Since Instagram took over our lives, everyone is constantly putting up pictures of inspiring quotes and pictures that mean something to them; every part of their lives become a piece of art to share with the world. Our lives revolve around looking at each other's inspiration as well as information that is important enough to make it on to the many online feeds that take over our lives. We don't realize how all of these images, articles, information affect us on a day to day basis. We look to each other for answers, for guidance, for support. We share our favorite song lyrics, YouTube videos, and 140 characters about what we find most important and we feed off of each other's minifeeds. Essentially, this minifeed can at times be feeding anxiety, frustration, or whatever other emotion is most prevalent that day and we are spoon-feeding off of each other letting each other's emotions fill us up.
This can be dangerous because at the end of the day, we are so full with other's information we sometimes don't have room to be hungry for what we actually want for ourselves. The past few months have been a time for me to really reflect on how I spend my time. This is coming from a person who refused to take the subway because I didn't have phone reception, but who now meditates twice a day and leaves an event an hour earlier so she can go home and read. These few minutes/hours to myself have been transformative. As a full-time connector, this is not easy. It has taken effort and more energy to make time for myself, which has allowed me to introspectively analyze: What is my purpose? What drives me? I noticed when I put my BlackBerry down, turned my computer off -- and my iPad, and my laptop and my iPhone and my (you get it...) -- I am no longer reacting to the rest of the world's information, but am able to create my own information that is important to me.
This is an empowering and enlightening feeling and it really started to make me think about the importance of purpose. This somewhat goes back to the question I always ask -- "What did you want to be when you were 8 years old?" -- but is a deeper version, as I do not think purpose necessarily has to do with your job, or your relationship or your hobbies. It is deeper than that. Everyone has a reason for being on this planet, everyone has specific talents (which might even be hidden under the surface and not self-recognized) and everyone has something to offer to the world. The only way to really understand your purpose is to reflect. Sometimes in order to find your purpose, you have to separate yourself from those people and things that are distractions, believing that even if you love them, the right ones will still be there if you continue to go after what you believe in.
This was further reconfirmed when I went to the Claudia Chan SHE Summit event this week and Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership (Hilary Clinton's organization to enhance women's leadership around the world), said every woman has a saying that defines them. My best friend Kassidy Brown held a women's empowerment dinner that reiterated this, and when it came to my turn to confess the one line that I felt defined me, I said, "I believe at the end of the day that all people are inherently good and I will do everything in my power to help people become their best even when they don't see their own potential." Perhaps this comes from the teacher in me, or perhaps this is the Aquarius/humanitarian in me, but I know that at the end of the day my actions, opinions and views on the world come back to this statement. While being a strength, this is also probably my biggest weakness; it makes it very difficult to let people learn on their own, walk away from situations that I have no control over, and know that sometimes when you love someone, letting them learn themselves is the best way to show them their own potential.
That is the thing about purpose. It isn't always easy; sometimes it is the difficult decisions that have to be made in order for you to really understand what your purpose is. Anything worth fighting for isn't supposed to be easy, but at the end of the day, purpose is your guiding force that defines you at your core, it is what makes you, you. And how can you ever have room to consider this when you are spending most of your time reading about others? Never making the time to think about yourself?
The only way you can really understand your own purpose is if you cut out some of the fat that are you consuming on a day to day basis. If all you are eating is everyone's desires, inspiration, frustration and anxiety, how can you figure out what makes you hungry? If I've learned anything in the past few months, I have learned that sometimes it is crucial that you replace a few hours a day where you would be (mini)feeding yourself with everyone else's junk and sit with that hunger inside you. Sometimes it is better to be hungry for something real, something genuine than to fill yourself with so much junk food that you end up feeling awful and with a stomach/heartache. Take some time to focus all of that energy and effort you have put into consuming everyone' else's day and look into yourself. I promise you will learn more than any Instagram photo could teach you.