External Focus
David Carrico

On the whole I’m not buying the concept of “the pendulum has swung too far into the wrong direction.” Perhaps that rings true amongst the groups and tribes you spend the most time around, but most of the people I come across in my daily life aren’t considering looking inside anytime soon (or rather, their inner life isn’t even a part of the map).

With that said, as it applies to your own truth/reality, I don’t think you’re wrong. I see your calling to become an adult contained within these sentiments.

Granted, becoming a functional adult first requires healing our childhood wounds that may limit our effectiveness in the world of grown-ups.

However, when you say: “I personally am exhausted. I am tired of thinking about myself. How often can I inwardly gaze before it becomes toxic? Is there a point at which my quest for personal development is in fact its own undoing?”

I see someone who has done enough healing. I see someone whose inner spirit is calling them to move past all that to the next stage. At some point we all must realize that while our childhood scars may remain, they no longer have power over us. Continuing to dwell on them is, as you say, an undoing of its own.

As I grapple with my own transition to adulthood, it has occurred to me that being an adult means living for others. On the day we are born, life is 1000% about you. On day 2, life is 999% about, but your parents have their own lives to deal with too, and you’re not quite as important as you were the day before. This process continues until we have our own kids and the circle is complete. Somewhere in there is an inflection point, at which the scale tips towards the world mostly being about you to mostly being about others (or you in relation to others). I like to think of this inflection point as our transition to adulthood.

I’ve also been thinking about how the transition from childhood to adulthood was handled in tribal societies, as we are not so different from our tribal ancestors. In tribal societies, survival was much less certain, thus everyone had to figure out how they were going to contribute to the well-being of the group or risk being ostracized (there’s another conversation about the loss of initiation rites, but that’s a conversation for another day). Thus, being an adult meant being responsible for the survival of the group. Now that I have accepted I am no longer a child, and thus am required to live for the well-being of others, the question becomes — what role am I going to play to accomplish that?

Hedonism only gets us so far in terms of life satisfaction. To fully satisfy our needs for love and acceptance we must also contribute to the well being of others. At its best, this is what work is, and what a career should be dedicated to. The end.

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