One of my clients recently said something that left me in a silent awe. “…for almost forty years, I’ve been searching, seeking, trying to find my passion. All along, it was right there. Antonia, at fifty-four years old, I finally feel like I’m alive.”
Have you ever been in this position? Searching for a passion to make you feel alive. Maybe you’re in it right now. How long has your search been and how far have you gone?
If Maegan’s words have left you in a silent awe too, I asked her permission to share her experience with you.
We met a few months ago in a small, cozy cafe while I was visiting Montreal.
Maegan on our first session:
In the last two years, since I lost my job, I’ve been in extreme anguish. It’s like, when I lost my job, I also lost myself. I’m not passionate about anything.
Now, it has gotten worse. Two months ago, Steven (her husband) and I were invited to a big party. Two weeks before the party, I was filled with anxiety; terrified that the dress I had bought wasn’t classy enough for event and petrified that it might rain and my hair would get all frizzy. I was horrified that I would be questioned about whether or not I was working again. I was a total mess.
We’ve been going to these types of parties for years. They are a big deal for Steven and his fashion business and he is adamant that we make a good impression. So, I couldn’t talk to him about my anxiety.
Now, there’s another big party coming up. Again, I’m beginning to feel like a total mess.
I asked her, “Maegan, if I was the one expressing all these concerns to you over a big party coming up, what would you say to me?”
She gave me a long stare. Then, she gently flicked my forehead and said, “I’d tell you to stop fussing over a party. You’re beautiful, regardless of what others think. Just go and have fun.”
Then I asked, “So, why can’t you give this same kindness to yourself?”
At first she froze, then broke out in laughter. Before she could answer, two women seated behind our booth, walked up to us and said, “We thought we recognized your laugh. Maegan, it’s wonderful to see you.” They engaged in friendly conversation.
In our following sessions, Maegan kept saying, “If only I was doing something meaningful, I wouldn’t feel so out of place. That’s the real problem. I hated my last job but, at least it didn’t make me feel like a complete loser around people. I have to go to this party and make a good impression for Steven; with what?”
Something extraordinary kept happening every time we met at that cafe. Maegan always ended up striking up a conversation with people. Some she knew, but some, she met for the first time.
Her shiny eyes and dazzling smile made people let down their guards and engage in a conversation with her. One time, she had the entire cafe (about ten tables) talking and laughing together.
Another time, a couple of women asked Maegan for her help with redecorating their home. Maegan nearly popped up in her seat and agreed to help them.
Something just didn’t add up. This woman was “a total mess” as she put it, because she had nothing she was passionate about. Yet, her eyes lit up and she practically jumped over the table when people asked for her help with redecorating their home.
One day I asked her, “This lost passion of yours, where have you been looking?”
“I’ve done it all, Antonia,” she said. “I’ve read all kinds of self-help books, tried all kinds of different types of meditation and yoga. I tried different hobbies. I’ve even spoken to a few specialists. They have all gotten me nowhere.”
I told her,
“It’s time to buy your return ticket back home to Maegan.
Start with the advice you would have given to me. Listen to that same kindness while getting ready for your next party. There’s a voice from deep within you that wants to be heard. I’ve seen that voice shine through your eyes every time you’ve interacted with people in this cafe.”
Here’s what Maegan had to say after the party.
“It was amazing! I took my own advice and it worked. I didn’t understand what you meant by paying attention to my own voice. It was the voice in my head that brought me in a state of a total mess; I didn’t want to listen to it.
But, then I tuned into my inner silent voice of kindness and bam! I felt it.
In all the years Steven and I have attended these parties, my job title made me feel I had a solid foundation to be myself with this caliber of people. Steven would very often take me aside and tell me, “Tune it down. That’s way too much, Meagan.” At the time, although it hurt, I still had my job that gave me a purpose.
After I lost my job, being told, “That’s way too much, Meagan,” shook my foundation to the ground. I no longer felt I fit in this crowd. That meant my appearance was the only thing I had to impress them for Steven.
Meeting with you at this cafe and interacting with people, there were no Gucci’s and Pucci’s. I was able to be myself and it was just fun.
I went to the party dressed to kill. Not with the dress I wore or how my hair was styled, but with being “too much Maegan” without a status to lean on. I told Steven about being a total mess and explained that if he wanted me to go to this party; he had to be willing to go with “too much Maegan.” He smiled and said, “I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. I want all of Maegan with me at the party.”
I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun! People commented on being happy to see the old Maegan back. They weren’t seeing the old Maegan back; they were meeting the real Maegan.
At some point, Steven took me aside and said, “You look radiant tonight and you’re dazzling everyone with being ‘too much Maegan.’”
Three months later, here’s what Meagan had to say.
I helped those women with redecorating their homes. Again, I listened to the same kindness I would have given to another. I heard it loud and clear; telling me, “This is your passion.” Antonia, I’ve always loved interior design. I got an engineering degree to please my parents, especially my mom. I had a status and making the big bucks but, I hated it!
My lost passion kept trying to creep up every time I helped friends redecorate their homes. I ignored it. I thought I had to go out and work at finding a high-class passion. I searched long and hard. My search blinded me. I never found it because it was right there with me.
So, I’m happy to announce that I’ve rekindled my passion as an interior designer. All my friends said, “Well, it’s about time! This, is so YOU!” I told them, “A little heads-up would have been nice.”
We laughed and they started spreading the word. I already have a few clients lined up. I am not making nearly the same salary as my last job. But, now it’s not a job that I have. It’s something that is ME and that no one can take away. That’s priceless!
I’m still doing yoga and meditating. I love to swim, cook and travel. Before, when I was depending on those things to find an answer, I didn’t enjoy them. Having let go of that expectation, it’s like I discovered new interests I enjoy doing.
For the first time in a very long time, I’m interested in things, in people, in places, in LIFE. I am feeling ALIVE in being too much Meagan!
Meagan’s last words to YOU!
I had distanced myself from home (ME) and took a long voyage in search of a passion that would bring me happiness. I kept busy with all kinds of things to be useful. At fifty-four years old, I had to come back home (ME) to discover it was always there within me. The voyage was needed for me to lose myself and become a total mess in order to recognize it. But, I did discover new interests along the way.
If you are on this voyage, it’s okay. Sometimes we need to go out and look far away and get lost along the way to finally see that our passion was always right there within our reach.
You can buy your return ticket back home, by first giving yourself the kindness you would show another and give yourself permission to be “TOO MUCH (your name)”.
What kind words of advice would you give someone who’s living your situation?