I searched and searched for many years trying to answer that question. Listening to tons of advice and making lists of my strengths and weaknesses didn’t help. Researching different approaches on-line just overwhelmed me. The video to the left inspired me and prompted this post. I remembered the first time I realized that the answer was in me all along. I made a decision that changed my life.
It happened after the last time my family – mom and dad, younger brother and sister – spent two weeks in a rented a house on the bank of Culver’s Lake in Sussex county NJ. My fathers’ sisters and mother also lived close by so they always joined us off and on
I looked forward to this annual vacation with great anticipation. I loved to swim and fish. My parents often warned me about being too close to the lake unless they were in sight because they knew that I usually got up before dawn to fish alone at the end of the dock. I had a lot of patience then and became an expert catfish catch and release fisherman. Sometimes, I’d catch a small mouth bass or a trout when dad took me out on the lake in the row boat to fish too. I felt completely at ease and peaceful. Usually in the afternoons, the family all spent time swimming together. On one particular day about mid-way through the vacation that year, I started noticing that my left knee was feeling stiff. The next day, I could barely walk. I spent the last few days of the vacation laid up on the couch in the cabin, feeling jealous of the rest who could still have fun.
Long story short, I had a tumor underneath my knee cap and came through the surgery just fine – but, I spent 7th grade being home schooled while I recovered. During that time, a hole slowly grew in my life…I became lonely. My friends had moved on from elementary school to junior high, forming alliances that left me out. Some of them came by to visit every now and then, but over time, the visits got further and further apart. In elementary school, I had lots of friends – or, at least those who I thought were friends then. I loved learning. I loved school. I was good at interacting with people and forming strong loyalties but now I was alone.
When I got the cast off my leg, I reported back to school only to find that I didn’t fit in any more. I decided it was me – something I wasn’t – and, I wanted to figure out what. Since loneliness was the symptom in my life where the ‘hole’ was, I tried to figure out where I had to focus to fix it. I turned to my school work and joined the pep squad to gain approval from others. I started to meet and connect with new people and just as those alliances were starting to form, my father announced that he was moving the family to Colorado.
As we drove across the country, I remember staring out of the car window with the same patience and conviction as when I was fishing. I made a decision that I would be a different person in Colorado. No one there knew me or my past. It would be a new environment and I knew how to connect with people. I became the complete opposite of my previous personality – and became a people pleaser, making friends with people from every group – the jocks, the hippies, the studious, the cowboys/girls – and, not being afraid to be whatever they wanted me to be. Which, I discovered much later in life, was not truly the answer to my problem.
Why do I tell you this story?
I was forced to abandon my summer vacation activities early and watched everyone else continue to have fun. I was forced to stay at home as I healed and lost my friends. I was forced to move away just as I was finally making friends again. I didn’t have any control over any of those things. I felt hopeless and alone. Then, in the quiet of the long car ride, I chose to be a different person. Not knowing who that person would be – just a commitment to do whatever it took. The loneliness was more than I could bare – and, I wasn’t going to go through that again.
I learned that circumstances over which you have no control can be overcome. The key is deciding what is causing the pain and deciding to take control of what you can. I also learned that the only thing anyone has the ability to control is themselves.
So, back to the original question …. How do you find the area you need to focus on?
We’ve been in lockdown for three quarters of the year here in the U.S. and longer in some parts of the world. I’m so thankful that I have been able to keep my job. Working from home does have me missing the random personal connections that used to present themselves in the office. Are you feeling that too? Or are you out of work and just need to make some money? Whatever that thing is is the area you need to focus on.
Dig deep – ask ‘Why?” over and over again. Why do I feel this way? Are you out of work and need to make some money? Do you wish you could connect with your family and friends more completely? Are you getting out of shape and sick of being financially strapped all the time? Struggling to start your on-line business and don’t know whose advice to believe? If any of those things are making you feel that sick and empty feeling but aren’t quite sure what to do about it, this video might help you find out how you can identify that thing for you that will fill whatever void you have in your life.
Please comment below to let me know how I can serve you.
All the Best!