Lost and found - on purpose and knowing your path

Do you feel like you know all the important stuff, like who you are, what your purpose is, and what you want out of life? I thought I did, but I'm having a little existential life crisis, so I'm writing this for anyone else who feels they should have it all together by now.

I haven't blogged in a while because I've kind of lost my way. The worst part of being lost isn't being lost at all, but thinking I should be beyond the point of existential crises by the age of (almost) 42. (Shhhh, I'm trying 42 on for size, less than a month to go until my birthday). Being lost is just one of the early stages of being found. You can't have an end without a beginning, and rarely do you get an answer without a question being posed first, so questions and doubts are OK. They help you reassess who you are and where you're going.

It's OK not to have all the answers, not to feel 'complete' or like you have the maturity to match the challenges life brings. It's OK to be a bit lost, or not know what your purpose is, or what you want, or who you are, because I don't right now and I'm sure there are thousands - if not millions - of other people out there going through this. Are we ever complete, do you think? Don't we keep learning until the day we die? How silly of me at nearly 42 to think I should have found all the answers. I'm barely more than a child with wrinkles!

It's OK not to feel like you're mentally or physically on top of all your stuff. Being an adult is hard. Thanks Kid President for the reminder.

Found on Instagram here.

It's OK for me not to know what my purpose is. And it's OK for you too. Maybe whatever needs to happen hasn't happened yet. Lot of people don't find meaning in their lives until they're older. Morgan Freeman didn't receive critical acclaim until he was in his 50s, for example. It would have been easy for him to give up, but he got there. I like to think a calling will come to me at some point. :) But I do know what my joys are - family, animals, children, nature, exploring, photography, writing, reading, tv, music, makeup, sunsets, road trips, friends, new places.

I may not know exactly what I want out of life, but drawing from my passions I want more of the things that heal me and less of the things that drain me. Those drains are social media, thinking about things I *should* be doing as a blogger, feeling the need to compete as a blogger or strive towards some undefinable goal all the time. I need to concentrate on things I want to do, not things I feel I SHOULD do to be a better blogger/person. Happiness lies in being true to ourselves and shutting out the voices that come from other sources. This article here in praise of mediocrity made me realise that sometimes we can be far too hard on ourselves. I know I am. I also enjoyed this article which asks if you're following your goals or someone else's. I'm guilty of that sometimes - I *think* I want things but that's only because most people do. Don't live someone else's dreams.

It's OK for me not to know who I am right now, but I know what shapes me - things like being a fat woman in a shallow world. Being a chronic illness and depression warrior. Being an empath/extra sensitive person. Being a wife, a daughter, a sister, a niece, an auntie, a friend. Being a deep thinker, a questioner. If you're struggling, remember the things that fill your heart with joy and make time for more of them. Focus on the good, the joy, the things that light you up inside - no matter what they are. Yesterday I was exploring the ruin of an old manor house, totally open to the elements and swamped in vegetation. I swiped mud off the floor with my boot and uncovered ornate 16th-17th century floor tiles. That moment lit me up! It's as nerdy as hell but I felt so alive in that moment. Embrace your joys while you're in times of struggle and it will make it easier to bear. 

It's OK for me to be not so focussed on fashion right now. All I want to wear are plain colours like black, grey and purple, oversized baggy tops, and leggings. Think of it as the fashion version of palate cleansing. I've been force fed ugly patterns and she-who-is-fat-must-wear-dresses for so long I'm going back to basics to find my style again, not what has been dictated to me. It may not be exciting but it is me.

It's OK for me not to want to blog much. I'm so busy dealing with my life I forget how tiring it is being me. It's only when I keep a symptom diary for a week or so that I remember how much I have going on physically and mentally. I need to cut myself some slack and come back properly if/when the urge takes me. And if it doesn't, something else will come along. Sometimes you have to ask yourself if your habits are helpful or harmful, and listen to your gut. Blogging is a habit right now, not a calling. If something that once gave you joy now feels like two left shoes, give yourself a break. Reconnect with whatever matters most. I've spent the last two weekends with family (mine and James's) and it's been so good to take a break and concentrate on being a person, not a blogger.

It's OK not be blissfully happy all the time. And the same for you. There's still SUCH a stigma about mental health that I feel the need to have a grin painted on 24/7 for the sake of other people. Why should I? Why should you? Everyone - even people without mental illness - have highs and lows. If you feel you can't be yourself on social media without people abandoning you, limit your exposure to it. Limit your exposure to toxic people too. If you feel like you can't be yourself - completely yourself - you need to take steps.

It's OK to drop aspirations of fitting in and want to stand out. I've always been great at counting the ways I don't fit in. I've always felt like a black sheep, but I forgot the positives of being an individual. It's really hard to be yourself when you're part of something bigger, with lots of voices and personalities. It's easy to see other people doing things and doing them well and thinking you have to be/do the same. It's easy to fall into a trap of thinking you're not enough or you're too much. You lose pieces of yourself as you subconsciously align with the collective. Any bit of your individuality is wonderful and should be embraced. Never try to minimise or erase things that make you unique or unusual. Your quirks are what makes you stand out from the crowd. Run with them.

I don't always know what I want to say or how best to say it. I don't know all the answers but I know some of them. I don't know exactly who I am right now, but I know who I'm not and that can be just as instructive if I only listen. ;)

On this International Women's Day, know it's OK to flounder, to search for yourself, to find meaning in this hectic life. Be one who questions, one who searches, one who learns. I'll be right there with you.

If you want to share your experiences about losing and finding yourself, drop me a comment.

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