I was listening to my forever-first-lady Michelle Obama speak on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday recently, and something she said resonated with me. She spoke ever so eloquently about her journey as a “box-checker”. From Princeton, to Harvard Law School, to working at a prestigious law firm in Chicago and finally realizing that she hated being a lawyer. Listening to Michelle Obama gave me permission to come to terms with my reality: I have been checking boxes all my life and none of those boxes were created by me.
My first instinct was to drop everything and go to travel the world or become a starving artist. Mind you, this epiphany happens every two years like clockwork. I am going through the motions of life, doing everything I am “supposed to do”, finding ways to explore my passions outside of work ,but something feels missing and the only logical solution is “I’m going to drop everything and start over!!” Thankfully, this time I was able to slow down and reflect on what I have accomplished so far and how each step in the journey has led me to the next.
So what do we do when we suddenly realize our reality does not match up to our dreams? Where do we go after we have checked all the boxes and still feel unfulfilled?
The first step is to acknowledge that you are exactly where you need to be. We live in a world where everyone around us is screaming “follow your passion!” and “now is your time” and “if you haven’t started a business or published a novel by the age of 22 what are you doing with your life??” But no one is talking about the brewing. It takes time and energy and alot of listening and living life and messing up and starting over to cultivate your craft(s). So shoutout to all of the women building your mental, spiritual, and emotional health and painting pictures when you feel moved and mentoring little girls that remind you of your sister. Our dreams are bigger than ourselves and I have no doubt that this is our time for gathering the tools and lessons we need to achieve them. One of the things I love about Michelle Obama is that she put in the work behind the scenes before she even knew where life would take her. Every single part of her journey(even the parts she did not enjoy) prepared her to be the most impactful First Lady in the history of the United States.
So next time you are feeling frustrated about where you are in your life. Remember your journey of becoming is not a race. Remember to be patient between the anointing and the crowning.
Remember to choose internal joy over external validation, and finally, ask yourself:
What does success look like for me?
When have I felt most proud of my work? Why?
How will I know when I am successful?