Chances are, if you're living in the United States, you are operating on some level of depression. Maybe it's not a medical thing or brain chemical issue, but you aren't exactly happy every day. This is especially true if you are creative, sensitive, empathic or “woke”. You're dream job turned out to be a nightmare. You had some health issues and now the bills are piling up. You read about #pizzagate and worry if it's true. It's winter in g#&*%amn Minnesota and Prince is dead. Could be any of these things.
I was at the doctor today and was struck once again by how im-person-al the whole experience was. We treat the body and forget the soul inside. Unfortunately the medical system is a microcosm for how we operate in this society in general. We treat the body, we teach the brain, we feed ourselves with food-like substances and call it good.
You didn't choose any of this. You didn't come in to your earth experience saying, “Gee, I hope we're going to use the factory-style German school model from the 1800s!” or “I hope we trade time for money!” You didn't choose the 8-5, 6, whatever deadline-you're-on corporate expectation. That was already here. You didn't choose your white privilege or your experiences with racism or being disabled (well perhaps, if you believe in soul contracts, but that's another blog). And yet here you are, waking up every day, with strangers telling you to smile (if you're a woman) or to “be a man” (whatever that means). There is a code of what is an acceptable hobby (watching football at a bar, drinking alcohol, which you may love or hate, luck of the draw). There is a dominant paradigm. Chances are, it's bumming you out.
And then you have people telling you to “Live your bliss” and “Follow your passion”. Excuse me? I haven't even opened my mail in a week and you want me to follow my bliss? Don't you know it's tax season?? Many people aren't even able to HEAR what they want over the cacophony in their mind and the years of trying to simply deal with a culture that was created in another time, for another kind of person. We have evolved beyond our culture, and culture has not caught up. This makes us feel weird and alone. But we are not. We are perfectly human, lovable, sensitive, talented, curious people in a new era that we are here to help ascend.
You hear people say they feel like they were born at the wrong time, or like they just don't fit in, or maybe they say nothing and stay home for the 30th time in a row, because going out in these conditions is depressing. They'll never tell you that though, because we're all faking it for each other. We say we're not normal, we're weird, we even have to move to places like Portland and Austin to be okay with being weird. The “cool kids" at each high school number around 10-20, and they supposedly represent the norm, the ideal. But if only 20 kids are 'normal' at each school, what does that make the rest of us? The majority, that's what. We are the definition of the norm, because we DON'T conform to outdated standards of conduct, dress, or socialization.
You are just you. And you are perfect.
That can be hard to hear if you've been taught otherwise. Most of us have. But this is programming, nothing more. You have been programmed to believe that you are not enough. And let me remind you, you are exactly enough, or you wouldn't be here. You beat all the other sperm, you survived the hazing of middle school, random diseases, family issues, lost loves and probably a lot more. You are the product of all of this AND you are what was already there, under it all, before you landed head-first into this shitshow we call American life. Yes, you can feel depressed and still know how lucky you are to be here (that can also be depressing). You are allowed to feel and know and witness that everything is wrong. This does not mean that you are wrong.
This is the point where a lot of people give in to road rage (“Life sucks and so does the way you drive!”) and/or Netflix (“Life sucks so I'm going to ignore it!”) and let their dreams die. Fair enough, temporarily. Maybe you distract yourself with petty friend or lover drama or habits you think you can't change. Okay.
Drama is caused by the belief that life happens to you. The great distraction from the much, much larger issue of being in a culture that does not see you or recognize you for who you are. This has been painful on some level whether or not you realize it. It's not that society owes you something. But we have to recognize ourselves and help each other do the same. We are mirrors and creators of society, so it's important we recognize ourselves as the miracles we are. We all have something to offer. If you're still on earth, your job is not done.
I left my full-time job to pursue coaching because I knew I had more work to do, not less. I had my real work in this world to do. And it's hard. It's hard to not be part of the status quo and have medical insurance given to me and feel like I'm contributing to my retirement. I miss my work wife.
But, I know there is a task I came here to do this time around, and I'm just one of millions of people doing that task. I believe we all have our own life purpose, but it can look very similar to others'. The way in which you carry it out will be different, as will how it affects the world around you and at large. And of course when you allow yourself to step up to the plate. I'm here to let you know that your depression is your call for you to step up to the plate. Something is missing, and you know it. We can all point at the obvious, the ex we miss or a parent that passed away, Trump... But those things aren't our essence, as intensely as they may affect us. They aren't missing from our souls. The only thing missing is a purpose yet to be acknowledged and then acted upon.
There are parts of you that have never been seen, and therefore you feel they should be hidden. But those are most likely also the parts of you that would do the most good if allowed out to roam free. Case in point: everyone's paralyzing fear of public speaking. Why do most people fear it more than death? Why is that? What are we afraid people will think of us? Why do we give others the power to silence us, especially when none of those people asked for that power? Other people are not better than you. Their opinions of you do not change who you are. And yes, you have something to say.
There is one reason and one reason alone that we aren't all out living our purpose. Fear. The overwhelming programming and training we have received is to play it safe, to fit in, to do 'what's right'. To play roles we were given and forgot to take off. We have been controlled our entire lives, from what to wear when we were little to what classes we had to take to what industries make money and acceptable timelines for acceptable cultural goals, like marriage and buying a house. And the worst part is we were told we were free, the freest country in the world.
It's all a sham.
