Your Work is to Discover Your Work

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

Apparently this is a Buddha quote (who knows, really).

But I can relate to it so much.

I never knew what I wanted to be. When relatives or teachers asked, I used to say something acceptable to hide the scary truth, which was a huge: I have no idea.

But nobody wants to hear that you have no idea about your future. So covering it with acceptable answers seemed to work ok enough.

When the end of grade 12 rolled around, I began to feel faced with my unknowing more than ever. When peers were choosing universities and had made up their minds about their next 40 years, I felt totally lost and lonely in my future.

And so I distracted myself with travels, working abroad and in restaurants.

It occupied me for a while, and I did love most of those experiences, but it never seemed to give the clarity and AHA THAT’S IT! moment I was longing for.

Only now 15 later, is it just about clear.

But nobody ever tells you that that can happen when you are in your 30s. Teachers, universities and parents say you should know by the time you’re 18. Which is, in my mind, way too soon and a sure way to suppress such a young, creative, brilliant spirit.

Luckily my parents knew that the paved path of university wasn’t for me. They saw my uncertainty and spoke to that.

However, I still felt immense pressure during those years of confusion and uncertainty. And all that combined with an intense longing to finally know, faced me with some tough times.

Through much of my 20s, I experienced chronic anxiety, deep sadness, and a disconnect from myself and the world. Clearly, there was something deeply wrong with me that I wasn’t fitting into this world.

This anxiety led to habits and cycles of disordered eating and self-hate. I escaped through food and plenty of negative self talk.

It’s like I was trying with all my might to run away from myself and go somewhere where I felt ok. But I couldn’t. My body felt the disconnect and I kept spiralling downward.