If we don’t know by the time we leave high school, most of us expect to find our place in life fairly quickly. Yet, in reality, it is not uncommon for an 50 year old person to realize that they are perfectly suited to some role in life they do not have.
This means someone will have spent their life being a welder, only for them to later realize they’re actually perfectly suited to teach small children. Or they could be a librarian who realizes that what they really like is public speaking. Or they could be a lawyer, and realize they really wanted to be a pilot. They could even be a parent who realizes they’re not a bad parent, they were just never meant to be one.
I see these realizations happen often, and what’s interesting about them is that it’s rare for people to be upset by them. Think about that. Why would someone who had spent their entire adult life in the wrong career, or life, be okay with that? Why would just discovering the mistake make them feel good?
It’s one of those great questions for a meditation. Because there really is only one satisfying explanation: the work or life itself was not as important as the sense that the person ‘fit in’ somewhere, with some group. That we belong. That people would welcome us just for being who we are.
All of this hints at our central problem in life. We just want to fit in. We want to be accepted in that unconditional way the womb accepted us. We all just want that protective, safe feeling when things are tough. And in the case of finding a situation that suited us better than our own, apparently just knowing the womb exists, is often enough.
If you’re older, think about what things attract you now that didn’t when you were young. And if you’re young, ask older people this: if they could live life again, would they pick the same job? Many would, which is great. But a lot will know of something they were better suited for.
This also says nice things about life. Because despite the fact that we can feel that we’ve been on the wrong path, the fact is, our path is our path even when it feels wrong.
If someone’s path led them to a feeling of acceptance, but that feeling was gained only by knowing that they theoretically fit in somewhere else, then that’s a successful life because it feels like one. We can be said to have ‘found ourselves.’ We become more confident that we do belong.
In the end, our life does not need to be remarkable to others, it only needs to be worthwhile to us. So it’s nice knowing that if we can still find grace by walking a path that doesn’t feel like ours. It’s a good indication of how brilliant and wonderful the universe and its workings really are. Enjoy.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.