast. And I'm inviting a friend.

Name the top 3 peak experiences in your life. What do they have in common? What does this tell you about yourself?

1. Marrying matt. That day was amazing. I loved how everything happened so smoothly and wonderfully. Curating that emotional day was so wonderful. It felt so good to be surrounded by people who loved us and who we loved and being so vulnerable around them was incredibly rewarding. It was so cool to see that.

2. It felt really good to get my degree. Not pick up the actual thing(I didn't walk), but the moment where I turned in my last paper, and had finished up my work. I took a picture of myself in front of the gorgeous Moreland hall, and felt incredible. I was wearing my Tommy Boy shirt because I realized partway through my super long college journey that I was on his plan. The seven (mine took eight) year, not-a-doctor plan. It started out as a depressing realization, but I made it a joke. That moment, in the sun, in front of Moreland, knowing that I had earned something I had worked so hard for, felt amazing. It was such a relief to be done, such a relief to know that I had worked hard, and that I had completed something.

3. My yoga TT was another amazing experience. I again, allowed myself to be vulnerable around other people and was rewarded richly. My fellow trainees, while we’re not especially close now, were amazing. Not quite BFFs, but that experience opened me up, made me realize that I have a voice, that I’m good in front of people, that I’m a good leader, and that I can be vulnerable around people and that they won’t screw me over. That training and that openness led me to move to Corvallis to finish school and meet Matt, who would become my amazing husband.

Woah. Vulnerability. Openness. Hard work. I’m always afraid to be vulnerable around others, because the best friends I ever had growing up ended up being so shitty ot me. But that’s not the case anymore. Those aren’t the people I associate with anymore. Being vulnerable is what connects us and it’s what sets the stage for rewarding experiences. I need to remember that.

If money weren't a problem, what would you spend your every day doing?

Money is always a problem. But I think that I would be at the beach. That was my first thought. At the beach, road tripping, and yoga. And re-decorating/decorating my place. I think the best way to answer this question is to plan my perfect day. Ish. It includes a lot of alone time, and then some time with Matt. I wake up at the beach. Have some delicious coffee, maybe a Chemex on the patio. Smelling the ocean air and hearing and watching the waves. I love being on water. There’s a real attraction there.

Then I’d do some yoga. Maybe by myself at my place. Yes, at first, a gentle stretching practice by myself. With a little quiet Oceanside meditation.

Then I don’t know.

Writing/working remotely. Getting some stuff done in my beautiful, clean space.

Then off to a yoga class and maybe lunch with a friend.

Adding the work is kind of funny. This is a “if money is no object” question, and I’m still considering work.

You know what? I want this perfect day to include taking care of a baby. I really do. If money was no object, I’d be beach side/lake side, with a baby on my hip, working remotely, and planning outings with friends to be social. That’s my perfect life right now. That’s what I want to spend every day doing.

What dreams have you given up on? Why? Did fear play a role? Did your values change? How can you rekindle forgotten interests?

Being a photographer, being a cosmetologist, being a singer.

Photography I gave up on because I never felt like I was quite good enough. I submitted to a few contests and sent a few inquiry emails and never heard back/won anything. Then I got a C in a photography class and figured hey, let’s keep this as a hobby. Also, darkroom photography is TOUGH and incredibly expensive. Also, I figured it was a hard field to get into. Aaaalso, I wasn’t always inspired. I take the best photos when I’m feeling it, and most of the time, I wasn’t feeling it. So I figured it’d be hard to do it as a job if I couldn’t do it all the time.

I gave up on cosmetology because I moved to Portland. Also, when visiting the Paul Mitchell school in San Diego, I was crazy intimidated by the cool/hot/skinny girls that worked there and figured that it would be middle school all over again. I feared that I wasn’t pretty enough to be a cosmetologist, that I wasn’t cool enough.

