On finding my thing

Part of the Ramadan challenge that I previously mentioned of removing distraction and focusing on understanding myself is figuring out what my thing is.

Thing (noun)

1. The focus of professional pursuit and growth that enables the creation of impact and meaningful work.  Synonyms:  passion, focus, career, IT. 

This definition does not refer to specialization or academic study but is rather more focused than that. I know I need to be clear on what my thing is for several reasons.

a. I know that what I studied for undergrad and masters is exactly what I wanted to study (questioned and reaffirmed) but it still is a wide wide field of play. Unless one goes down the traditional path (which I have no intention of doing) there is a lot that can be done.

b. There is a lot of need in my context therefore I am easily pulled by different issues that need attention and work. Lots of problems = need for lots of solutions. However, impact does not come from this hopping around of focus and cheating on one issue with several others on the side.

c. Every person whose work I admire in a variety of fields (from illustration to education to sales) has a thing. They have a focus because creating impact requires getting that little seed of a focus and then nurturing it with effort, feeding it knowledge, and helping it grow with experience. Of course, within all that there is plenty of room for creativity and working transversally.

These reasons made it essential that I figure out what my thing is! I was reading Lilly Singh’s book “How to be a Bawse” (which is actually a good read!) and she used a metaphor that really clicked. She said that every person is climbing their ladder – I imagine their ladder is their thing- and in climbing, each rung represents a significant amount of learning, effort and experience. So when we see someone we admire, we see them at a higher rung in their ladder and we may not notice all the rungs they have had to climb to get there. Some also have several ladders but with each one the starting point is always the bottom.

This is good to know when you have a ladder but no one tells you how to find one for yourself. I suppose that is because it is so subjective and requires looking inwards. So I spent time paying attention to the topics that excite me, in work, reading and conversation. I wrote them down and then began to narrow it down gradually. At one point I doubted whether or not I was making any progress because it is not sitting in front of a piece of paper but rather paying attention to my thoughts, my words and my feelings. It is gradual but  honing in meant finding a tiny seed.

This was written after the second week of the Ramadan Challenge. 

Disclaimer: Always learning… Always evolving… For life. x 

On Distraction

Before Ramadan began, I sat down and drafted a singular goal focused on self-exploration and understanding and decided to remove distractions in order to accomplish it. I’m only a week in and I had no clue how f-ing hard that was going to be.

When faced with having to stare head on into the abyss of the unknown and the glaring light of honesty, it becomes almost instinctive to turn away and  look somewhere else. I discovered just how ingenious my brain is at devising distractions even when the external ones are removed. When I cut out Youtube, I would pick up my phone (because social media doesn’t count, right?) and when I hid away my phone, I would come up with tasks to fill my mind and worry about. When I finally would sit down in front of a paper and just face some honest truths I would get sleepy like a teenager being forced to do homework. I never take naps (!!) but my brain saw it fit to shut down operations in the middle of the day because the abyss was just too scary.

In taking a moment to reflect on this, I want to recognize the distractions that have been so consuming and I never realized just how much and the wave of inspiration that was distraction masked. I also want to recognize the progress to my goal in finally facing some of the terrifying questions I never dared to ask of myself. Even though my goal still stretches far ahead, I will keep trying, I will crawl to it through the terrifying abyss until I can open my eyes in the face of the glaring and blinding light.

What has been helping is using some tools that guide my search and exploration instead of just thinking about it and expecting the answers to emerge. So far, it has been drawing a map of myself and finding the empty holes, the small building bricks and the faint outlines of something that is there. This process has taken me through all kinds of emotions, a rollercoaster if you will, but I just want to make it clear that I’m not getting off. I’m going for round 2 with all the lessons from round 1.

This was written after a grueling week of trying to understand me. 

Disclaimer: Always learning… Always evolving… For life. x