So many of us are thrust into the system before we even have a chance to understand it. Go to school. Learn something. Get a job. Make money. Figure out how to live on your own. Realize how expensive life is. Work more. Try to check all the boxes of the "adult things you're supposed to do" within a pressured timeframe. Stress increases. Unhappiness creeps in. Try to suppress it and make more money to earn the things you think will make your life better. Work even more. The cycle can seem never-ending. As part of the millennial generation, this conundrum is all too relatable, and I struggle to think of a single peer that hasn't expressed strife as a result of this system most of us have fallen victim to. Some people find a way out, like I did. Others instinctively know they can escape, but never quite feel ready to get off the ride for real, for the fear of the unknown is too great. And the rest spend their lives periodically looking over the fence wondering if the grass is truly greener, if there is more to life than what they're experiencing, and if they'll ever know anything else. It can be maddening, and often leads to depression, substance abuse, poor financial decisions, and broken families. Wouldn't we all be better off if we instead took the time to discover what kind of life we truly want to be living? And that looks different for everyone. That's part of what makes the world, and nature at large, work in perfect harmony. The talents and desires of everyone are unique. Imagine a world where people spent their youth learning about different aspects of human needs, culture, and society, and instead of being spoon-fed the same one-size-fits-all advice, were given the space to grow and learn more about themselves and how they can discover their purpose? I don't think it's an accident that the system is not designed this way, but that's for another conversation entirely. No matter where you identify you are in the cycle, I can guarantee there's more you could be doing to achieve the fulfillment you so desperately crave, and deserve to have. It is not without work and risk, but anything worth having takes commitment and time. But you can get to the other side. You can design a life you love living. And it all starts with learning how to identify your gifts, and use them to better your life.
We all have gifts we have been given. For some, it may be very obvious. It could be the thing (or things) you've been noticed for, complimented on, or been superior at your entire life. If this is apparent for you, half of your work is already done. Your next step is to rethink about your daily life and figure out how you can incorporate your gifts in a way that brings value to others and joy to yourself.
For those that are stumped by this thought, we've got more work to do. No one is untalented. Talent is defined in the dictionary as having natural aptitude or skill. We often think of talent in terms of art, performance, sports, and other more creative or entertainment-based spaces. But that is a grand misconception. Talent can also be found in your innate ability to see things differently, connect with people or animals, be a salesperson, invent things, understand areas of study with ease, organize people, create complicated systems, write, take risks, grow and curate foods and flavors, fix things, heal others, identify beauty, lead a team, be diplomatic, learn language, process and interpret information quickly, discover new places and things, negotiate, resolve conflict, anticipate trends, run a business, have a "good eye," help those in need, understand humor, educate people, find solutions to complex problems, design products and spaces, build things, raise a healthy family, inspire others to be their best... the options are truly endless. If you take yourself out of your day-to-day mentality and grind, and really take a step back, what are your personal gifts?
Chances are, you've got more than one. Now how can you factor that into your life, starting today? It will probably come with some course correction, and that's okay. But your job now is to unlearn everything you've become accustomed to up to this point. If there were no "rules," and you truly had the opportunity to "start over" right now, from wherever you are currently in your life, what would you want every day to look like instead? That's where your journey has to begin. Imagine what you'd like to be doing, and then contrast that with the actual demands of your current life. It may require downgrading or upgrading in different areas, more time or less toward different things. If you have a partner, perhaps this ends up as a discussion together to figure out how to make adjustments toward the greater good for yourselves, your relationship, your family. If you rework your life putting your gifts first, your happiness is what follows. Your gifts are not an accident, they were given to you on purpose. You have an edge in life that not everyone has. What a shame to one day meet your end and know you've never used them? That's not the way it's supposed to be. Take those gifts, relish in them, and put them to work. Share them with others, so they may also appreciate and enjoy them too. And work everything else in your life around this focus, and slowly but surely, everything will fall into place, the way you knew it was meant to be all along.