On Facebook, a link has been going around titled, “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.” The crux of the article is that you must ask yourself a series of questions to determine what your true passion and purpose is in life. This is not an easy thing to determine; some people know their purpose immediately, whether it’s to become a nun or a teacher or play in the Super Bowl. Others drift aimlessly through life, wondering what their true calling is, what they should be doing with their life. This isn’t the first article to suggest asking questions to figure it out; a quick Google search shows 2.5M hits on finding your passion in life.
At some point, I’m going to go through this entire exercise as a post, but for now I wanted to hone in on a question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. What is true about me today that would make 8-year-old me cry? In other words, if 8 year-old got into a time machine and traveled to right now to speak with his future self, what would he think? Would he like his future self and the changes he’s made in his life, or would he be shocked at how different he became?
Get to know 8 year old me
Who remembers much about themselves when they were that young? I certainly don’t, so I went to a good source: my mom. She said that I was funny, loving and creative, not afraid of running with the crowd and doing my own thing. I think the best part of what she said, other than talking about our awesome relationship, was this:
You never let things get you down. If you couldn’t be good at baseball you tried something else. You were friends with the kids who maybe didn’t have a lot of friends. You didn’t need to be with the popular kids. You tried to bring all the kids into your world. You were a leader without even trying to be one. Kids gravitated to you. You were artistic; always bringing home a 12 page booklet of stories and pictures for me.
So, 8-year-old me was creative, a leader, reaching out to others and not needing to be with the popular people. Sounds like I was a pretty damn awesome kid!
What would he think of me today?
Oof. Well, I don’t do much creative anymore. I don’t write stories (or tell them), certainly not 12-page booklets of stories and pictures for my mom. I think the drive to be accepted and popular pushed me away from being a leader, and more to someone that gravitates towards others. I still do my own thing; some of my friends get really annoyed that I skip Friday happy hours to run 20 miles in the heat to train for a marathon. So would 8-year-old me like to hang out with me, or kick me in the shins and run away?
I think 8-year-old me would be happy with how he turned out, with some key exceptions. He’d be happy that I’ve picked up writing again, although it’s blogging and not necessarily creative writing. He’d be happy that I keep doing my own things sometimes, and that I don’t have a problem with talking to the not-so-popular kids (but really, what is popular anymore?) I think younger me would be sad that he wasn’t as creative anymore, or that he got wrapped up in what you SHOULD do (stable, corporate job) rather than what you WANT to do (your passion). He’d be sad that he played it safe too much, became too risk averse and tried to just blend in with the crowd.
The good news is, life isn’t over. As I read on Twitter the other day, “Not happy? Move. You’re not a tree.” We can always change what doesn’t make us happy. Don’t like your job? Get a new one. Don’t like the way you look? Hit the gym or change your hair. Don’t like your friends? Get new ones. 8-year-old me discovered a damn time machine and came to see what he was like at 32, there’s nothing to say he can’t visit me at 42 or 52 or whenever he wants! It’s up to me, and only me, to get closer to a place where the younger me would be satisfied with how his life would go.