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It’s Not Your Fault You Are Lost. You’ve Been Answering the Wrong Question All Your Life —


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” a man asked me when I was 8 years old.

“I want to be a ballerina,” I answered.

What do you want to be when you grow up?” a woman asked me when I was 15 years old.

“I want to be a forensic psychologist,” I answered.

A few more years passed and at my high school graduation party, person after person asked me, “What are you studying at university? What do you want to be when you get out of school?”

“A public relations person,” I answered.

“Why?” they would ask.

“Because I am good at writing and public speaking and I enjoy people,” my 17.5 years-old self answered. “And, it is practical, and I can get a job afterward,” I added.

I went to school and left as a qualified PR practitioner; but during my studies, I was privileged to have amazing professors (3, in particular, stood out) and when I left school, I knew I wanted to be a professor.

So, when asked at 22, 25 and 33 years old, “What do you want to be when you finish graduate school?” the answer was, “I want to teach university and be a professor.”

"At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determines the type of people that we will become”  — Leo Babauta

Not once, that I can remember, had anyone asked me, “WHO, WHO do you want to be?” Rather, all the questions were ‘doing’ questions about my economic role in society.

As Babauta suggests, the questions we ask ourselves frame our vision like lenses including some things and excluding others; AND we’ve been asked these questions regarding WHAT we want to be in life almost since birth.

Early in life, we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know that the questions posed are framing our focus and channeling our energy into answering of them thus shaping the type of people we will become and the life we live.

So, we pursue and live the answers to the question being posed: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Because that is what we are meant to do, right?

Then it happens —

We FIND the ‘doing’ that we are really, really good at and then, we do it...

For a while…

Only to realize it wasn’t THE THING. We fooled ourselves into believing that the ‘doing’ we are really, really good at was THE THING we were meant to ‘do’ with our time, our lives.

OR maybe it IS THE THING but not in the context that we are doing it.

And the search begins again for the ‘doing’ or the ‘context for the doing’…or worse, we stay put only to have the void of meaninglessness expand.

This gaping hole where meaning and fulfillment were meant to reside widens, and the WHO we are placed here to explore and expand upon begins to wither— until we wake up or give up.

Those who ‘wake up’, (me, included for a time), go on a journey looking outside themselves for ‘the thing’… again and again.

Striving, striving and never arriving for long because success doesn’t fill the gap or bridge the chasm. And we get tired. So, so tired.

Some of us decide to live within the prison of dissatisfaction, often due to the notion of practicality or responsibility (I’ve been there too) and then try to make the most of it — experiencing some modicum of success — for a while.

Or we turn to distractions, like being very busy, so we can ignore the void or find temporary ‘gap fillers’ (the list of which is endless).

Either way, we are fooling ourselves…again.

We fool ourselves so well and are so entrenched in our ‘meaningless doing’ and the pursuit of our ‘meaningful doing’ that when the rare question of, “WHO are you?” is raised, most of us instinctively answer in relation to the roles we play in life.

“I’m a…mother, husband, church-goer, worker, entrepreneur, activist, etc…”

All roles —

All hint at YOU but are not YOU at the same time.

The process of misalignment with our highest-self starts at an early age. Generation to generation it is unconsciously taught binding us with societal conventions, and thereby, leaving us lost, stumbling around in the dark or at least in the dusk as we try to figure out OUR bigger picture.

Unfortunately, we’ve been misdirected, with all of the best of intentions, to a path that has us pursuing the answer to the WRONG question.

Is it no wonder we feel lost or crave meaning and fulfillment?


Be Careful of the Questions You Ask Yourself

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” — Albert Einstein

Your life, my life, is shaped by the pursuit of the answers to the questions we ask ourselves. Too often, these questions have been outside-in oriented instead of inside-out.

When we stop to question the questions and why we’ve been asking them in the first place, we begin to gain clarity as well as an opportunity to ask better questions, like “WHO do I want to BE{come}?”, where the pursuit of the answers transcends fear and takes us on an inward exploration.

On that inner journey, we become aware that who we have grown into (consciously or not) was a choice. If that is true, then we can also determine who we wish to be{come} as we move into the next present moment. Starting by choosing to BE! Just BE.

Many a spiritual guru has explained that we don’t attract into our lives what we want but WHO we are. If you want to attract different experiences into your life, then consciously choose WHO you grow into, WHO you wish to be{come}.

Do you desire more love? BE more loving.

Do you desire more abundance? BE more generous.

Do you desire more peace? BE more peaceful, and so on.

“At the center of your being you have the answer, you know who you are, and you know what you want.” — Lao Tzu

So, now at 44 years old, when asked, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

I answer, “I can do just about anything, but I’d much rather BE — BE fully, deeply and meaningfully in each moment of every day, as much as I can, presently living the core values of who I am and who I am choosing to be{come}, aligned with the purpose of my highest self.”

“Well that’s just great,” you say, “But how do we do this given the twists and turns, the ups and downs and the curveballs of life?”

Good question. I’m working that out day by day myself (for better or worse), but at least now, I have a firm hold on my compass, it points from the inside-outand I can read it!

Until next time…

Many blessings!

(First published on Medium, 8 April 2019)

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