Moving from WHAT you want to DO in life, to HOW you want to BE in life
Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do or be in the world and then they spend the first half of their lives working towards that. However, it’s not always that easy for the rest of us. Many will spend the majority of their lives looking for what will bring them joy and a deeper sense of purpose.
Although I haven't always known exactly what I would do in the world, I knew how I wanted to be in the world, and that, I later learned, was a very powerful distinction. As a young child I wanted to be an actress and years later, “the next Oprah.” If you asked me today whether I still want to be an actress or have a talk show my answer remains the same, "Of course!"
The truth is that this dream has not died. I’d love to act in a film or host my own show however I have learned that it's not acting which I am chasing, but something acting provides. As I've grew older I realized the power that came from surrendering to the idea that everything in life needed to be neatly packaged up into one easily communicable box with a straight path forward. Although today I am not employed as an actress or TV host, I do get to utilize many of the skills and strengths which having that type of platform afford those who do choose it as a full time profession. It’s been in that place -- the spaciousness underneath my surface desires -- that I've discovered an overflown reservoir of meaning and purpose. What is the secret to doing this? Well, it’s simple. Start with the question WHY…
If I would have asked myself WHY I wanted to be an actress, I would have uncovered three things that are true about myself and which fuel the work I do in the world…
I am creative and want to express myself to others.
The role of an actor allows space for creative expression. Actors get to play, to have fun, and to express so many parts of themselves through the characters they portray. In any type of work I’ve done, I tend to desire collaborations that allow me to step up creatively and express a part of who I am. As someone who has struggled with finding and expressing my voice verbally, it’s no wonder why I so deeply desired opportunities to “speak" through various forms of expression, such as acting.
I desire to share myself with the larger world in a way that normalizes a variety of experiences.
Being an actor provides a platform -- both for an individual to be known and for their message to be heard. By playing a character on a show or in a movie, I have the power to normalize an experience or identity, to name that which is nameless and to give others a sense of community as they go through struggles, so as not to feel so alone, voiceless or unheard. The fact that I could be the voice that reminds someone they are not alone is what makes me come alive.
I want my life to be in service to others.
If I had entered professional acting as a full time career, I imagine myself either taking dramatic roles which show complexity of character; targeting issues of race, gender, worth, oppression, etc.; OR being my own personality (i.e.. hosting a talk show where I could interview a variety of individuals and shed light on their own successes, failures and the complexities of being human for the benefit of learning from each other’s experiences).I wanted my life and message to be a reminder that we are never alone, our difference is our "gold" and that above all, we (all of us) are worthy of love and respect. This, of course, was due to my own areas of lack related to worth, acceptance and feeling alone in the world -- feelings I accepted at varying points in life but which I ultimately chose not to believe as truths. Therefore, when I thought about my service in the world, I gravitated towards ways that highlighted our inherent wisdom and worth while reinforcing the truth that we are not alone in our struggles.
SO fast forward a couple decades and today, I am called a bridge builder, facilitator, leadership coach and entrepreneurial spirit. I see myself as someone who leans into creative expression, brings people together across differences, and creates space for individuals to show up as they are, to explore the deeper dimensions of their being... As I continue to navigate what this can look like (because it can and will take many forms) I remind myself daily to hold onto and further deepen my understanding of "why" -- why am I here, why I do what I do and why does it matter? By leaning into these answers I allow myself freedom to release any idea of how I think my life should look, which is tangled in worth and other’s perceptions. Instead, by trusting my personal core of service, I allow there to be unlimited avenues and channels for how I show up in the world as well as unlimited manifestations for what that looks like.
Therefore, as you begin to explore your own motivations and desires, I'll leave you with a few questions to lead with your "WHY" and help you uncover HOW you want to be in the world. These questions build off each other so give yourself ample space to go one by one.
Why do you do what you do?
Where and in what ways have these themes been present in other areas of your life?
What brings you joy in life?
How do these all relate?
Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve just written then try to articulate three truths about who you are and how you hope to be in the world.