Finding your thing has no expiration date

I went to hear Glennon Melton of Momastery speak today at a women’s networking function.  She was warm, real, and empathetic, and the women who attended bared their souls to her, and to everyone in the room.  It was a powerful glimpse into the power of community.  During the question and answer session, a young woman piped up saying that she felt frustrated because at 35, mid-life, she hadn’t found her passion.

Hearing the words “mid life” and “35” in the same sentence, the crowd, myself included, laughed.  Thirty five is nothing near mid life.  Wait until she’s almost 40,50, whatever, like me.  She has so much time.  I’m sure that’s what everyone was thinking.  It’s what I was thinking.

I continued to think about her all afternoon.  What was that like, hearing us all laugh at her for sharing her frustration, her need to find purpose?  We had no right.

When I was 25, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted at 35, and when I arrived at 35, I was an entirely different person than I expected I would be.  I felt lost.  Beyond my 20’s I was no longer “young”, but didn’t feel established, credible, or authentic.  I was still searching, trying to figure it all out.  Just like her.  I had no idea what the next 10 years would bring.

So if I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t have laughed.  I would have found that woman after the breakfast, and this is what I would have said.

It’s okay that you haven’t found your passion.  Keep looking, keep trying, because it’s out there, and you will realize what it is when you are in the middle of it, when you are working harder than you have ever worked, and don’t mind one bit.  It won’t announce itself with a bullhorn, but with a sense purpose.  These are “little m” moments, and they can pass you by if you don’t pay attention.

Your passions will change.  Your passion today may not be your passion tomorrow.  You will change, and your passions will change you.  You will find pieces of yourself you didn’t know you were missing.  You’ll find them in the people that you meet, and the places that you live, and in experiences that touch you in unexpected ways.  Life is long.  It’s okay to let things go once you’ve learned what you need.  You’re not abandoning them. They are a part of you now.

Your passions may not look like anyone else’s.  They may not be understandable or relevant to anyone but you.  They may not be “important” or profitable, or marketable.  They may reveal themselves to you slowly, like one of those pills you put in water that take forever to expand into Christmas tree.  It may take some prodding, and some additional hot water.  You may have to put up with patronizing, doubtful people who wish they had to courage to pursue passions of their own.

They aren’t about the end result.  They are about the process.  They are about how you connect with your soul.  Sure, it’s nice if the rest of the world gives you validation, but how often do we really get validation on anything?  Passion is internal.

I’ve come to my passion late in life.  It was always there in the periphery, in the secret wishes that I didn’t share with anyone else.  I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t have what I needed to move forward.  Now I do, and someday, woman we shouldn’t have laughed at, you will too.  Be patient.  It’s worth it.

Speaking of validation, lovely Sharon Vander Meer has nominated the Mobyjoe Cafe for Liebster Blog Award.  Sharon’s blog is all about writers and writing.  It came on a day that sucked more than an Electrolux–at least that’s what I tweeted at the time, so the boost was much appreciated.

Pay it forward. Here are the Liebster rules:

1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
3.  Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.
4.  Add the award image to your site.

So here are my choices – Honesty is one of my daily reads.  She has that combination of thoughtful consideration and wicked humor that I love. – Phyllis writes words that feel like home to me. – I love, love, love de’s poetry. Very e.e. esque – Sopphey is righteous and awesome and introduced me to the art of the hangout Not only is she a good writer, she’s my favorite Twitter drinking buddy.  These things matter.

So give them some love.  Do it for me.  While you’re at it, give yourself some too.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Paula Bailey