Existential Psychology

Do What You Were Meant To Do

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“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”
– Abraham Maslow

If you hate your job or your life it’s probably not not that either of them are too hard, but that your difficulties don’t contribute to your self-actualization. The gnawing feeling you have at the edge of conscious awareness that you are living a life foreign to who you really are is what makes any activity really painful, not the mental, emotional, or physical strain attached to it.

People are willing to accept all manner of hardship when they feel that their trials and tribulations are meaningful, and personal meaning is derived through living a life that aligns with who and what you believe you are. A biblical example of this idea is when Jesus says “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” How could someone carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, someone who knows he will face torture and death, say that his job is easy? It’s because he deeply believes this is the only path he can take to become who he truly is, and in this sense any other path would be a heavier burden because he would never be at peace with himself.

It’s a good reminder that however hard the road in front of you may seem, taking the easy way out and doing something ostensibly less taxing with your life will end up being much harder on your psyche because you’ll always know in the back of your mind that you betrayed the person you were supposed to become.

Luckily in today’s world there are almost limitless routes to self-actualization outside of work so that if at the moment you feel trapped for financial reasons and can’t fathom leaving your current job it doesn’t mean you can’t still actively pursue an interest that will make you feel whole. You just have to have the courage to go for it without any outside help or encouragement, realizing that you can learn just as much on your own as you could learn through a formal program. Actually if you talk to accomplished professionals in any discipline they will tell you the balance of what they know they learned on their own through constant study and practice after acquiring their degrees. Graduating from a program is a starting point, not an ending point, and masters get to where they are by considering themselves lifelong students.

It’s the first step that’s the hardest, and once you take it the next step will become apparent to you. If you spend your life waiting for the right time to do what will make you become who you are that right time will never come. You’ll always have a plausible excuse for holding off. Life is short and the right time to start is now.