“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain
If you have ever wondered what your life purpose is and felt less than because you didn’t know what it is, you are not alone. This is one of the biggest questions we all long to answer. Until we have our own big ‘a-ha moment’, the struggles we go through can feel a lot like needless suffering.
When we are children, we aren’t bound by the notion of needing to have a ‘life purpose’. We thrive on discovering the world we were born into, taking in every detail, asking questions, and then more questions.
We fall many times when we are learning to walk but we get up. We keep trying with an unwavering determination despite our scratched-up knees, which is fueled by our built-in curiosity. This curiosity is meant to guide us towards our own unique purpose. If this wasn’t so, we would not all have unique voices and fingerprints.
Over the years I have been helping people make meaning out of their pain, I noticed that my heart danced in joy when I could see curiosity awaken in them. What sparked their joy was different than mine. Even if the questions they asked were similar, different answers lit them up. I loved hearing that glimmer in their voice as they started humming the song their souls had forgotten to remember. I felt like I was witnessing a lotus flower bloom. This feeling has never left me.
No Mud No Lotus
I had the kind of childhood that made me put aspects of myself into a protective bubble so that I could survive it. I had to set my innate inclinations and desires aside to please my parents who had certain expectations of me. In those days, nobody was taught that the main job of a parent, aside from keeping their kids alive, was to cultivate the natural inclinations they see in them.
Through the course of my journey, I realized that my childhood and adolescent years were there to lead me to my purpose. They birthed the questions I had spent most of my adult life trying to answer. The first eighteen years of my life was the mud. I didn’t have the skills to zoom out enough to look for a different meaning in that mud. I just saw suffering.
For years, I looked at others and compared their flower with my mud. It was one of the most painful feelings I can remember. Feeling so less than those who seemed to have figured it out that I wanted to crawl under that mud and bury myself. I didn’t know that this mud was holding the seeds- my personal life questions- that the Divine was watering for me to harvest one day. I took me a very long time to learn to trust that.
My Three Big Questions (What, How and Why)
The first question that guided the next decade of my adult life was, “What is wrong with me”? I was in so much emotional pain that I was very motivated to find the answer. I didn’t love myself and I didn’t love my life. I asked the Universe why I was here and why I had to feel so much pain. I didn’t get an answer. “What is wrong with me?” was the question that started my quest and shaped my journey for the next ten years. I did a lot of research and read a lot of self-help books.
Then the next important question surfaced: “How can I heal?”. By asking this question, I was led to walk through the doors of my first long-term therapist. As my emotions started thawing out, I began to get connected to my core self again. I started exploring the interests that I had tucked away. I decided to go back to school and study to become a therapist. This was a full circle experience for me.
While going to school, I continued to see therapists and tried different healing modalities. This was my whole life. I lived and breathed it. Yet, I was still in pain, still felt insecure, and the lotus flower I was hoping to become was nowhere to be seen. I was starting to lose my patience. Then the third question showed up on its own: “Why am I not healing?”
I was beginning to realize that I wasn’t the one coming up with the questions. The questions were arriving when I was ready to receive the next piece of the puzzle of my life. They didn’t come unless I accepted the question without judging it and looking at the questions in everybody else’s life. They had their own questions that came out of their own life path. I could compare notes with them, become inspired by their stories, and maybe find some clues. But I couldn’t borrow their questions to find the answers my soul had come to find. Realizing this was a point of freedom for me.
If you have been struggling with finding a purpose or a direction in your life, know that it is not too late. Not all flowers bloom at the same time. It takes up to seven weeks for roses to ripen. Carnations take up to 12 weeks, gardenias can take up to a year to bloom. Know that you will bloom even if you don’t know when and even when you don’t have a map in your hand, leading you to your own soul treasures.
Secondly, review your life. Zoom out of it to see which questions you have been trying to answer. If this doesn’t resonate, briefly, zoom in to your most painful moments instead and see what you were desperately needing.
Our life questions arise out of our biggest struggles. We are either trying to reach towards inspiration or get out of pain. Invite the questions in, even if you don’t feel ready to receive the answers yet.
Your purpose may not become clear until all the dots are there for you to connect. It took me decades to realize that my purpose was to relieve people of their suffering and to help them make meaning out of their pain. But first I had to know what suffering feels like.
If neither of these options works, be patient. Trust. We are just like flowers, waiting to bloom while weathering the storms of our lives. These storms build the aspects of our personality that we will need when we are ready to take our place in the garden of life.
I love the saying, “Nature doesn’t hurry but everything gets done”. Your inner being knows where you are going and what kind of flower you are destined to bloom into. Trust this. It will carry you through.