I'm not saying those things are all terrible. I had some great classes in school that were required. I did buy a house and I like being able to paint the walls whatever I want. But there is a cultural problem when I hear client after client tell me that they either 1) aren't good enough to do what they want or 2) Don't know what they want to do because they've never let themselves consider doing something they really want. We are controlled by the media, pop culture, TSA, religion, race and gender roles, what's available to eat in our neighborhood..... but the absolute worst is when we mind-control ourselves. It's not your fault; you've just been trained exceedingly well and it will take some time, courage, and guidance to snap out of it, peel back the layers, and still find your way in a society that relies upon money for survival. It's tough, I get it. That's why I guide people through it, cuz it ain't no walk in the park.
If you fit into the dominant paradigm, congratulations. I'm seriously happy for you. You will be so successful (until the great cultural Shift happens) and life will be relatively free from existential crisis. But if you don't fit in, just remember....
You are perfect. I love you. I see you. Stop hiding. We are creating the new dominant paradigm every day with our thoughts and actions and there is room for you here. Come over to the light. Let's make the new world together.
This is it guys. We get one shot at this thing called life. Even if you believe in reincarnation, you will not be living as the You that you are today. For some people, death feels incredibly distant and is simply not a good motivator. But some of us are acutely aware of how short life is.
When I was 18 I felt called to go solo travel in India. I was fresh out of high school, had gotten into college, but just couldn't go write more papers for other people's validation. I needed to know if I could survive halfway across the world in a culture I didn't understand, as a racial and religious minority. Basically I needed to try living for once. So I saved up for 6 months by injecting trees with fungicide and flew off shortly after my 19th birthday. My parents were scared, to put it mildly. They had good reason. India is not a very safe place for a young woman, no matter how resourceful she is. But I had to go-- I had to know who I was when I wasn't in my comfort zone.
Above: Me in New Delhi, November 1999
Amazing things happened on that trip, like meeting the Dalai Lama. Someday I hope to write about them. But today I'll focus on a not-so-amazing part, which was my attempted kidnapping.
I was a couple months in to the 6 month journey and things were going... okay. I had made it through an unfortunate volunteering experience where I cataloged books that were half-eaten by termites in the dark, surrounded by large rats. I had figured out how to use pit toilets, eat only with my right hand, speak some Hindi, and avoid accidentally marrying myself off, as I was offered dowries semi-regularly.
The random black outs were becoming familiar and so was people staring at me. But I never got used to the sexual harassment. It was above and beyond anything I had previously experienced, and I was surprised by it, erroneously assuming that Indians would be more respectful of women since they are more religious on average than Americans. I was young, okay?
I was riding a train across Rajasthan in the middle of the night. It was a long journey and I had foolishly not packed enough snacks. Partway through I bought a samosa from a vendor on the train. Shortly thereafter I got sick, and if you've ever uncontrollably vomited in a moving vehicle you know it's the last place you want to be. I held out for as long as I could, getting off the train several stops early in Jaipur, a major city, so I knew the station would be busy even in the middle of the night. I was so weak I parked myself near a garbage can and planned to wait for the sunrise to look for somewhere to stay.
Shortly after sitting down, a member of the Indian army meandered over, drunk, talking about how he loved me and how I should meet his mother. He didn't seem to care that I was throwing up. Do you know how hard it is to throw up while holding your 50 pound pack while being harassed? I decided to find the sleeping room-- many Indian train stations have them-- to rent a bed hostel-style. I figured I'd be safe in there.
I was wrong. The soldier followed me up the stairs to the room, telling me the whole time how I should come home with him and we could stay in the same bed together with his mother (?). I ignored him and paid for a bed. A few blissful moments passed and I thought I might be able to sleep off the food poisoning, when I heard the creepy drunk voice of the soldier again, telling the sleeping room manager to let him in... and then felt him get into bed with me. You've never seen a sick girl jump like that, man. I was outta there. Lugging my giant pack and vomiting all the way. This time I parked myself in front of the information desk, which wouldn't be open for another hour or so. I didn't know what else to do. You might wonder if I asked those around me for help-- the answer is yes-- I shouted for help and everyone just stared at me. The soldier followed me, picked me up, physically pulling me toward the exit. Luckily I knew about making yourself heavy by going completely limp. I was a lot heavier with that backpack on too. He was simply too drunk to get me into his car, which he said was waiting to take me to his house. Finally he passed out on the floor, after whispering gross things in my ear while taking hits off his flask.
The information desk finally opened and I found out where the nearest hotel was. I RAN all the way. After I checked in I didn't leave for 3 days. I was so ill that the hotel manager sent a doctor to my room. Turns out I had dysentery and could've died.
All this is to say, would it have been better for me to stay home in Minnesota, wondering what could've been had I ventured out on my own? Certainly I would've avoided that guy in the station and the illness. But I also would've missed the crazy, interesting, wonderful experiences I had that made me who I am today. I know what freedom feels like and I know what fear feels like. They are simply two sides of the same coin.
Fear is such an interesting concept, because the very thing that is meant to keep you safe can also keep you bored, depressed, stagnant and lonely. I'm not advocating huge risk taking all the time, but if you feel yourself get a little excited about an idea, but then get scared, feel the fear and do it anyway. Because life's too short. Consider this: if you don't do it, what does 5 years from now look like? Are you satisfied? Happy? What if you do take the risk? What might your future look like? If it doesn't go as planned, can you allow yourself to “fail” and try it again differently? Do we give up on love when our first relationship doesn't work out? Of course not, and we can't give up on risk taking either. By all means, take calculated risks. But always head in the direction of joy, love, excitement; and away from fear.
I'll leave you with this: When you aren't sure about a career or life decision, ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time on earth?
Life Purpose and Career Coach
Career Clarity Now