I used to collect quotes. I had books and books of them, starting when I was 16 and going until about 23. What I loved about quotes was that no matter the mood I was in, I could always find a quote that “matched” my mood. In other words, I had validation that what I was feeling was “okay” or “normal”.
I guess it was around age 23 that I realized I didn’t need validation because it didn’t matter what other people felt. I don’t know if this was a good or bad thing as I vividly remember the last quote I wrote down was,
“23 and so tired of life…such a shame, to throw it all away. The images grow darker still. Could I have been anyone other than me?
At the time, I was sure that by age 23, I knew it all, had done it all, and life had nothing more to offer me….
Looking back, now I think this was a relatively normal feeling – sometimes dubbed as the “quarter life crisis”. I started working and got out of my ‘funk’, met my husband, and rode off into the sunset….sort of….
I’m now 31 and while inherently fulfilled with amazing family, loving friends, my perfect husband, and in general – a pretty nice life; something is missing. Or maybe, something WAS missing. For the past two years, when I tried to think of a quote to described my life, I heard the repeat of Ani Difranco in my head,
“Somebody do something, anything, soon. I can’t be the only whatever I am in the room. Why am I so lonely? Why am I so tired? I need back up. I need company. I need to be inspired”.
And in a way, looking at my life, this is ridiculous. I’m 31 and back to feeling the way I did when I was 23? How did that happen? And my life was seemingly perfect…what was missing?
So I started to look for answers and engaged in activities that had inspired me previously. I watched TED videos. They lifted me up for about an hour post watching them, then I got over it. I exercise and walked on the beach a few times a week, thinking the inherent beauty would spark something. Nada. I made a lot of money…maybe I could buy inspiration, right? Nope. I read a ton of books. Perhaps I could get so lost in someone else’s world that I could forget about the perceived lack of purpose in my own world. Good escape for short periods, but…at the end of the day, was still stuck with me. I threw myself into work and family as these have always been the two most positive parts of my life; and again, great times when I was actually “working” and actually “with family”, but once alone again…no inspiration to be had. I was stuck, and lost, and getting frustrated.
And then something interesting happened. Actually, a few interesting things happened at once. First, I decided I needed to go back to work full time for someone else. I knew I needed to get back to doing something mission driven, not just consulting for money. So the interviews began and I was at the top of my game. At the same time, I started working with my old boss again. He has always be an inspiration to me, but I never through about the WHY behind it – I just assumed it was “him”. I was back on a natural high. So I started thinking about WHY my boss had always inspired me and started thinking about the other people who had impacted my life and they all shared several commonalities:
1) They were smart – and not just “work” smart or “book” smart, but LIFE smart. Every lesson I learned from them was able to be applied to both business and personal life and served to enrich both.
2) They were driven by passion. None were driven solely by money or power, but by the mission of what they were trying to accomplish. Many things can be trained; feeling truly passionate and being able to communicate that passion is innate. I was mesmerized and fascinated by each of them.
3) They were all teachers. Not “teachers” in the occupational sense, but teachers in the sense that they understood the importance of a mentor / protege relationship; and knew the importance of being on both sides.
I could go on and on, but basically I realized what I needed to do. I needed to find something I was passionate about, working with people who fit the above description. So I did that. I found a killer job for an awesome company. I believed in the mission and I believed in the people…but…something was still off.
And it took me until a few weeks ago to realize what it was; I wasn’t building anyone.
I’m at my best when I can work with and better those around me. That is my natural high…finding what I term to be “wasted talent” and building those individuals into superstars. Or not even superstars, but building them to be whatever it is they choose to be. And 99% of the time, these individuals don’t know what they want to do or be…but they do realize that it’s the journey that matters, not the actual destination.
So I started engaging with a couple “kids”. Well, I call them “kids” now, but really – younger 20 somethings that I thought were “wasted talent”; I started really listening to them and trying to work on different ways to motivate and better THEM. And since then, this is the first time in two years, I’ve had the motivation to sit down and write a blog post. And it’s not a good post…it’s not like my old posts – but as with everything else, writing takes practice and I’m just getting back into the game. What’s important here is I recognized what it takes to “inspire” the uninspired….
It’s helping better someone else. At least for me, it is.
And when I look at this blog post, I want to puke at the way it’s written. Everything in me is saying, “tighten it up; this is so long; the lessons are not clear”…that said, this post was not for my readers. It was for me.