The question gets asked regularly in my head, “What do you want from life?”. It’s been bouncing around from my earliest memory right through to a few seconds ago.
For a time I gave up pursuing figuring out what I want, I had learned to adapt and be someone my partner needed, or my employer wanted, or my Family wanted/expected.
I had walked away from so much of myself I doubt I could have answered this question.
But as a kid I was very determined, I knew exactly who I would be by the time I hit 30. According to my journal from grade 6, I would be a Wife and Mom. I would be happy, I would be creative. I would travel. And I would live with so much joy that life would never bring me down.
As most of us know, life can get in the way.
By the time I graduated high school I had learned to present my goals, hopes, and dreams in a way that society would accept. My dream of being a Wife and Mom had to be stated as a dream to find the right man to let me be strong. And a “career Mom” was required, never mind that I would have rather stayed home to be my kid’s Mom all day.
That I would travel got dropped, too many people were worried that my traveling on my own would be a recipe for never seeing me again due to all the terrible people they feared I would meet. So even though I wondered what amazing people I could find, I stayed to help other people control their fears.
And I actively tried to kill my creativity and joy, once I had a miscarriage. For years I gave up the idea that I could want anything from life. And more importantly, I gave up asking what that was or believing that I was worth having it anyway.
So how do you figure out what you want from life?
I’ve debated over the years what exactly I want out of life now.
I understand that as a person grows and develops their dreams and goals for the future change and evolve. And they should, if we are growing as a human being and developing new understandings then our thoughts about the future must needs grow as well.
But I have tried for so long to deny that I was worth living, that I lost a sense of who I was.
My wants became what others wanted, now I question what exactly is my want vs someone else’s?
So how to define what exactly you want when your wants have been taken over by someone else’s?
Start getting curious
I suggest working with small questions and getting into the bigger ones as you go.
The Small Questions I started with are:
What do I really want at this moment?
What do I love about my body?
What do I enjoy doing daily?
What did I love to do as a kid?
What is my Superpower? – This one is kinda fun, I come back to it often 😉
What would I love to learn?
What have I done for myself today?
What is beautiful to me? In nature?
What has happened in my life that I love?
What other questions could I be asking myself?
The Big Questions I’m Working on Now
How do I want to be loved?
Who do I need to forgive?
What am I really afraid of?
What do I want my legacy to be?/How do I want to be remembered?
What would help me feel more successful in my life?
What does success mean to me?
What kind of life do I really dream about?
What are my core values?
What thoughts/beliefs do I hold that no longer serve me?
I’ve journaled about these, I’ve mulled them over. I’ve pulled my hair out trying to ensure that the answers were mine and not something someone else said I “should be”.
And while I may not ever have a final answer, I do have my “now” answer.
I choose to be Loved Fiercely, Strongly, and patiently. I choose to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made, for losing my first sweet baby in a miscarriage. I’m afraid of never finding my own inner peace, or that I will always feel inadequate to the task at hand.
I hope I am remembered as an honest, loving, kind, strong, capable, flexible, determined, protective and all around amazing woman/wife/mother. And I’m ok with that memory being held only by my family and friends who outlive me. I do not need some big monumental memory engraved in the side of a building.
Success to me? I’m still working on this one. But partly I want to be there for my children when they need me. I want to be capable of learning and growing through out my life right into my 90’s and beyond. I will be successful if I have made my little corner of the world a bit better for those around me.
What kind of life do I dream about? One with family, and friends, and creativity, and joy and peace of mind, and so much fullness that it spills over into and onto everything thing and one around me. I want to share dreams with people and show them that pain is not the only way.
Are these answers really mine?
When I started asking “What do I really want from life?” after my divorce, I still wasn’t sure that I was allowed to. My answers were still very socially acceptable and based on what I was told I should want.
I don’t know if that was due to my choice to punish myself for so long, or if it was a result of the abuse I’ve lived with.
And at this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter anyway.
What I want out of life now will never be the same as what I wanted when I was younger. I’ve grown & changed.
And part of that growth came from living the way I’ve lived.
Our past may color how we see the world and our possible futures, but it doesn’t mean we need to define all our dreams around our pain from the past.
Moving forward, when the past still hurts
My past still haunts me on a regular basis. I may or may not have it crop up randomly in my head.
That doesn’t mean I won’t live the life I want full of joy and happiness. (Seriously people even if we have dealt with abuse we can still find the silver lining in the cloud)
I still find joy in the day-to-day (Seriously I have a toddler who makes me smile and laugh daily).
And there are days where all I want out of life is to hide under the covers and never come out.
But overall what I want from life may seem simple to most. It may never totally fit the “socially acceptable” format, but it’s mine.
And the best way to move forward is to take one step at a time, work on one project or idea or goal or whatever at a time.
For me that project is this blog, it is my “creativity” coming out to play. And that makes me smile and hope for a brighter day.
So when you feel like you just can’t define what you want out of life, be gentle with yourself. I’m 35 at the time of writing this, and I still don’t fully know. That’s ok,
I’d love to hear from you what you struggle with when defining what you want from life, and what questions have helped you figure all this stuff out. Let me know below, or send me an email.