Finding the Path to Purpose

“WHAT IS MY PURPOSE!???!!”

If you haven’t asked yourself that question at least once as a twentysomething, you’re lying to yourself. And from what I’ve gathered from most people I know, that is a question that isn’t limited by age.

A few days ago, I was getting coffee with a friend, catching up, life stuff, etc. And per usual in my conversations lately, it went something like this, “I still don’t have a job, I have no idea what I want to do, I feel lost, I don’t know what my purpose is.”

And my friend simply took a deep breath – inhaled, exhaled – and then asked me two questions.

1. What are your passions?

Well this one is easy for me. I could go on a whole tangent about the social justice issues that I am passionate about and want to advocate for. The problem is, I’m not always sure how to do that (we’ll get to that later). But my passions? Advocating for LGBTQ rights, racial justice, opportunities for youth, access to education…the list continues.

But what are your passions? These are the things that are the spark in your life. Anytime someone mentions one of these things, you get excited and know that you could talk and listen about that topic for hours.

2. What are your gifts?

This one was a little harder for me to answer. My gifts? Well, I’m not always sure about that one. Call it self-doubt, call it lack of confidence. It’s easy to get in the habit of thinking that we aren’t special, or that we don’t have any gifts. When really, the opposite is true. We are all unique and we all have gifts.

Even now as I type this post, I’m doubting my gifts again. But I’m working on one of my gifts right now – writing! I love to write, and I’ve been able to keep this blog for over a year, which makes me think there is some sort of gift there. I also know that I have a talent in connecting with people (I didn’t realize this was a talent until I had some perspective shifting, and I’ve learned that not everyone is able to do that).

So, what are your gifts?

_______

Those were her two questions.

  1. What are your passions?
  2. What are your gifts?

The tricky part about this is combining these two. How can you serve your passions while also utilizing your gifts?

Now THAT is the question.

But still, it made me feel better about my current situation. Because at the end of the day, I know I have passions, and I know I have gifts. We all do. And maybe it’s okay if those passions/gifts aren’t being fulfilled 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. That shouldn’t stop me from starting a really cool social justice themed blog, or from volunteering with youth on the weekends.

It’s a big world, people. And I don’t think we will ever find our “one purpose.” I think there are multiple. And as another friend of mine says, “Discourse always provides a course.” So even if we are navigating through the discourse, know that the discourse will always lead to some course. Some path. And for me, that is enough.

Thank You, Fathers

Today is Father’s Day. A day of celebration, appreciation, and love for the fathers and father-figures in our lives. Due to the recent attack on LGBT lives in Orlando, I wanted to take a minute and share my thanks to my own father, but also, the Fathers of The Movement.

A Brief History Lesson: 
The Stonewall Riots occurred in June of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. On a hot, summer night in 1969, the police began (yet another) raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay club, questioning the legality of gay people. Rather than accepting the discrimination and oppression from the police, the patrons of Stonewall fought back…one of the first collective well-known gay riots in history.

This was the official start of the Gay Liberation Movement. This is why we celebrate Pride in June (formally known as Christopher Street Liberation Day). Yes, now a celebration of identity and self-love. But it started as a celebration of life, when death was too-close a reality.

Liberation

Back to the Present:
Orlando, 2016. A popular LGBTQ club attacked on Latinx night. But this time, there was no fighting back. It’s hard to fight back against a gun. Lives lost, defenseless. And so many other affected by the tragedy.

To be honest, I don’t want to get into the details of the present. If for no other reason, this post is intended as a thank you – not a current news recap. With that said…

Thank You to My Father:
We believe in everything different. I say stop, you say go. Welcome, stay out. A choice, a child. We disagree on a lot of things. But the one thing we never disagree on is love. Because love always wins. I love that we can argue for over an hour, and then say I love you afterwards. I love that you can listen to me cry after Orlando. And I love that I can be myself around you, feeling completely vulnerable and safe. And I know that I am so incredibly fortunate to have a father like you, when so many in my position do not. I love you, Pap. Thank you, for everything.

Thank You to Our Fathers:
On this day, exactly one week from the Orlando Massacre, and coincidentally, Father’s Day, I would like to say thank you to those whose lives were lost in 1969 and all the LGBT lives who were lost prior to that, all the lives that were lost since then, and all the lives to be lost during this fight. The Founding Fathers (and Mothers) of the Gay Liberation Movement started this fight for equal rights. Because we, as people, deserve it. We deserve equal rights. We deserve love. To be the subject and target of hate for so long is unfair. It’s so sad and it’s so heavy.

But today is a new day. What was done in Orlando was wrong and it was hateful and it was terrifying in a way that I have never experienced anything else in my entire life. But because of our Founding Community at Stonewall, we can continue the work. We don’t have to be covered in a blanket of smothering hate. We can move forward.

A Call to Action:
Let the past dictate the future. Let our Founding Community guide us forward. The generations of today, the twentysomethings and all the age groups around us…we have the power to demand change.

So many straight allies have told me, “I’m tired to sitting down.” Orlando sparked something in everyone, LGBT and allied friends, and it’s time to use that. It’s time to use that energy and that determination to stand up and fight for justice. To fight for change.

Fight Back.jpg

Because enough is enough. Hate can only win for so long. And the one way to overcome hate? With love. Because love is love is love is love, and love always wins.

Re-Branding Yourself

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
-George Bernard Shaw

So folks, here it is. I’m probably the biggest culprit of saying, “I need to go find myself.” My latest example? Wanting to travel to Paris to become an au pair to “find myself.” But maybe it’s less about that, and more about creating myself.

