“What are you searching for?” my friend asked during one of our many conversations. After a few seconds of silence and her thinking we had lost the connection, I heard, “Laura, are you there?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” I answered back, still pondering the question. “I was thinking.”
“I thought I smelled smoke,” she quipped back, and we both laughed. Our sense of humor has seen us through many years of friendship. And I needed the laugh at that moment. Timing sometimes is everything, and hers was on point.
As I regained my composure after laughing and managing to call her a smart (insert expletive here), I finally said to her: “I’m not sure that I know the answer to that yet. The past several months, I’ve experienced such a limbo that it’s left me questioning a lot about me, my career, and what to do next. I also feel this huge pull to do something different, something meaningful. I’d love to write full time, but. I don’t know. I’m a work in progress, and you know that, so I’m always searching to some extent. And I guess I’ve been asking myself that question more than usual because of the circumstances. To top it off, I keep hearing my mother’s voice saying, ‘what are you going to do?’ But I don’t have an answer. Thoughts and ideas and lots of dots out there to connect, well, a lot is swirling around. I guess you could say the locator on my GPS is spinning and searching for a signal. Does this make any sense because I feel like it doesn’t?”
She laughed and answered, “Of course it does. I get it. And it’s okay to feel what you are feeling. It’s okay not to know. You’ll get there. I know you will. I hope that for you.” That’s when I laughed and let out an “uh, huh” because she had given me a taste of my own medicine. Nicely played, friend.
The more I think about that conversation, the more I realize the expanse of the question. And I suppose that the answers could be endless. Aren’t we all searching for something? I guess what it boils down to for me is that what I thought I was searching for I’ve found at various points in my life, and I surmised that my purpose in large part needed to be defined by that thing – whatever said ‘thing’ was at the time. They couldn’t be two separate things.
Or could they?
Maybe they run parallel.
Heck, you may even hit a dead end. But you can always turn around and find a different way, right?
Then there’s this thought:
What if what you are searching for intersects beautifully with the unexpected? It gives you the time to reflect without the constraints or pressures of the chaos, or the illusions; or the feeling that you should be doing something else because that’s what they want you to do; or the self-imposed straight jacket you wrap yourself in because that’s what you thought you wanted.
Then, bam! Something happens that gives you the time to think and think and think some more. Suddenly the constraints and pressures are subtracted from the equation – but not unexpectedly because you sensed something was amiss and put the pieces together.
That happened to me back in late March when I entered a new phase of my career: gainfully unemployed due to a reorganization that eliminated my position. And amidst a pandemic. So, my search for purpose and what to do next took center stage.
Gone is the constant need to worry, overthink, overanalyze, and find a million reasons why it wouldn’t work out.
For the record, I still don’t have an answer, and I’m okay with the uncertainty for the first time in my life. Gone is the constant need to worry, overthink, overanalyze, and find a million reasons why it wouldn’t work out. I’m not saying I still don’t do those things. It’s that I’ve learned how to mitigate them better. I suspect it has much to do with my headspace, my support system, writing, a regular workout schedule, dates with nature, and this feeling that I cannot shake that it is going to work out somehow. Sure, there are days when I get down and have to disconnect from social media or the job search because it feels like salt in a wound. Sometimes it makes me sad, but never mad or resentful. I suspect it is part of the grieving process. So, I take the necessary time outs to regroup and reset because it is essential to healing.
I’m weighing all the circumstances with a healthy dose of logic, education, and of course, heart. I’m trying to respect, listen, and learn more. I’m writing more, and each time I do, there’s this overwhelming feeling that keeps telling me that this is part of it. It being whatever piece of the mosaic is out there – an opportunity on the wings of change.
I’m beginning to realize that the heart of it lies within us. All the steps I’ve taken led me to this moment—each dot-connecting. Maybe life is a mosaic because of these thousands of imperfect pieces. And when you lay them out, they fit perfectly imperfect together to create a tapestry of possibility.
If you are out there on a quest, too, I want you to know you are not alone. It isn’t easy, and our situations are all different. But we can do this – even on the bad days when we want to throw in the towel. We can continue to construct our mosaic, seek, define, or redefine our purpose and persevere. It is within you as much as it is within me. I’m here for you if there’s anything I can do to help you along the way. To whoever is reading this essay, I invite you to remember your worth. And I’ll do the same.