I recently heard former Facebook employee and entrepreneur Noah Kagan say that when it comes to work, my generation is one of meaning whereas my parents were the generation of sucking it up and doing what had to be done.
That's very much the reality of my life right now, and after experiencing my own quarter-life crisis, I decided to start an online personal development company called I Heart My Life to support women who are craving that meaning and clarity in their own lives as well.
I have big dreams for my company, and one of them is a collaboration with the legendary Oprah Winfrey. I know most people in my industry have a similar dream, but my husband James and I talk about it like it's right around the corner, which somehow makes it feel more like a reality. (For example, I'm already worried about what I'm going to wear when I meet her for the first time, and James prematurely feels a sort of kinship with Stedman Graham and thinks they will smoke cigars together one day.)
In March, when I found out about Oprah's Live the Life You Want Event, I was inspired and desperate to attend but I knew that financially, it wasn't going to happen due to an expensive year ahead.
However, one evening a few weeks later, James called me into the living room with some big news.
"My dad wants to send you to that Oprah event -- you know, the one you mentioned on Facebook the other day? He thinks D.C. would be the best location," he said grinning.
"What? Why would he do that?" was my immediate response. I was dumbfounded and caught off guard.
He reiterated in a slow, drawn-out way playing on my confusion and stupor, "He wants to pay for your flight to get to Washington. He knows it's your dream to see Oprah and thinks it will help your business too."
I was blown away. You see, my father-in-law is the perfect example of someone from the generation of just sucking it up. He didn't grow up with much and although he is incredibly intelligent, he didn't finish his college degree and worked from a very young age. For the 40 years of his employment, he never felt that he was living his "purpose," but he remained a dedicated employee in order to support his family until he retired last year.
Truth be told, he was never into personal development or finding the meaning of life. He didn't think much about life coaching until I started my business, and I'm not sure he even knew about HuffPost until very recently (sorry, Arianna).
But after a few months of staring at me blankly when I spoke about I Heart My Life and my dreams, he began to really get it and see value in my work. At 64-years-old, he became my #1 newsletter reader and even mentioned that if he had had access to a company like mine when he was younger, his life path would have been completely different.
So in September, my father-in-law is making my dream of being in the same room with Oprah come true. But more importantly, he has taught me the power of sharing my purpose with the world. We're all connected, and just like John Lennon said, "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
Last week when I asked him how I could ever repay him (besides the obvious way of course), he merely said, "By succeeding."
I responded with, "That's the easy part. What else?"
Thus, until I can show him great success (and a collaboration with Ms. Winfrey), I thought sharing this act of generosity and expressing my immense gratitude in writing would do.
I also hope that this story acts as a reminder for you to share your dreams with the world. People want to help you succeed and kindness can come from the most unexpected places. No matter what age, everyone wants to feel fulfilled and sometimes true meaning comes from helping others reach their goals.
So here's to my father-in-law, Roger, for becoming a man of meaning and making the first stage of my Oprah dreams come true.
Follow Emily Williams on Twitter: www.twitter.com/iheartmylifenow