Singing I don’t think was ever a serious dream. I would sing in the aisles of Costco, singing my terrible made up songs (we need to forgive, etc. such bad lyrics), hoping to get discovered. Sadly, I was never discovered at those Costco trips. Also, I never felt a real pull to pursue it. Writing songs were hard, keeping a “band” together was impossible. I just remembered that I tried to do another band in high school. I was going to play keyboards but I wasn’t good enough. I dind’t know how to make up songs/improvise. I’m still jealous that my brother David can do that. I don’t have the musical talent to do it professionally, and I think I always knew that on some level.

How can I rekindle forgotten interests? I could get over it and sing some damn karaoke. I have a better voice than several people that sing, and she they have no fear and love the attention. I can also continue to take good photos. I can take photography classes, and shadow my art director as she takes pics. Makeup tutorials are all the rage right now. I can take a few of those and also do some if I feel like it. I kind of don’t feel like ti though. Cosmetology is one that I think I can let go. I like being able to do my makeup well, and help others when it makes sense, but I don’t feel any need to pursue that further.

What is the hardest thing you have ever had to overcome? How did this influence you?

First thing that comes to mind is [name redacted]. That relationship was hell. I didn’t fully know it at the time, but I was being manipulated and taken advantage of. But going through that wasn’t the hardest part. Sure, it’s hard to hear your “best friend” tell you, repeatedly, that she’s going to kill herself, in a desperate plea for attention, but I was a good friend to her. I was who she needed, and in a lot of ways, she’s what I needed. That hellish relationship saved me from so many other shitty boyfriends, and likely, a shitty marriage.

No, the hardest thing is trying to forgive her. I’m working through it, seriously, now. But it’s so hard. Holding on to that anger and resentment is so much easier than letting it go. I heard something on a Podcast I love (shout out Almost 30 nation) about how sometimes we hold on to things, and withhold forgiveness out of fear of it happening again. That rings so true for me in this situation. I am so afraid that if I let go of the hurt and betrayal and shame, that it could happen again. That I could be manipulated and taken advantage of again.

BUT, as we just learned, when I am vulnerable, the best things happen. The best things in my life have happened when I was open and vulnerable. What am I missing out on by holding on to this anger resentment and fear? Woah. That’s serious. That’s real. That’s an epiphany.

I don’t know if I need to reach out to heal, maybe I do. But working through this forgiveness has been a real look inward. I’m glad to be getting over it. I don’t need that anxiety and unresolved tension in my life. I need to just let it go. I think I’ll write a letter. Maybe I’ll send it, maybe I won’t. But I need to write a letter, telling her how she hurt me and how I now know that it was reactionary—she was reacting to her own trauma and it wasn’t about me at all.

What activity are you doing when it feels like time flies by?

When it feels like time flies. Hm. My first thought was teaching yoga, which is sometimes true. But mostly, it’s when Matt and I are out doing something together. Literally anything. Out at Target, dinner, the mall, with friends, the grocery store. When we are out of the house together, it’s the best.

This is a cool exercise.

What have I learned from it?

  • Vulnerability is key for me. Being vulnerable leads to amazing things. It’s easy to be closed off and say no, it’s hard to say yes.

  • PR wasn’t in any of this, except for the lunch part. PR works in terms of lunches with friends. Also the hard work thing. PR is hard work, and those accomplishments are real.

  • I am fully ready for a baby. I want to make space in my life for a baby. I want to make space in our lives for a baby.

  • I need to get to the beach. ASAP. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend. Pop over to the coast on Sunday. That sounds AMAZING. And my car is getting fixed, so it should be no problem.

  • Matt is my guy.

  • While I value hard work, my job doesn’t have to define me. I can do any of the things I mentioned before (yoga, being vulnerable, etc.) from wherever, and in any job.

  • Though curating that emotional day was amazing and I could definitely be a wedding planner. I still want to do that. I was really good at it and would love to help others do that as well. I don’t feel any urgency about jumping in, but it’s on my radar for sure.

  • This is an excellent exercise. I feel like I learned a lot about myself just now.

  • I want to take on projects that keep me working hard, that challenge me, and that allow me freedom to pursue my interests and be close to water.

  • Also, I need to plan more lunch dates with friends. My life is lacking social energy and it’s an easy one to fill.

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