(I’m writing this on vacation.  The last couple days my father-in-law and I have had some really good conversations, by the ocean and poolside, that got me thinking about how my life has changed in the last 10 years or so.  This is, in a way, a reflection looking back at a part of the old me.)

What do I want to do when I grow up?  What are my life goals?  What do I “want”?  I used to think about this quite a bit when I was exiting college and entering into my mid twenties.  I was entering the “real world”, or so I thought.  This real world would provide me with enough road maps to figure it all out.  I figured that “finding myself” would happen along the way.  This would automatically lead to a new adult perspective and personality.   I’d fall right in with the rest of the normal people.  Nothing like that actually happened.

Expectations on how life should and shouldn’t play out will get us every time.  We can end up spending a lot of time trying to fight the life that we’re in because it may not be what we envisioned.  Instead of living the life that we have, we focus all of our energy on changing it.  There might be a need to search for something that can “complete us”, such as falling in love.  The problem will always be that the same relationships that complete us can be over as soon as it started.  Then what?  If that partner doesn’t meet up to our expectations of them, or the relationship, it’s usually over.  Betting everything on someone else to provide happiness and/or direction is a huge risk that can feel emotionally devastating.

Being a counselor is a very interesting and gratifying job.  There is this beneficial, unintentional side effect in which I get to learn a lot about myself as I work with others.  I’ve been able to realize that looking back those 10 plus years I never really had to go anywhere or do anything to find my inner self and purpose.  I wasn’t going to find some kind of guiding force on a long road trip, at the end of a college career receiving a diploma, or at the bottom of a beer bottle at 3 am.  Just like me, the clients I work with can many times come to a realization that everything they need is already within.  There isn’t anything that I am going to give them that they don’t already possess.

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Just as happiness and contentment are all found within, so is the ability to discover self.  I can confidently say that is a fact.  A relationship or a marriage can enhance your life, having children can bring you joy, a new job can help you find stability, or a vacation can allow you to focus or refocus. However, none of these things will ever bring happiness or allow self discovery.  All of this happens when we decide it will take place.  This realization in itself might be the greatest self discovery.

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