Over the past semester, I’ve been working with a student on re-branding my blog’s image. I wanted to come up with a new logo design, other than my piecemeal amateur scribbles. So, I knew an amazing student who does really amazing graphic design work, and I asked her to help me out. And I am SO HAPPY with the final product. Here it is!

Aren’t they great?! I loved both designs so much that I’m still not sure which one to use. Help me decide?

This re-branding idea though also directly relates to life right now. It’s not about branding yourself. It’s about the re-brand.

Going along with the same metaphor here, there are some phases in life that might feel like the initial design. The sketches, the first drafts. Or even, sometimes you might think that is is “the final draft.” But then looking at it again, something just doesn’t feel right. You know it can be tweaked, or that line can be shaped a little bit differently. It’s in these moments of confusion, and only in these moments, where we are able to learn the most about who we are. It’s confusion because just after you think it was finished, you start to see all these ways in which it could be different.

I’ll give you an example. This job search process has been so completely and utterly stressful. I’ve been applying to jobs since January, and was getting absolutely nothing. And at first, I knew I was qualified for jobs, thought of myself as a pretty good candidate. A great candidate, even. I thought I was “the finished product.” But then, I wasn’t hearing back, so I started to get discouraged and was really down on myself about it. I realized I had a lot of things to learn, and was really only able to learn them through this time.

I needed to do some re-branding. I needed to stop searching for myself, and start creating myself. 

For me, I know I needed to focus on my social well-being. That is something that hasn’t always been the best for me. Ideally, yes, I’d love a job right now. But I can’t do much about that. And when I’m down on myself, I tend to retreat into my own space like a hermit crab in it’s shell. I needed to start seeing friends again. And so, I think I’ve done more things in Buffalo this past week than I have in this past year. I’ve also spent more money than I’d like to admit, but a small price to pay for friendship…right?

So my question then, for all of you this week, is how do you want to be re-branded? What parts of your illustration and design are you going over repeatedly with an eraser and a new line? It’s a difficult process, and I don’t think it ever stops. I talk about the “twentysomething” experience, but I think this constant change and growth is all throughout life.

So, why wait? Let’s get started.

 

 

16 Reasons to Celebrate Your Single Self

Being 25, I am now finding more conversations revolving around partners, marriages, and even…KIDS! Just five years ago, if someone were to tell me they’d be having a child, it’d almost be scandalous. Gosh, you’re so young!

But being 25, it’s almost expected. One of my best friends is having a baby this year, and another friend is getting married in a few months…and I am TOTALLY EXCITED for both things.

But then, I’m over here like: Cheers.gif

Maybe it’s just wedding season, or maybe everyone else is just feeling the love bug. But I’m not getting married, and I am definitely not feeling any sort of bug. I don’t mind talking to people about their partners, their weddings, etc…but social media is also plagued. “We’re engaged!” “Wedding photos!” “Look at us smiling together by this lilac bush because we love each other so much!!”

Okay, it’s just a lot.

So, I’m hoping to spread some Single’s Awareness pride on the social medias to counter that, and to make all the other single people out there feel just a tad better.

Sometimes, I wish I had a person to share things with, but most of the time, I’m like, “Eff that!” Too much work. So, here are my top 16 reasons to embrace your single status.

  1. You can literally do whatever you want, whenever you want, and not have to consult anyone about it
    • “Honey, I’m thinking about going to meet Chad for dinner Thursday night…” “Oh no, we promised Jen and Mike we’d meet them for dinner that night, don’t you remember?” Well, damn.
  2. Becoming more self-aware
    • I have learned so much about myself because I’m single and have had the time to discover new things about myself, by myself.
  3. Independence
    • Enough said?
  4. Guilt-free flirting, and…other things
    • Flirting (and other things) can be fun! And there is no better time than right now to explore, experiment, and figure out what you like.
  5. You can eat whatever you want for dinner
    • Pizza every night? Sure.
  6. Having unlimited time to yourself, for yourself
    • I love coming home, not having to say hello to anyone, getting in sweatpants, and doing whatever the eff I want. Without anyone to bother me.
  7. No drama 
    • No partner, no drama.
  8. You don’t have to settle or compromise
    • A common theme: you can do whatever you want to do, without having to consider where your partner’s job takes them next, what movie they want to see, what they want to listen to, etc.
  9. You don’t have to worry about drinking too much when you go out and accidentally making out with a stranger on the dance floor.
    • …or is that just me?
  10. Adding meaning to your life
    • Your conversations gain a certain depth when someone asks you about how you are doing, and you don’t immediately respond by talking about another person.
  11. Casual dating
    • I don’t mind dating – especially if it gets me a free dinner. And, at the end of the day, even if I’m not looking for my life partner, it’s still nice to meet some new people.
  12. No one to impress
    • You don’t (necessarily) have to keep everything primped, trimmed, and primed just for another person.
  13. Travel
    • It’s easier (and so much cheaper) to plan a vacation for one.
  14. Finances
    • I can barely handle my own bank account, let alone all those conversations about joint banking, combining finances…hell no. Plus, you’re not spending money on dates that will never go anywhere.
  15. You get the whole bed to yourself
    • And all the sheets and all the blankets!
  16. Building confidence within yourself 
    • This is like that “teach a man to fish” quote. If you always rely on someone else to compliment you or provide validation, it can easily be broken.  But as a single person, you can learn how to be your own best self, by yourself, which is an invaluable experience.
      You're Awesome.jpg