What Is Your Unchanging Constant?
Emily McCaul | Friday, March 23, 2018
I learned this week that I haven’t figured out life yet. Outrageous, I know. Growing up, the sweet people in my life attempted to lay out a formulaic path for me, show me the “right” things to do with my time, and point me to the great opportunities that lie within my reach—and still, at 21 years old, I make mistakes, I learn hard lessons, and I just haven’t figured out life yet.
In the past I’ve both seen and (embarrassingly) believed the notion that life exists so I can collect opportunities for myself—a bit narcissistic, right? Kind of embarrassing? But think about it—is the thought really that outrageous? Let’s take a look at the tag lines from some of the most successful and influential companies advertised in the media today:
Burger King; “Have It Your Way.”
L’Oreal; “Because You’re Worth It.”
Verizon; “Better Matters.”
McDonald’s; “I’m Lovin’ It.”
Covergirl; “I Am What I Make Up.”
It can be embarrassing to admit to ourselves that the messages projected from these companies hold more influence over our thoughts (and hearts) than we’d like to admit—though until we address the problem, no solution can be invited in.
Using myself as an example, I never wanted to admit that I felt the pressure to “succeed” (however I chose to define that word in my present season) immediately after graduating college with a(n): impressive job, engagement ring, new hometown, leadership positions, sense of style, etc. etc. etc. The sad truth of that season was that I felt a lot of pressure (from myself) to have it all together, or more eloquently put, “to have life figured out.”
Of course I never wanted to admit those things to myself (or God forbid others) in outright terms, but now, face-to-face with the fears of adulting and responsible decision-making, I’ve felt the thin concept shatter beneath the weight of my unmet expectations with haste.
Though it wasn’t until I talked about those things aloud or identified those areas of my life as places I wanted (and needed) to grow, that I took step towards changing that self-focused mindset. Before I was willing to talk about it, no soil was plowed, no water was brought before the dry flowers, and no light was shone on the lies that laid in the darkness of my subconscious.
In the past (and to many whom I assume can relate), I’d viewed life as an opportunity to collect opportunities for myself—because, let’s be real, at times it does seem necessary to surmount the opportunities in front of us in order to thrive (again, this is another word like “success” that I tend to self-define differently season-to-season, which makes it a faulty measuring stick for growth).
It’s a fully logical and safe concept to derive our decision-making and sense of self from—I’m valuable, because I achieved: x, y and z, AND I did it before a, b and c.
Though the problem with that reasoning is, that when we flip it on ourselves, it becomes self-shattering—I no longer feel valuable, because I’ve yet to achieve: x, y and z, AND my friends a, b and c have already achieved it before me.
I would like to offer some food for thought—contrary to what I once believed, and what many companies and organizations portray as a necessity in America—I’ve been chewing on the idea that perhaps life is an opportunity to find what matters most, not for ourselves, but to ourselves and for the wellbeing of others.
If (and when) you identify what matters most to you, and you are able to identify that it is an unchanging constant—no matter how the present or future may entice you with opportunities for success—I offer the idea that this unchanging constant may just possess the power to alter your entire life: How you make decisions, your frequency and intensity of thought, your intentionality with others, your awareness of self … the list goes on, because again, I’ve yet to figure out the formula for life.
However, in essence, I believe that identifying the thing (singular) that matters most to you in this life—unchanging from the influences of opportunity, excitement, media, success, glamour, pain, heartbreak—will drastically affect who you are at your innermost core.
So, what is the point of all this processing? The point is:
There is power in identifying your unchanging constant. What in your life will matter to you today, tomorrow, 20 lb’s from now, 20 years from now, with or without a job, on your death bed—what is your reason for being? What is your unchanging constant?
Once you identify what or who it is—I think you may just start to live life differently—and for the better of others, rather than yourself. I’ve been learning that life is not (always) a matter of opportunity, but rather, an opportunity to identify what really matters. Super cliché, I know—but perhaps it’s a thought worth chewing on while we’re all just trying to “figure out life.”
What are your thoughts on the conversation? I’d love to hear from you all!