By: Emily Algar, Guest Blogger
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been trying to push ahead and forge my own path, to find out what I want to do and who I want to be. Sadly, I have had no great epiphanies that have hit me in the middle of night. Yet.
I have done research like any good student would; from writing endless and numerous pros and cons lists; to taking time out to just be still; from asking mentors and people I admire how they found IT and how they knew what IT was; to trying out various different jobs. Though each was useful in helping me know what I don’t want to do and each experience has given me skills that will no doubt be useful on my journey, none have made me say “This! This is what I should be doing!” I’ve tried stepping outside my comfort zone; I have read numerous blogs online trying to find clues that will help in unlocking my inner fire but as of today I am still no closer to finding answers to my questions.
What am I doing wrong? Has my lighting bolt gone astray on the way down? Or maybe I was looking in the wrong direction when it finally came to rest, and now as the months have gone by, and summer has turned to winter the glow has gone out and all hope of finding my lighting bolt has been snuffed out. And here I am still looking up.
This predicament that I find myself in reminds me of the film Dumbo where Mrs Jumbo is looking up watching as all the other storks deliver all the other babies to all the other animals. And there she sits, watching, hoping that the next one will be for her until finally, as she’s nearly given up, a stork arrives with her little bundle of love. This is exactly how I feel. Looking up, watching everyone else’s lightning bolt hit the ground in front of them, and desperately hoping that mine will be next.
In my search for answers, I came across an article written by the author Elizabeth Gilbert, where she talks about creating your own journey of self-transformation. Gilbert says that though travelling across continents and eating as much pizza as possible worked for her, that doesn’t mean the same exact journey will work for everyone. She begins by saying, “For a journey of self-discovery to work, your path must be your own.” She continues: “don’t do what I did. Ask what I asked – who am I? Who is God? What have I come here to do? What brings ME life?” In the same article, she quotes David Whyte’s poem START CLOSE in which he tells us,
Start close in
Don’t take the second step
Or the third,
Start with the first
You don’t want to take.
The poem ends with,
For your own.
In other words, don’t follow along a well-walked path to find your answers. Even if that path has been walked by the person you admire the most. That path is theirs, not yours. It will not lead you to your answers nor will it give you clues as to how you find your own path. You need to make your own way even if that means walking a path that doesn’t yet exist.
So maybe my lightning bolt hasn’t been snuffed out; maybe it’s still glowing under all the leaves that have fallen and all the rain that should have washed it away. Maybe it’s still there, just waiting for me to stop looking outward and upward, and for me to start close in, not with the second step or third but with the first thing. The step I don’t want to take.
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Emily Algar is an International Relations graduate who has just completed her Masters in International Security. She lives in a small town in Oxfordshire, UK where she writes, listens to music and walks her dogs. Since completing her studies, Emily is trying to figure out where she fits in the world and until she does, she is enjoying the ride.