I remember sometime around middle school, I sat in my room and wrote up two different career paths for myself, both having specific timelines and expectations. I looked out the window and daydreamed about the perceived journeys and eventual successes. If I chose the lawyer path, I would need to do this. If I chose the doctor path, I would need to do this. I marched out to the kitchen to show my parents, who commended my foresight and planning. I think I even put a checkbox next to each option.
And clearly, neither path was chosen. But that love of structure, that desire to know what my "plan is" lives on, deeply rooted in my way of being. And both by choice and through necessity, I've spent the few years learning how to be okay without structure.
For some, this sounds like heaven. But for me, this has not been an easy lesson. Throughout our American lives, or at least until college ends, we have a plan laid out for us. We have our next steps lined up and built-in friendships. And once that time ends, it's scary and many of us jump into the first job that comes along that makes us feel comfortable. I was that way.
And then when I took the leap and left my comfortable job, spent extended time traveling without an agenda, worked for myself without any set schedule, and wondered what to do next, I found myself saying how much I liked having a "purpose".
And I realized that somewhere along the line, I've mixed up purpose and structure. My previous understanding of purpose was moving towards some meaning in life by way of a set path. You start a foundation and raise money. You go to school and use what you've learned to give back. You have a plan!!!
And this is not necessarily true. Yes, a plan helps to deliver your purpose, but a true purpose - your purpose - is in you all along. You don't need a straight and narrow for your message to be heard. Let it show up in everything you do. Let your life be a reflection of what you love. Your purpose will shine no matter what path you've chosen.
I just spent the last week in Costa Rica with an amazing retreat group and one of the girls told me how she didn't know what to do with herself without every minute of her life planned out. I smiled and agreed, because I intimately know the feeling.
And I also smiled because now I know there's a whole lot waiting for you when you finally decide step outside that box.