"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Harold Thurman
Making Major Life Decisions at Thirteen
For most of my life, I have made decisions that have made feel safe. When I was thirteen, I decided I was going to be a lawyer because I had an inner compulsion to know what job I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. I knew that I wanted a career, but I didn’t know what. I chose lawyer because it seemed like a reputable occupation. I couldn’t be a doctor because I wasn’t scientifically inclined. To me, being a lawyer was the next best thing. Since that was done, I could relax and do what I needed to do in school.
Yes, this was my thought process at thirteen. Since I was the youngest and always wanting to do what my older brothers and sisters were doing, I grew up fast. It didn’t dawn on me that they were in a place where they had the time to figure it out. I was more concerned about having an answer than giving myself the time to learn more about me and what I liked.
I never could sit too long with uncertainty. To me, uncertainty was equivalent to unsafe. For a long time, I didn’t understand how people could freelance and work on commission. I had to know a paycheck was coming at a certain day and time, like clockwork.
Breathing in Uncertainty
All these years later, I am the opposite of who I was and what makes me feel safe. I started freelancing almost two years ago, and I love it. I love working for myself. I get paid when I do the work. I know I will do the work. That’s all the certainty I need now. I quit my steady teaching job for the risk of freelancing. I got work quickly. It wasn’t so difficult because I knew I could make it work. That’s all I need now. The inner knowing without the detail. That’s why I took my leap of faith. What I’m about to share with you, I’ve experienced myself. Maybe it’ll apply to you, too. Here are 5 signs that it may be time to take a leap of faith:
1. The things that you loved most about a situation are now repelling you.
One of the things I loved most about teaching was the students. I loved helping them grow, and I knew they appreciated what I did. Then, one day, they got on my nerves so much that I felt like they didn’t give a shit one way or another. We all have moments like that, but on that particular day, I felt like nothing I did meant anything. It wasn’t just there. It was everywhere. That’s a shitty place to be.
2. You start focusing more on the things you didn't do rather than the things you are doing.
I started asking myself lots of questions. Why was I still in Pennsylvania? Why was I still working in the same place? Why was I still in a house that I was only supposed to be in for a few years 10 years later? Meanwhile, I had written a book that I never expected to write and was finishing another. I was becoming a better teacher every day. I was becoming closer to people I had been guarded with before. But instead of enjoying what I accomplished, I was despairing over what I hadn’t.
3. You're not connecting with people close to you the way you once did.
People I once enjoyed spending time with bored me to tears. I wanted to be somewhere else with people I connected to.
4. Where you are is not where you want to be.
I experienced this both physically and emotionally. Places that I once enjoyed or at the very least tolerated I couldn’t wait to leave. I didn’t want to be in Pennsylvania or in the classroom.
5. You're not growing the way you want to.
I love to read, and I love to learn. Anything that teaches me something I didn’t know before I am all about. I took a sabbatical for a half a semester to learn about a group of students I hadn’t had experience teaching but was getting a lot of. I wanted to be as knowledgeable for myself as well as them. That exhilarated me, but when I was done, I was in the same place. I felt stagnant. That’s when I really knew that I had to move on.
All of these things together showed me that I wasn’t satisfied. Satisfaction is the way to true movement forward. It makes you come alive. If you’re not satisfied, you have to find a way to be satisfied. There is safety in uncertainty about details. The reason for that is that when you are certain about yourself, who you are, and what satisfies you then you will always be safe. For me, belief in myself is all the certainty I need.
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer