This was the point that resonated with me most throughout the past weekend, which I spent nestled in the woodlands at a career-change micro-festival with aound 200 people, of whom I only knew handful last week.
Despite suffering from depression, I’ve never been one to wallow in my misery in terms of my career. I’ve never worked in a corporate environment and so can’t particularly relate to the confining pressure of a corporate career or a person’s inability to leave it. When I attended the inaugural festival last year I had already left yet another job because it was making me miserable and I knew life was too short. The longest job I’ve ever had was just shy of 2 years, and as usual I had no idea what I was going to do next. So I did what I always do when I feel the pressure of trying to conform to what is portayed as a ‘normal’ path in life — I ran away to Thailand for a month. I say ‘ran away’ because I’ve often felt that my lack of direction in terms of my career and my constant travels have been viewed as a cowardly act that some may assume is me running away from responsibility. And I almost convinced myself of that many times. It’s not.
Many times in my life I’ve felt quite alone, misunderstood and disconnected, much like the lyrics of emo songs of my youth. When I travel I find my tribe — the misfits, the daredevils, the creatives and the compassionistas. Those who share a passion or a cause. From volunteering with wildlife in Thailand to learning all kinds of yoga in Bali, to supporting communities in Uganda. Feeling a sense of community is incredibly important to me, but I struggled to find this back home, until I discovered my chreished new tribes from Escape the City, Project Awesome, Say Yes More and Uganda Marathon.
During the ‘death-bed’ meditation performed by Eiji Han Shimizu at this weekends’ festival I had a moment where I felt absolute dread. I was terrified of death when I was a child. Every night when I went to sleep I would imagine just lying there and experiencing nothing, of everything being black. Forever. This all came flooding back to me during the meditation, accompanied by a wave of anxiety. Then Eiji set the scene and facilitated what transpired to be one of the most fascinating and calming experiences I have ever had, which relieved a lot of my anxiety. He followed this with 6 key elements for happiness: Mindfulness, Acceptance, Gratitude, Purpose, Resilience and Compassion.
Until yesterday I would have said that I had five of these elements, but was lacking purpose. I embarked upon this weekend to find exactly that, with a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude — what can I learn, who can I meet, how can they help me with x,y,z. I left with a sense that I had given more than I had received and it turns out I’m happier that way. I’ve done some very cool stuff this year and I was glad to help others to do the same. My most treasured moment from this weekend was from a friend who I met at the same festival last year, telling me I was an inspiration to her. That meant the world to me. Helping people genuinely makes me happy, and if I can inspire them too, all the better.
So in the many shapes and forms it has taken and will continue to take, I think I’ve found my purpose. I don’t intend to ever be a shit factory, and until my actual deathbed I will continue to help and inspire those I meet, to find and fulfil their own purpose.