It all started a while ago. I had that desperate “I have no idea what the hell I should do with my life!”- crease across my forehead. A friend of mine just looked at me and said, “What do you mean – no idea?! You can do anything. You’re free to do whatever you want.” Free? I’d never felt so trapped in my life, with two university studies running next to each other and wanting to do everything at once. But he was right. I was free.
Then came the inevitable and painful identity crisis that almost everyone arrives at at some point in their life. University was good: I was learning a lot. But mostly I was wilting inside. I was craving pop culture and mysticism. Not economy and law. What in the world had made me believe that that was something I could ever be good at?! It just didn’t feel right. And I tried to suppress the shrill alarms going off in my mind with countless concerns about the future. Successfully so – for a while, at least. “You can do this”, I told myself. Instantly followed by, “This feels so utterly wrong… I’m screwed…”
Define yourself on your own terms.
Two months later, I had packed my bags and was on my way to Salzburg to study languages. Best decision EVER. And although I struggle with the system sometimes, I love the content of my studies and the people. The value I draw from it outweighs all the negative stuff, so for me it was the right decision.
My truth had finally and undeniably occurred to me. And no, it was not that I am a natural-born language teacher. In fact, I might not be – only time will tell. What occurred to me, however, was that there is a way to define myself on my own terms, to express myself fully and that it was actually not selfish to do so. I could be me and successful at it without screwing anyone else over. But wait, it gets better: I could be vigorously myself, and be of greater benefit to others because of that. In that moment, something inside of me clicked into its right place.
I’m just tryin’ to work out,
how to be like myself.
I’m just tryin’ to work out
these cards that I’ve been dealt.
Creative spirits are free.
As soon as I started to define myself on my own terms and started to live on my own terms, new opportunities presented themselves. After months of networking and mind-wandering, somersaulting over plan A or B… or X,Y,Z…. I came across Elliot Hulse. Due to his inspiring concepts, I finally started getting myself out there. Thanks to social-media there are so many screw-the-system kind of people with platforms now: huge blogs and subscriber lists, bestselling books and public talks; and – brace yourselves – they are joining forces! Non-Jobbers versus nine-to-fivers. Artists versus white-collar workers. Ninjas versus Civil Servants.
However, in the end, it’s not about the packaging – it’s the heart of the matter that we need to see. The creative spirit. Inside the system or out. Everywhere.
There are always two sides of the coin. Just like innovation and imitation. Risk and Responsibility. Eventually, if we peel off the labels of good and bad and the titles or being cool, all forms of work and creative expression are an opportunity for contribution and liberation. It doesn’t matter that much, whether you’re in the jungle with a machete or a butter knife. Or whether your passion is a hobby, a labor of love, or a world domination plan… In the end, if you want to make lots of really awesome things happen in your life, that’s great! For all of us!!
By seeking freedom and self-reliance, we liberate our potential of accomplishing incredible things – and that’s what matters!
Creative spirits are obsessed with possibility. We live for the rush of turning a vague thought – an abstract idea – into something real and tangible. We just love doing things we love! And by doing so, we liberate ourselves and become free.
Your greatest value lies in what comes most naturally to you.
You’re probably really incredibly awesome at a lot of things, but when it comes to what you should dedicate your life to, it’s a choice that should be based on pure intuition and self-knowledge. My stomach was always the one throwing me cues along the way, and listening to it was never a bad idea.
Do what brings you joy, and by doing so, you yourself will become a distributor of joy.
Once you start moving in that direction, it will switch on a gravitational pull. The things that are fun and joyful in your life will get harder and harder to resist – begging for your full attention. And you’ll start to feel in sync with The Force, not at odds with it.
If poetry does not come as naturally as the leaves to a tree, then it better not come at all. – John Keats
When you focus on doing what comes easiest to you, you’ll gain tremendous momentum in your life and it will feel efficient and really exciting. When your actions are driven by desire, you’re building your natural strengths. It’s not necessarily what you’re good at, but what feels amazing when you do it.
A strength should be something that makes you stronger.
So what about good old sweat, determination and hard work? Needless to say, it’s essential. No way to get around it. But there’s a difference between being obligated to hustle hard and wanting to hustle hard. There’s duty. And then there’s passion. And passion is something you can’t fake. It will always pull you in the direction of expressing your authentic self.
But passion isn’t always this fiery and all consuming beast – at least, for me it isn’t. At times, it’s just steady curiosity and commitment. And those are the coals that can keep your fire burning for a long time.
Have a sincere interest and genuine curiosity for life. And then go deeper. Stretch your talents and broaden your horizon. You’ll be able to experience more, grasp more, feel more and connect better to the greater whole.
Turn weaknesses into strengths.
I have a confession to make: I have always been attracted to free-thinkers. Crazy, eccentric fanatics who immerse themselves in their creative worlds. The beautifully insane ones.
Creatives intrigue me. And Enthusiasts make me swoon. Kerouac’s mad ones:
And I wanted to be one of those people. A rather quiet but insistent voice kept telling me, “You didn’t sign up for a good life. You signed up for an amazing and exciting one!”
But if you decide to let your superhero freak flag fly, you also have to have the backbone to admit that there’s things you suck at. Horribly.
And guess what, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s a great advantage. Being human is charming. You don’t have to do everything on your own. Sucking at something gives you the chance to let other people shine and to get the benefit of their greatness, too. Network and collaborate, and create a genuine connection with other people. Make true friends.
Your purpose is what you say it is.
One last thing I wanted to mention: Your purpose is becoming YOU. What else would it be?! YOU are the very purpose of your existence. Figuring out what ignites your fire and what floats your boat – that’s your life’s purpose. It’s what you say it is. And who could tell you otherwise?
Photo credit: Helga Weber