“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” ~Jennifer Lee.
Or perhaps, be fearless in the pursuit of discovering what sets your soul on fire.
So many of us are living this life on some form of autopilot. We graduate high school and attend college or university in pursuit of a degree. For many, it doesn’t even matter what the degree is in, we are just told to obtain a four-year degree so we may become functioning members of society. The problem with this is that we enter college at the age of 18 with limited life experience, and very limited knowledge of other cultures, different ways of living life. We graduate with this degree and expect to find a job that will bring us success, happiness, money and material gains. This may bring short-term happiness, which may evolve into contentment, but I believe there is more out there.
I know quite a few people who are currently working their dream job or in school in the pursuit of what sets their soul on fire. For example, my dear friend Ashley has known since 8th grade that she would be a Physicians Assistant and she has pursued that dream fiercely. She has taken every step she needs to and her goal keeps her going through the years of long, late library nights and missing her family (Shout out to you Ash, you’re pretty inspiring).
But what about those of us who aren’t quite sure what exactly our dream is? Do we take the first full-time job that is offered to us, cling to a sense of stability, pushing off the voice of our intuition which is yearning us to dig deeper? Do you stay in this routine and hope that you will eventually start to love life, or at least, your standards will lower so you may trick yourself into happiness? With social media these days, “Keeping up with the Jones” can extend way past a small circle of friends and some feel pressured to follow the path they see so many walk before them. But I have a secret for you, maybe you’ve heard it before and maybe you haven’t… You do not need to have your life completely planned out. That’s right, you are allowed to walk your path one step at a time, unsure of any specific final destination. Follow your intuition, that Divine guidance that leads you to collect as many different experiences as you can. While you may not have clear direction at the moment, the combination of many experiences can bring you clarity on what path you do wish to walk.
I graduated college in December of 2015 with a degree in Elementary Education. In my last year of school I realized while I do want to work with children, I am not made to be in a traditional classroom 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. I continued my work coaching children in a variety of sports and yoga before I found the opportunity to move to Guatemala. In Guatemala I lived and worked at The Yoga Forest, a very unique retreat center and intentional community. The 6 months I spent in San Marcos on Lake Atitlan fueled my growth spiritually, physically, as a teacher and as a human being co-inhabiting this beautiful planet. It was here that I lived completely outdoors, experiencing the beauty and discomforts of both rainy and dry season. These six months were the first time in over 5 years that I did not work with children at all. I focused completely on teaching vinyasa and yin yoga classes as well as guiding meditations and cacao ceremonies for Ecstatic Dance. This experience was wonderful and helped me gain clarity to further shape my life. I realized that while I love teaching yoga, offering this life-changing practice in a safe and joyful manner, I do not wish to be an instructor full-time. Yoga will always be a part of my life and I hope to always spread this practice, but I prefer to teach multiple times a week as opposed to multiple times a day. I returned to the States in pursuit of a new adventure, one that would allow me to work with children while spending as much time outside as possible. Through some wonderful sycnhronicities, I found a unique opportunity to work in Costa Rica for the summer with a company called Rustic Pathways. I will be leading adventure and service trips for teenagers while getting to work with young Costa Rican children. I am so excited for this next journey and for all of the people I will meet along the way. However, this will be the first time since I began teaching yoga in October 2015 that I will not be teaching regularly. Although even as I type this I feel a smile spreading across my lips, because I know that I will have opportunities to spread this practice, even if it is in an informal approach. I am excited to be working with teenagers all summer, and for the opportunity to have a positive impact on them in such formative years. The next three months will be another collection of valuable experiences that help shape me into a more capable educator, a better (hopefully bilingual) communicator, and a well-rounded adventurer. Today I formally accepted a position with the PALI Institute in Southern California, where I will be an outdoor education instructor for the Fall 2017 season. I thrive off of these shorter term employment opportunities, because they give me the chance to meet new people, experience different ways of living and get a bit more clear on how I wish to live my life. Also, being able to live in a forest once again (The San Bernardino National Forest) fills my heart with all sorts of joy and happiness. For me, the pursuit of these experiences sets my soul on fire.
I invite you to look deeply at your own life choices, are you making them for yourself, or for others? Are you basing your happiness on your material goods, or on the feelings you experience throughout your days? If you are not truly happy, what small changes can you begin to make? How can you be more true to yourself? Really listen to your intuition and the guidance your Inner Being offers. If you love your stability GOOD! Keep on living the life you are creating if it is making you happy. But if you are choosing this stability because you think that is what you are supposed to be doing, check in, and give yourself the permission to be unsure. Allow yourself to wander, to try on new hobbies, new interests, new people and relationships. You don’t learn without making mistakes. As Abraham Hicks often says, “How can you know what you do want, without first knowing what you don’t want?” Allow yourself to gain this clarity without being afraid of having experiences that aren’t perfect, or maybe seem without purpose. Every person, situation, and place we experience has it’s purpose. It’s up to you to find out what that purpose is.
What sets your soul on fire may change from year to year, or even from day-to-day. The most important thing you can remember is that this change is okay! Your path is allowed to change and evolve just as YOU change and evolve. Let it be windy and twisty, and maybe even make some circles. Know that you don’t need to defend or explain your path to anyone else, because no one will ever walk yours, just as you will not walk anyone else’s. At this point in my journey what sets my soul on fire is my refusal to settle for contentment, because I know true happiness is out there for all of us to experience. And that includes you.
Photograph: Madison Wallwork