Find what you love and let it save you

written by Andie Armstrong June 5, 2018
Goblin Valley State Park, Green River, UT

he truth is, figuring out what you truly want to do with your life, and how to make it a reality, isn’t easy.   If you know what occupation would make you happy – a pursuit, not an object – I applaud you. It’s not easy for a lot of us to even know what we would want to do, given the opportunity.

Whether you know or not, it’s easy to write off because you don’t have the time, the money, the skills, or other luxuries of being able to pursue what makes you happy. It’s a shame that we are willing to accept so much less for ourselves either out of fear of failure and doubt in our abilities, because we think it would be selfish, or because we are taught that our self-worth is defined by our productivity. We are distracted by the things we are told we need – false trophies that represent happiness. “A new car” is a much simpler answer to the question, “what would make you happy?” than dancing, teaching, healing, creating, etc. It’s also a lot easier to attain. Work x hours for x dollars, and the formula will get you the down payment on that car. There’s no guarantee like that for having a career in the arts, for example. Even if you can get a career in a field you think you love, it so often turns out to be full of unexpected downsides. Sometimes you just get it wrong, and in today’s society there isn’t room for a lot of error in pursuing what we think we want to do in life. That’s tragic.

I’m not saying I know what I want to do with my life, or how to go about doing it. But I’m trying, and I’m not giving up. I’m not letting myself off the hook and resigning myself to job that is just tolerable and provides a safety net, so I have money to spend on distractions from the fact that my life is not fulfilling.

You only get one life.

t is an ongoing process, learning to trust yourself and encourage yourself, and we aren’t trained to do it. The public education system trains us to be good little worker bees, cogs in the wheels of the capitalist system, and the mores of society reinforce the necessary values to keep us enslaved – be productive, be a good provider for your family, show off your achievements in the form of bigger houses, better cars, more expensive schools and extracurricular activities for your kids. Make money to buy things to placate yourself and and fill that void of purpose in your life.


Retail therapy!

Pharmacological therapy!

Change your appearance!

All of these answers for why you could be unhappy are offered, but how often are you actually encouraged to ask yourself why you are unhappy? Ask the hard questions and then demand answers. Don’t give up. This is your happiness we are talking about and the shortcuts only lead you back to the same place.

I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful career with two fantastic bosses and a family of colleagues, and I am eternally grateful for that and for all the help I had in getting there. I don’t mean to speak ill of my professional life, nor put down anyone who is an employee of any company or organization. It’s just that in most instances that’s different from doing what truly feeds your soul. 

I understand the need to maintain a safety net in today’s world, and that people can’t just quit their jobs when they need to ensure basic needs for themselves and their families, but in theory there is really nothing we would need to keep ourselves safe from if there weren’t human beings out there predating on others. There is no reason why anyone should have to worry about having a place to live, food to eat, or healthcare. Unfortunately, people get disgustingly rich by keeping those necessities precariously balanced just within or just out of reach. Fear of not having those basic needs keeps us all working hard, selling ourselves, missing out on important moments in life, doing things we have moral objections to, and pitting ourselves against one another instead of working together to build communities that can sustain us all and provide food, housing, and healthcare at a reasonable cost for all…

…but I digress.

he point is, it can be scary trying to live differently, to reject the system we are raised to believe is just and fair, when it is still very much in place. And I don’t have it all figured out, but I know I have to try. Hard things are things worth doing. Feeling is  better than being numb. We are taught that feeling scared, nervous or unsure is a problem we need to fix, and I know I for one didn’t learn a whole lot of coping mechanisms for having those feelings other than solving the problem to make fear and anxiety stop. Spend money, work harder, take drugs, whatever… but I have begun to realize it’s normal and ok to just have those feelings and it takes a mental fitness and strength that I’m still building to trust myself, trust the process and remind myself why I am here. I truly believe that if you don’t ride out those uncomfortable moments, you will never get to experience the most blissful ones life has to offer.


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