“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, because the world needs people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman
I shared recently about the struggles I’ve been having trying to determine what I’m meant to do with my life and what it is that I have to offer. I received such an outpouring of support and encouragement in response to this, both here on the blog and privately, that it really amazed me. Thank you to all of you who reached out!
I’ve often heard it said that people tend to take their best gifts for granted because those things come so naturally to them. I know this is true in my experience. People have often commented on how organized I am (particularly in a work setting—less so in my personal life), but I tend not to think of that as a strength of mine because it’s not something I work at. It’s just how my brain works.
So as I’ve continued to ponder this question about what I might have to offer, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about feedback I’ve gotten from others over the years (both positive and negative) to look for things that might show up consistently to see whether I have any other gifts that I might be overlooking. And there is indeed one thing that has come up over and over again through the years that I’ve always discounted as not being worth very much because it doesn’t seem to have any financial value. Interestingly enough, it’s not even something that would move me toward my dreams of healing or ministry.
“I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” ~ Anais Nin
That one thing that has shown up time and time again from all kinds of people in all kinds of relationships and all kinds of situations is that I have an unusually high degree (so I’m told) of self-awareness and the courage and willingness to share this self-awareness with others. This really seems rather boring and unremarkable to me because it’s all I’ve ever known. I can’t imagine it being of any commercial value either, but that wasn’t my question this time around. The question was just about what I may be good at.
What surprised me even more as I continued to think about the feedback I remember receiving over the years was how often people seemed to find some value in hearing me share my self-awareness about myself, my patterns, or my reactions to things going on my life. Now don’t get me wrong! I’ve also received plenty of complaints about this trait from people who think I am too serious and who would prefer that I spend more time in the shallows. There are definitely positive and negative aspects to this trait, but the idea that people could benefit from my sharing my own self-awareness is a striking one that I had not fully considered before.
Even if it never turns into anything financially supporting, perhaps I am still having a positive impact on the world around me through my willingness to carefully and honestly observe myself and share what I find. People have said that my sharing has caused them to view their own worlds differently or to see new possibilities for how they see themselves.
I would still like to find a path to self-employment that involves work that I enjoy doing, but I’m less sure than ever about what that might look like. The longer I sit with the idea that maybe my “ministry” is just sharing my story and my self-awareness with others, the more I am at peace with the idea that this is enough. In fact, I think it may even be more than enough. It feels like grace.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.