It’s a funny thing, you know.
The way God works.
You think you know the ways in which your life is going to play out. You plan, you plan, you plan, and you continue to place things in your life you think will bring you meaning, or joy, or depth.
And sometimes- a lot of times- they do.
And everything is great and wonderful.
But other times, they don’t.
And life gets hard.
And the small, flickering flame that keeps you moving forward each day, sometimes starts to diminish.
And if you’re anything like me, you have a map of what you want in life in your head: A career you love, a great family, friends, a relationship, whatever it may be.
But a lot of times, our lives just don’t play out in the ways we think.
And it’s in these times that we grow.
The past few years for me, have been the hardest of my life.
I’ve heard from a lot of humans, that your mid-twenties are some of the toughest years you will experience.
Everything is new and weird and you’re an adult and you’re just trying to figure this all out.
For me, I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that brings me deep joy.
I’m not really into following the path the world gives.
It works for some people.
And I know a lot of people find joy and satisfaction in climbing the ladder, getting to the next step, and achieving their business goals.
I’ve just never been like that.
For me, figuring out who I am, and where I want to give away love, is what’s important.
I’ve never had a job that I’ve been super passionate about, or a career that has brought me the sense of depth that I would like.
But, I am starting to dig in.
I’m starting to let my dreams take the lead.
And I’m finally starting to let my passions guide my feet.
Let me tell you.
This hasn’t been easy.
If anything, it’s been really, really hard.
But I know, if I don’t do this in my mid-twenties,
I may never do this at all.
And I don’t want to wake up one day, thirty years down the road,
and be stuck in a career that I don’t find joy in.
So let me give you a little more back-story to where this all began for me.
Three years ago, this month, I stepped foot in Haiti for the first time in my life.
I had never been out of the country (except for Mexico and Canada) and I most certainly did not have a worldview that was helping others.
This trip changed my entire life.
I’m not just saying that.
I didn’t go home and go back to the way things were and forget.
The people, the culture, the poverty, the landscape, it all left a dent in my soul.
It changed my heart and my mind.
When I got home from that trip, it began a process of simplifying my life.
It began an internal process, of my mind and my heart.
I took everything I knew to be true- all good things, but very Americanized, and challenged the things I had grown up learning. The things that made me who I was, were starting to challenge me in ways I never thought.
I have always been in love with people who are different from me.
If you had known me in high school, you would know that I was the girl who tried to be-friend all of the foreign exchange students, because I had always loved someone who was not from where I was from, and someone who had an entirely different worldview than my own.
I am still that way.
But my world has changed.
And some days, I’d like to go back.
To the naïve girl- that didn’t know any different.
Maybe then I wouldn’t feel guilty every single time I waste even the smallest amount of my leftovers.
Maybe then I wouldn’t look at my closet, or the clothing stores, and be ashamed of the amount of clothes I have, and the great amount that I do not truly need.
Maybe then I could go back to working my normal job, and not feel dissatisfied with the lack of what I am doing.
But I wouldn’t trade it.
I wouldn’t go back, even if I had the choice.
Because I am better for it.
And if it weren’t for that initial trip, I would still be that girl that cares much, much more about her self, than she ever did about the world, and those suffering around her.
And I don’t write these words to make any one else feel guilty, or feel like what they are doing is insignificant.
It most certainly is not.
And we need people here, doing the work, putting in the time, so that others can eat, and spend time with their families, and so on.
My life path was just radically altered by my eyes being opened to the entire world, through this first trip to Haiti.
Fast forward three years.
And here I am.
I finally feel like I am close to finding what it is I really want to do in this life.
And it has been a journey of faith, and anxiety, and depression and struggling through the suffering that produces perseverance and hope and wild amounts of gratitude.
It hasn’t been easy.
But it has grown me and changed me.
I say all that, to tell you this.
Don’t work jobs that you hate, just so you can get a paycheck that barely makes the cut, and pays the minimal amounts of what you really want in life.
Take a leap of faith.
Go after the things you’re passionate about.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Because, you will.
But you’ll be so much better afterwards.
And you’ll learn, and you’ll grow, and you’ll find your life to finally be something you’ve always wanted it to be.
I’ll leave you with this- a quote from one of my most favorite people, an influencer in my life that has changed me:
“Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those “we’ll go there next time” deferrals. The sad thing is, for many there is no “next time because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision. They need a change of attitude, not more opportunities.”
– Love Does, Bob Goff
*All photos courtesy of Kristina Graham.