Over the years I had experienced flow in a few places, but in art class I had learned to slip in to that state within minutes.
There is another story I can tell you. In this story I am also present in the moment, laying on my bed staring up at the ceiling. I’m not happy here but I don’t know what else to do. I feel tired from the week but my mind is restless. I don’t want anything in particular other than this feeling to stop. I think of a few different things I could do but there seems no good reason to do any of them. Against my better judgement, I get up, wander around and try to do something that resembles productivity but nothing is matching up. Everything is taking three times as long. I am indecisive and distracted. I conclude that life is meaningless and decide to go back to bed until there is something that I have to do.
No, I’m not depressed. This state of mind is known as existential crisis. Researchers say it’s experienced by people who do what they are told to do rather than what they want to do. And in modern society, we are told what to do until we adopt that way of thinking for ourselves. For example, I’m not sure any of us where born with the desire to work from nine to five but the majority of us do it for a majority of our lives. We become at risk of being so busy doing what we are told to do that we forget what we would do if we had a choice. When I was unemployed for a year this is the question I was forced to face. For such a long time, my life was consumed with what I had to do. But, what did I want to do?
In middle school, when I got a part time job and the academic workload picked up, I started to feel like I didn’t run the show anymore. The repression of myself was painful at first but over time I got good at distracting myself, staying busy and accepting this new reality. That’s not to say that it was all bad, but pushing through far outweighed any other mode of existence. So, when I was occupation-less for one year, there was nowhere else to run. And in that year, that’s when societal expectations and what I wanted had their final showdown.
I took back the director’s role in my life once more. I discovered that I needed time to create. Creating is my release. Creating is my reason for being but it was also important to me that I was creating for a purpose. Any mode of living where I found myself too busy to do so, felt ill-fitting and soul-suffocating to me. Upon this discovery, existential crisis walked out the door and hasn’t been seen since.
What is concerning is how long we can ‘live’ without being the director of our own lives. Which is why it fills me with both happiness and sadness when I hear these words from our clients:
“I learned how to dream again, something that I thought I had lost.”
I feel for them because I have been there. Let’s be clear; it’s not our fault that we lost touch with our dreams to begin with. It’s as though we learn to distrust ourselves as we grow up. Children are rewarded for good behaviour and punished for bad behaviour when in fact there are no bad children; just children with different needs, gifts and truths. These identities formed in childhood, that are reinforced externally by others, go on to inform the stories we tell ourselves in adulthood. When we are young and stand out from the herd, we risk ridicule, bullying, excessive discipline and blame. I, like many others, learned to equate my level of conformity with my level of worthiness. I, like many others, learned to derive my status, and supported my ego with productivity, good grades and being a good girl.
But the truth is, we don’t need to turn our backs on some part of ourselves to maintain our worth. We don’t need to continually say “yes” when we feel like it’s a “no”. We were all born with an innate sense of our own truth. You can trust your inner yes’s and no’s to lead you to your passions that really are the expression of your ultimate purpose. You can rid your life of existential crisis and increase living from your flow state.
Start to listen to your internal guidance system. And start to watch out for the word “should” in your internal dialogue. It’s the first indication that you might be living out someone else’s agenda for your life. Once you have a good sense of direction, and have found your existential fuel, the rest is so much clearer.
So, when was the last time you experienced flow?
What gives you so much joy, that you will do it just for the sake of doing it?
Your desires are the seed of all your achievements. They are there to remind you what you are capable of.
To say Georgie is ‘an old soul’, only just begins to capture the depth and awareness of this strong, focused woman. Having studied psychology, Georgie went on to become an AASW registered Social Worker as her heart for people grew. Far more than just the marketing and media arm of Di Live, Georgie brings a palpable desire for people to live authentically and unveil their best selves. If you would like to see other blogs that she has written please go to: https://www.dilive.com.au/